Learning Gym Lingo

Learn the different gym terms, to make your gym experience less intimidating.

Here's the gym terminology you'll need to hang with the muscle-heads; it's sure to make your conversations with the locals a bit easier:

  • Reps. Short for repetitions, meaning the number of times you do an exercise. Usually 6–15 reps make a set.
  • Sets. A group of repetitions. Usually you do 1–3 sets per exercise. (A man working on bicep curls might do 3 sets of 10 reps. This translates to 3 full rounds of 10 bicep curls each.)
  • “He's/she's ripped.” A major compliment about a guy or gal's defined physique.
  • “You've really got great definition in your …” A tired but effective gym come-on. Sort of gym slang for “wow” (drool, drool).
  • Being cut. Having well-defined muscles.
  • Being pumped. A temporary increase in the size of a muscle due to increased blood flow during exercise.
  • “Can I work in?” Someone wants to use the weight machine you are using, and she is asking whether she can alternate sets with you. Because the gym is usually crowded, it's normal practice to share equipment. For example, you do a set of 8 reps, then someone else changes the weight to do a set, then you again, and so on. This only makes sense when you have a bunch more to go. If you only have one more set left, reply, “This is my last set”—gym slang for “Hold your horses, fella, I'm almost done.”
  • “How many more sets do you have here?” Someone is getting antsy to use the weight machine and doesn't particularly want to “work in” with you. This is a polite way of saying, “Are you planning on staying here all day? Perhaps I could order you a cappuccino.”
  • “Can I get a spot?” Basically, someone is asking you to help him do an exercise with an amount of weight he is nervous about. Politely pass on this one if you don't know how to spot the exercise. Things could get ugly if a bad spot ruins his set (or worse, the weight lands on his head).
  • Juice. Slang for steroids. If muscle-heads are said to be “juicing,” you can be sure they're not talking about fresh produce.
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