Anatomy of a Work-Out: Advanced Edition

Have you ever read over a work-out plan and felt like you were reading a foreign language? How about walked through the gym and overheard conversations in which you had no clue what they were talking about? Well, this article is for you, so keep on reading!

“Fitness” can sometimes feel like a whole other language!

A while back (and I mean, a WHILE), I wrote a post about fitness terms for beginners. Today, let’s look at some of the more advanced work-out terms and lingo:


Alright, one of the beginner terms I talked about last time was the word “set.”  A super-set is definitely a little more intense.  In order to complete a super-set, you need to have two exercises.  A super-set requires you to complete one set of an exercise and then immediately complete one set of a different exercise.  That means no rest until after BOTH exercises are completed!

For example, you might super-set opposing muscle groups, such as biceps and triceps.  So, a super-set would look something like this: 10 bicep curls immediately followed by 10 tricep dips, then 30 seconds of rest.  It requires your muscles to work just a little harder before allowing them to rest.  Definitely a way to keep your work-out challenging!


Drop-sets require you to have varying weights, ready to go!

Yup, another type of set.  To be honest, this is the one that I have always found the most confusing!  A drop-set requires you to complete a set and then immediately drop the weight and perform more reps.  Typically, you continue doing this until you reach failure, which brings us to…


This word is thrown around a lot in the fitness industry, but it has a few meanings.  The one you are probably thinking of is a lot of people believing they are a “failure” because they haven’t lost weight, gained muscle, {insert fitness goal here}.

But, in the advanced fitness world, “failure” relates to your muscles.  When your muscles have reached failure, it means that they cannot perform another rep or that they are “maxed out.”  Some exercises (especially drop sets) will want you to perform a movement until that particular muscle reaches failure.  Be careful with these movements, because although they can be wonderful, they can also lead to greater injury.


H.I.I.T stands for “High Intensity Interval Training.”  Essentially, the thought behind H.I.I.T is to give maximum effort for a short period of time followed by a slightly longer recovery time.  For instance, sprinting for 30 seconds, followed by walking for 60 seconds and repeating until the designated time is up.

It is believed that H.I.I.T burns more calories, since it keeps your heart rate at an increased level throughout the entirety of your workout.  Again, this is something to ease into but a great strategy for cardio health!


This one is actually exactly as it sounds…you take a small rest.  This is done after an exercise or a super-set and is usually about anywhere from 30 seconds to a minute and a half, but could be longer on the type of exercise you are completing.

Active Rest:

Active rest sounds like a huge oxymoron–because it is.  But, all that active rest means is that instead of resting after a set or instead of having a rest day, you complete an activity that increases your heart rate.  For example, you might complete a set, and then do 30 seconds of jump-rope before completing your next exercise or set.  Your “rest period” was used to burn more calories.

I personally love active rest when I am trying to sneak in some extra cardio and calorie burn.  I would suggest starting at 30 seconds or so, and working your way up to more time.


Ahh, the joys of being a beginner and people asking if you need a spot…and having no idea what they are talking about.

Basically, a “spot” is help or someone who will make sure that the weights don’t crush you.  Common exercises where a spotter is recommended are squats, chest press, and basically anything where weights are overhead.


Macros sounds like something super fancy, but all it really means is the basic makeup of foods: carbohydrates, fats, and proteins.  This is the true “science” behind any sort of diet, whether you are trying to gain or lose weight.  I have an entire post devoted to macros right here.

Hopefully now you can be a little more comfortable in the gym with knowing some fitness jargon.  If you discover any other words that you don’t know the meaning, please drop them in the comments, so I can be sure to address them in the future!

Happy lifting!

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