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Weight Training Terminology For Beginners

Weight training is one of the best ways to shape up and lose weight. The benefits of weight training are too numerous to mention here. The purpose of this article is to help you understand the terminology of weight training so that you can better understand your trainer or salesperson. Perhaps you have thought about joining a gym. Perhaps you have called and inquired about cost, operating hours, whether or not someone would be available to help you or any other number of things. Perhaps you had your eye on a piece of exercise equipment and went and talked to a "salesman" at a department store. Either way you were probably hammered with some terms you did not understand. The gym tends to have a language of its own and this article is intended to help you with weight lifting terminology.

Here are some of the basics:

Routine - The series of exercises that you complete make up your routine. A whole body routine can be done in one day and repeated several times per week, but more than likely a routine will be broken up for Monday, Wednesday, Friday or any other combinations of days. Sometimes a routine will be 2 on 2 off or some other combinations of days. (Workout Monday and Tuesday and then be off Wednesday and Thursday, workout Friday and Saturday, and then off Sunday and Monday, etc. etc.)Remember when you are designing a routine or a personal trainer is designing you a routine; keep in mind that your body needs time to recuperate between workouts.

Repetitions - Remember in gym class when the teacher said "Do 25 jumping jacks"? Each jumping jack was a repetition. When a personal trainer is designing you an exercise routine more than likely they will base the number of repetitions they prescribe to you upon your particular goals.

Sets - If you do 25 jumping jacks and then rest a minute and do 25 more - you have completed two sets of 25 repetitions. A set is performing the prescribed number of repetitions and then resting. Sometimes a personal trainer will recommend one set per exercise and sometimes they will recommend numerous sets. Again, this depends on your particular goals.

Plate - If your personal trainer tells you to slap another plate on the bar what they are referring to is another weight. Plates come in 2.5, 5, 10, 25, 35, and 45 pound and higher increments.

Spot - Anyone ever ask you if you need a spot? A spot is simply assistance or someone watching out for you while you complete a set. Your personal trainer will be your full time spot or you can simply ask someone in the gym.

Partner - A partner is simply someone that you work out with.

Free Weights - Whuh? Free weights are weights that are not attached to a machine. You physically load the weights unto a bar.

Machines - Weight lifting machines are usually "pin selected" meaning you put a pin in to select the poundage you want to lift. Machines are different from free weights in that you usually don't have to balance the weight. The weight moves along a path that the machine's mechanics determine. Machine lifting is generally safer than free weights but in lifting free weights you tend to develop your "stabilizer" muscles because not only do you have to lift the weight but you also must control it.

Rack - Sometimes referred to as the "rack" the power rack can be used for many exercises. It is the big metal contraption you see over in the corner with holes drilled up both sides so that you can slide a safety bar in. Power racks can be used for squats and chin ups and many other exercises.

Circuit routine - A circuit routine combines cardiovascular exercise with weight training. A circuit routine is a routine where you would perform numerous exercises back to back without resting. A sample routine could be 25 jumping jacks followed by 25 push-ups followed by 25 squat thrusts all without resting. When you have finished the squat thrusts you would have completed one circuit. Your personal trainer may put you on a circuit routine to help you burn more calories while you tone up.

Negative - Sometimes you here someone in the gym say something like "Do two negatives!" What they are talking about is most easily described as the "lowering of the weight". If I press a weight overhead - The process of pressing it is considered the "positive" portion of the rep. When I lower the weight - that is the negative part of the rep. The negative part of the repetition is very important when it comes to resistance training. A partner will help you with the positive part of the rep and you control the negative. These are usually completed after some exhaustion has occurred in an effort to create more muscle breakdown.

Some of the body parts that may not be self explanatory:

  • Pecs - Refers to your chest
  • Lats - Refers to the muscles in your back that flare out
  • Hams - hamstrings
  • Glutes - Butt muscles
  • Traps - The muscles that go from your neck to your shoulders. Shrug and say "I don't know what he is talking about" and you just used your traps.
  • Bi's - Biceps
  • Tri's - Triceps
  • Quad's - Quadriceps or the muscles on the front of your legs
  • Delts - Your deltoid or shoulder muscles. Usually defined by rear, middle or front.
  • And last but not least - Abs - Stomach or Abdominal muscles.

Now for your homework: Call your local gymnasium or personal trainer and tell them you want a 3 on 1 off routine with moderate sets and reps focusing on free weights with special emphasis for your glutes and abs?.Just kidding.

I do hope that you have learned something from this article. Get to moving and enjoying the many benefits of weight training. Be stronger, leaner, and more confident starting tomorrow!

I wish for you the best of health!

Bill Herren

Bill Herren is the webmaster for Everything weight loss related! Weight loss success stories, product reviews, exercise articles, weight loss recipes, and diet articles. All Free and all designed to help you lose weight!


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