If you’re new to the gym scene, it’s not just the machines, the equipment and the etiquette you’re going to need to get used to. Because when you join a gym, you step into a whole different world. A world that even has its own language. Needless to say, you’ll soon get the hang of the workout stations and you’ll start picking up the lingo just as quickly.

But if you’re the sort of person who likes to learn a few handy phrases before you visit a new country, here’s a quick glossary of a few workout words you can start getting to grips with.

BMRYour Basal Metabolic Rate is the amount of calories your body burns at rest.

Cardio: Short for Cardiovascular exercise. Think treadmill, rowing machine, exercise bike or aerobics class…whatever gets your heart pumping and your lungs straining.

Circuit: A series of exercises performed back to back with little or, if you’re feeling particularly perky, zero rest in between.

Core: Your lower back, mid back, abdominals, obliques and stabilisers together form the core, or trunk, of your body.

Delts: Another way to say shoulders (no idea what’s wrong with using ‘shoulders’).

DOMS:  You know that pain and stiffness in your muscles after a tough session? That’s Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness or DOMS. The best ways to treat it include low-intensity work, massages, saunas or even hot baths – anything that gets the blood flowing. Drinking plenty of water and eating protein can also help. However much you may want to, staying still can make things worse.

Free Weights: Dumbbells and barbells. Free weights are a great way to work out because they require more balance, engage more muscles and offer more versatility than working out on machines.

Glutes: Short for gluteas maximus. Or, in other words, your backside.  

Hams: Put the mustard down because we’re talking about the hamstrings at the back of your thighs. Ever see a footballer or runner suddenly pull up and grasp the back of their legs? Pulled hamstring.

HIIT: High-intensity interval training is becoming increasingly popular, giving you a great workout in the minimum amount of time. Short periods of intense exercise are followed by a short recovery before you go again.

Juice: If somebody offers you ‘juice’ in the locker room, they aren’t talking about freshly squeezed oranges. They’re talking about steroids.

Lats: Short for latissimus dorsi, lats is GymSpeak for back.

Gym talk: A mini GymSpeak / English dictionary-lats

Lean Mass: The amount of weight on your body that isn’t fat. Bodybuilders and fitness enthusiasts alike aim to lose weight while maintaining their lean body mass.

Maximum Heart Rate: Your MHR represents the upper limit of what your body can handle before your heart explodes. Or at least feels like it will. To work out your MHR, simply subtract your age from 220. Oh come on, surely you can do it without a calculator.

Pecs: Short for pectoral muscles, which in the outside world means your chest.

Quads: You’ll find your Quadriceps at the front of your thighs.

Recovery: It’s always advisable to take a short rest between sets. Shorter recovery times are best for fat burn and conditioning, while  longer recoveries are more suited to power lifting and bulking.

Rep: Short for repetitions, or how many times you perform a single exercise in a row.  

Resistance Training: Any form of training that pits your body against a force that resists your movement. Weightlifting is the obvious one, but don’t forget bodyweight exercises, dragging sleds, swimming, plus all the specialist equipment on the gym floor.

Set: A group of reps done without stopping. For example, you may perform three sets of 12 reps of a particular exercise.

Spot: If somebody approaches and asks you to spot for them, don’t run off screaming and inform a member of staff.  Spotting just means helping a fellow gym user with an exercise – being on hand to make sure a supremely heavy weight doesn’t come own on their own neck for example.

Target Heart Rate: To get the best results from an aerobic workout, you should be aiming to exercise within 70 – 85% of your maximum heart rate. Let’s say you’re 35 years old. Your maximum heart rate is 220 – 35 = er…hold on a second…185, that’s it. Your target heart rate will be between 70% (130 bpm) and 85% (157 bpm).*

Traps: Short for the trapezius muscles that span your neck, shoulders and upper back. When you ask for a massage you’ll have these in mind, although asking a stranger to ‘squeeze your traps’ is probably not the best idea in the world.


E² – your passport to the gym world

They say the best way to learn a language is by living in the country. So if you’re planning to pick up GymSpeak you’ll want to spend more time on the floor. Enter E². The completely free E²app connects you to some of London’s most sought after gyms whenever and wherever it suits you. Discover the grave new world of fitness on demand.

Search Esq2 in the AppStore or Esquared on Google Play.

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*OK, OK, so we used a calculator. And?