Bringing Some Clarity to Fitness Terminology

If you find yourself confused with fitness lingo, here is a short glossary of some common terms.

Aerobic exercise – is that which demands a continuous amount of oxygen to the muscle, often called “cardio.”

Anaerobic exercise – is that which does not require oxygen to complete the task, usually strength training.

Terms that relate to body composition

Body Fat Percentage – the relative proportion of fat to lean tissue in the body. Healthy averages vary from 14 percent to 18 percent for men and 20 percent to 25 percent for women.

BMI – or Body Mass Index – a simpler and more general guideline for defining healthy weight that divides weight by (height2).

Terms That Relate to Cardiorespiratory Fitness

Oxygen Uptake (VO2 ) – is the amount of oxygen being consumed by the muscles of the body.

Maximal Oxygen Uptake (V• O2Max ) – is the greatest amount of oxygen that can be used by the body at the cellular level. People do not train at their V • O2Max.

Resting Heart Rate (RHR) – the times per minute that your heart beats while at rest. Best to take this after you’ve been sitting quietly for a few minutes — without caffeine!

Maximal Heart Rate or (HR Max) – is an estimation obtained by subtracting one’s age from the number 220. It is most often used to calculate Target Heart Rate (THR).

Heart Rate Reserve (HRR) – is the difference between the resting heart rate (RHR) and the maximal heart rate (HR Max). Also used for calculating the Target Heart Rate.

Target Heart Rate (THR) – or training heart rate – used to gauge the intensity of aerobic training.

EPOC or Excess Post-Exercise Oxygen Demand – refers to the body’s continued demand for oxygen after the exercise session is through. The heart is pumping at an elevated rate and you continue to breath strenuously, with both heart rate and breathing gradually decreasing toward baseline.

Terms That Are Related to Strength Training

Types of Muscle Action:

Isometric contraction – force against resistance while no movement takes place (holding a plank).

Isotonic contraction – force against resistance with movement (a biceps curl).

Eccentric– a specific form of isotonic – muscle working against gravity.

Concentric – a form of isotonic in which the muscle activity, such as performing a biceps curl.

Types of Muscle Reactions:

Hypertrophy – refers to the increase in size of muscle cells – building larger muscles.

Atrophy – decrease in muscle size, usually with inactivity.

DOMS stands for Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness – (also called exercise induced muscle damage) this is the soreness and discomfort that occurs 12 to 48 hours after exercise. A little is part of the growth process as muscles tear, repair, and rebuild, while too much is not considered beneficial.

Lactic Acid – a byproduct of intense anaerobic training. Can be related to immediate muscle fatigue.

Terms That Relate to Metabolism

Metabolism – the sum of all physical and chemical processes in the body. There is a constant process of creating and using energy even while the body is at rest.

Resting Metabolic Rate (RMR) or Basal Metabolic Rate (BMR) – is the least amount of energy required to perform essential body functions while at rest.

MET – is a metabolic equivalency based on the resting metabolic rate (RMR) and used to qualify the intensity of an activity. For example, an activity that uses 6 times the energy required to sit still would be labelled 6 METs.

EMR or Exercise Metabolic Rate – How many METs in an activity.

Training Types

Circuit Training – exercising through a series of stations with minimal rest in order to keep the heart rate elevated.

Cross Training – participation in more than one type of training that provides a variety in intensity and type.

Interval Training – alternated short segments of high and low intensity aerobic exercise.

Plyometrics –the explosive moves that call on maximal force in the shortest amount of time. Box jumps are an example.

Written by Sue Brown

This information is designed as an educational aid for the public. It offers current information and opinions related to health & fitness. It is not intended as a statement of the standard of care. It does not explain all of the proper treatments or methods of care. It is not a substitute for the advice of a physician. Read our disclaimer.

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