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Gym Slang Newbie to Professional: The List

8 min read |

If you’re new to the gym, you might feel like you’re in a foreign country where everyone speaks a different language. As with anything new you want to do, new terms come with the territory. Don’t worry, we’ve got you covered! Here’s a list of the most common gym slang terms that you’ll hear at the gym, explained in plain English.

The top 50 Gym slang terms list:

The ultimate gym slang list
The ultimate gym slang list
  1. Newbie
    A newbie is someone who is new to the gym and is unfamiliar with the equipment and routines. But don’t worry, everyone starts as a newbie at some point.
  2. PB
    PB stands for personal best, which means the highest weight or most reps you’ve ever done for a particular exercise.
  3. Warm Up
    A warm-up is a lighter exercise that you do before starting your workout to prepare your muscles for heavier lifting.
  4. Reps
    Reps are short for repetitions, which refer to the number of times you perform an exercise within a set.
  5. Sets
    A set is a group of repetitions. For example, if you do 3 sets of 10 reps for squats, that means you do 10 squats, rest, and repeat that cycle 3 times.
  6. Rest
    Rest is the period of time you take in between sets to recover before the next set.
  7. Max
    Max refers to the maximum amount of weight that you can lift for at least one repetition of a specific exercise.
  8. Burning
    Burning or “Burn” describes the feeling of metabolic waste accumulation in muscles, resulting in fatigue. This process, known as acidosis, occurs when there are elevated levels of lactic acid and hydrogen ions in the blood as a result of moderate to high-intensity exercise.
  9. HIIT
    HIIT stands for high-intensity interval training, which is a type of workout that alternates between short, intense bursts of exercise and recovery periods.
  10. LISS
    LISS is the opposite of HIIT, and stands for Low-intensity steady-state, such as brisk walking, light jogging, easy cycling, or hiking 
  11. Cardio
    Cardio refers to exercises that increase your heart rate and promote cardiovascular health, such as running, biking, or swimming.
  12. Core training
    Core training has become a popular fitness term, but the definition has been misconstrued. The core refers to the muscles in the mid-section of the body that attach to the spine, rib cage, or pelvis, influencing movement around the body’s center of gravity. Rather than focusing on the elusive six-pack, it is more effective to think of the body’s core as the center of gravity.
  13. Metabolic conditioning
    is similar to HIIT and refers to high-intensity exercise resulting in breathlessness or muscle soreness. However, metabolism is how the body produces energy for muscular contraction, meaning any exercise requiring a muscle contraction is a form of metabolic conditioning. Therefore, it is more appropriate to describe the level of effort required to perform the planned activity as low-intensity, moderate-intensity, high-intensity, or maximal intensity.
  14. Mind-body
    Mind-body is a term commonly used to describe exercises like yoga or Pilates, traditionally performed with bodyweight and requiring concentration to execute challenging movement sequences. However, any purposeful movement, even a bicep curl or downward facing dog, requires cognitive focus and could technically be classified as mind-body.
  15. Machines
    Machines are gym equipment designed to work your muscles by guiding you through a controlled exercise.
  16. Barbell
    A barbell is a long steel bar with plates stacked on both ends that’s used in a variety of workouts.
  17. Dumbbell
    A dumbbell is a small, hand-size bar with weights on both ends that you’ll usually find stacked on shelves in weights ranging from 5-100 lbs.
  18. EZ Bar
    An EZ bar is a short barbell with two humps in it that provide a more comfortable grip.
  19. Free Weights
    Free weights refer to lifting equipment not attached to a machine. Hence, the weights are “free,” such as dumbbells, barbells, and plates.
  20. Bench
    The bench is frequently used as a verb referring to “bench press.”
  21. Plates
    Plates are the round weights you place on the end of bars. Common plates you’ll see are 2.5, 5, 10, 25, 35, and 45 lbs.
  22. Plyometrics
    Plyometrics is jump training or explosive movements like medicine ball throws that generate high forces on tissues. It was created by Soviet sport scientists as “shock training.” To achieve maximum force output, it’s recommended to perform only a few repetitions at a time. Doing more than five or six rapid movements in a row can increase the risk of injury.
  23. Calisthenics
    Calisthenics is a form of bodybuilding that uses bodyweight exercises like pull-ups, crunches, air squats, pushups, dips, etc., instead of traditional weights.
  24. Tabata
    Tabata is a high-intensity interval training protocol consisting of 20-second work intervals followed by 10-second rest intervals for eight cycles, totaling four minutes. It was developed by Dr. Izumi Tabata and his colleagues, who discovered that short intervals of extremely high-intensity exercise, at 170% of aerobic capacity on cycle ergometers, were effective in boosting aerobic capacity.
  25. Incline
    Incline refers to any workout you do in which the bench or equipment is placed in a manner where your upper body is in an inclined position.
  26. Decline
    Decline refers to any workout you do in which the bench or equipment is placed in a manner where your upper body is in a declined position.
  27. Plank
    A plank is a core strengthening exercise that involves holding a position similar to a push-up, but with your forearms on the ground.
  28. Clamps
    Clamps are the annoying little circles you snap, shove, or twist onto the end of barbells to prevent plates from sliding off.
  29. Cables
    Cables are a pulley system attached to various machines and workout systems that you attach whatever bar, rope, handle, etc. you want to the cable, set the weight you desire and use the resistance for strength training.
  30. Pump
    Pump is the warm, fuzzy feeling you get when your muscles contract full and tight after exerting a lot of strength. It’s a result of increased blood flow in your muscles.
  31. Super Sets
    Super sets are when you do 2 or more exercises without rest periods in between them. For example, doing a bench press set followed immediately by a dumbbell curl set.
  32. Form
    Form refers to the act of performing an exercise in the appropriate way. It’s important to maintain proper form to avoid injury and get the most out of your workout.
  33. Spot
    A spot is when someone goes and aids someone in their workout. They usually stand behind the lifter and closely watch to ensure they complete the set. Proper gym etiquette requires you to spot those who ask for it.
  34. Gains
    Gains can refer to an increase in muscle size or just being able to lift more weight. It’s the result of hard work and dedication.
  35. Cutting
    Cutting refers to reducing calories to lose body fat for bodybuilders.
  36. Bulking
    Bulking is the opposite of cutting, where bodybuilders increase their calorie intake to help maximize muscle growth.
  37. Negatives
    Negatives are a variation to specific exercises where you lift with the same strength but very slowly lower the weight back to the starting position.
  38. Pre-Workout
    Pre-workout is a supplement taken before workouts to give you energy and strength. It’s important to drink it responsibly.
  39. Full Range of Motion (ROM)
    Full range of motion is when you extend the exercise to the furthest beneficial point, instead of cheating yourself by only moving the weight minimal distances.
  40. Chalk
    Chalk is a white powder used to maintain a better grip on the bar for heavy lifters.
  41. Failure
    Going to failure means giving the exercise all that you have until you can no longer go on. It’s a good thing in the gym because it pushes your limits.
  42. Isolation Exercises
    Isolation exercises engage a single muscle, such as bicep curls or calf raises.
  43. Compound Exercises
    Compound exercises engage multiple muscles, such as bench press, squat, or deadlift.
  44. Plateau
    A plateau is an extended period of halted progression in the gym where you’ve been lifting the same weight for a couple of months.
  45. Work In
    Working in means someone requests to use the same free weights or machine as you during your rest period, and you take turns lifting.
  46. Ripped
    Ripped, jacked, and shredded are positive adjectives used to describe someone with massive muscles and low body fat.
  47. Swole
    Swole means extremely muscular or buff.
  48. Load/Rack
    Load means to put additional plates on the bar, while unload or unrack means to take all the plates off the bar.
  49. Macros
    Macros are short for macronutrients, which refer to protein, carbohydrates, and fats in your diet.
  50. pro
    Pro typically stands for “professional.” It is often used to refer to individuals who are experienced or skilled in a particular area of fitness or athletics, such as professional athletes or trainers. In some cases, it may also refer to certain equipment or training programs that are designed for advanced or professional-level use.


In conclusion, understanding these gym slang terms will make your gym experience more enjoyable and help you communicate better with other gym-goers. Remember to focus on proper form, push your limits, and have fun while making those gains!

If you’re on the hunt for even more terms, here’s Wikipedias list of fitness terms