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Fitness Dictionary: Jargon Buster (Part I)

If you’re just getting into a workout schedule and beginning to really bone up on your fitness knowledge, there’s A LOT of fancy words people like to throw around that might not make a lot of sense. No one likes to look dumb (except me when I’m taking pictures!), so here’s a quick cheat-sheet on what’s what in some of the more oft-mentioned bits of fitness jargon.

Aerobic: Low to slightly elevated intensity exercise that keeps your heart at 60-80% its max rate.

Anabolic: The process in which the body builds muscle mass with growth and repair. This is the growth stage and is achieved through fueling the body with repairing nutrients (IE- regular eating and supplementation every 2-3 hours) and rest.

Anaerobic: High intensity “power” exercise where the heart rate exceeds the 80% max rate.

BMR (Basal Metabolic Rate): Number of calories your body burns per day while at complete rest and also refers to the minimum number of calories you need to sustain life. Exact BMR is calculated through controlled environment clinical tests while general BMR can be found by specific formula, including the formula in the P90X and Insanity Nutrition Guides.

BMI (Body Mass Index): The measurement of body weight to body height used to determine fat composition/obesity. Unfortunately, if you have muscle mass, this formula is pretty much worthless and is an goes overboard in the “false positive”. Formula: BMI = Pounds/inches in height.

  • 30+ is obese.
  • 25-29 is overweight.
  • 18.5-24 Normal.
  • <18.5 is underweight.

Burn: The point at which a burning sensation enters the muscles as the same movement is used in repetition close to failure. Usually caused by the release of lactic acid. You want this.

Calories: Measurement of energy. In fitness/food, the measurement of energy contained in a food and/or needed or consumed by an individual.

  1. Empty Calories: Calories mostly devoid of nutritional value– high in sugar and over-processed. Can be used for quick fuel but also easily stored as fat.

Carbs (Carbohydrates): Carbs are the main energy source for the body. Once broken down it’s used as glucose and stored in muscle as glycogen. Unused Carbs are stored as fat.

  1. Simple Carbs: Usually don’t have much fiber and high in sugar– fruit juice, white bread, table sugar. Typically produce insulin surge which triggers the body to store fat.Usually “white”.
  2. Complex Carbs:  Higher in fiber and thus absorbed more slowly by the body. This includes whole grains, brown rice, Quinoa, etc. Usually “brown”.

Catabolic: The process in which the body breaks down muscle tissue to access energy stores. Causes reduction in muscle mass– caused by fasting and extended exercise as the body blows through its ready supplies of glycogen and begins tapping into reserves held in muscle.

Circuit Training: Welcome to P90X. A fitness routine usually performed with back to back exercises using little or no rest between sets.

Concentric Movement: The release of the “tightening” or “flex” in a muscle movement.

Creatine: High energy molecule stored in muscle cells. As a supplement it is used to increase muscle performance and load.

Essential Amino Acids: Eight of the twenty-three different amino acids needed to make proteins in adults; called essential because they must be obtained from the diet since they cannot be manufactured by the body.

Fat Burning Zone: A term to describe the 60-80% heart rate zone where the body targets mostly fat for energy.

Fats: One of three essential micronutrients (including protein and Carbohydrates). While stored as energy it cushions organs and body parts and insulates the body. We need a percentage of body fat.

  1. “Good” Fats: Omega 3 Fatty Acids, Polyunsaturated and Monounsaturated fats. These are fats your body needs and uses. IE- fats you don’t need to be afraid of and that should be taken in 20-30% of your daily intake. These fats include, Avacados, nuts, olive oil, peanut butter, salmon, some poultry.
  2. “Bad” Fats: Saturated Fat, TransFats, Cholesterol > 300 mg a day. These are fats attributed to heart disease and high cholesterol. Usually found in man-made, processed foods and animal products: Full-fat cheese, beef, bacon, butter, margarine and pre-made cookies/snacks.

Eccentric Movement: The shortening or contracting (“Tightening” or “flexing”) of a muscle of a muscle movement.

Form: The proper alignment of the body to focus a particular exercise on the muscle/movement the exercise for best results and to avoid injury. Using improper form brings other muscles and movement into the exercise, which can lessen the impact or result in injury.

Glutamine: Glutamine is the most commonly occurring or “abundant” amino acid in the body and is used in repairing your body. In short, Glutamine works as both a medic and a soldier– repairing your body and helping it with the necessary defense it needs.

Is your thirst for knowledge and alphabetical fitness definition unsatisfied? Read on:

(Part II: I-R)

(Part III: S-Z) 

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