Fitness Terminology and Gym Jargon You Need To Know - Medshield Movement

Fitness Terminology and Gym Jargon You Need To Know

So you’ve joined a running club, cycling group and got a personal trainer, but the gym jargon has you tongue-tied and confused? Don’t worry, we’ve got you covered with our fitness terminology fact sheet. Now you can sweat less about the words and focus on those gains. Plus check out our fun Tabata workout below!

Fitness Terms

AMRAP – As Many Rounds As Possible

Most likely heard in a CrossFit box, this kind of structured workout is about pushing yourself as much as possible during a set time frame.

BMI – Body Mass Index

A measurement of a person’s weight with respect to their height. The World Health Organization defines an adult with a BMI between 25 and 29.9 as overweight; over 30 is considered obese; below 18.5 is considered underweight, and between 18.5 to 24.9 a “healthy” weight. (This is more of a guideline and not used as an accurate measure of health.)

To calculate your body mass index, divide your weight in kilograms by height in metres squared. For e.g. a woman weighing 65kg will divide that by her height, 170cm, squared. Mathematical equation: 65 / 1.7 x 1.7 (2.89) = 22.4 = a “healthy” BMI.

DOMS – Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness.

DOMS is an expression you may often hear as gloat, disguised as a moan:  “Yoh, I’ve got bad DOMS”. Any kind of exercise can lead to DOMS, which is a delayed onset of stiffness (usually about two days) after you’ve pushed yourself beyond what your body is used to. Likely culprits include running and weight training. You can help ease this by foam rolling and stretching, warming up and cooling down sufficiently.

EMOM – Every Minute On The Minute

In an EMOM workout, you start a new move with a specific rep count every minute. Upon completion of the reps, you get to recover for the rest of the minute. It’s a powerful way to structure a workout that plays with your work-rest period dynamically.

For e.g. In the first minute you must complete 20 burpees; in the second minute 40 bicycle curls; third minute 20 push-ups and so on. If you complete 20 burpees in 40 seconds, you can rest for the remaining 20 seconds.

FTP – Functional Threshold Power

A term tossed around casually by experienced cyclists that can be confusing for new riders. Simply put, FTP is the average number of watts that a rider can sustain in an hour. It acts as a measure of fitness/strength. Free apps, like Wattbike, offer a 20-minute FTP test that you can complete on a watt bike. Other apps, like Sufferfest, take it further by testing 4DP to give you an indication of FTP, AC, NM and MAP. It helps to dictate and tailor-make cycling training programmes and is a good way to track performance and improvement.

HIIT – High-Intensity Interval Training

The perfect example of HIIT workouts is the live online training sessions with Medshield Ambassador Mapule Ndhlovu for the Medshield Movement.  It’s tough and meant to keep your heart rate high. It’s a form of interval training: a cardiovascular exercise strategy alternating short periods of intense anaerobic exercise with less-intense recovery periods – until you’re too exhausted to continue.


Rep is short for repetition and one “rep” is the action of one complete strength-training exercise, like one biceps curl. Sets are how many reps you do in a row between periods of rest. When a coach says: “Do three sets of 20 reps of deadlifts”, not only will you be tired, but you’ll be doing 60 deadlifts with two breaks (one after each 20 is completed).

RPE – Rated Perceived Exertion

RPE tells which intensity level you should be exercising at and can help with training programmes and tracking fitness. For e.g. If you are doing an online workout and it says that your RPE should be “two”, then you know it’s easy, compared to “eight”, which is super tough. Most exercise is done at a moderate level of three or four. If your coach instructs you to run at an RPE of 7, then you’re running at 70% of your body’s effort. The Strava fitness app defines the scale as:

– Easy (1-3): May talk normally, breathe naturally and feel very comfortable.

– Moderate (4-6): Could talk in short spurts, breathing feels more laboured, within your comfort zone, but working.

– Hard (7-9): May barely talk, breathe heavily, outside your comfort one.

– Max effort (10): At your physical limitation or past it, gasping for breath. No talking.

TABATA – A type of HIIT (see above)
This structured exercise has a specific format that you might come across in a CrossFit box or other gym studios. TABATA consists of eight sets of fast-paced exercises, each performed for 20 seconds interspersed with a brief rest of 10 seconds. It originated in Japan as a way to improve cardio and increase metabolism. Use this method to create a fun/hard workout for yourself at home! Here is an example to try:

20 seconds skipping, 10 seconds rest
20 seconds lunges on the right, 10 seconds rest
20 seconds lunges on the left, 10 seconds rest
20 seconds push-ups, 10 seconds rest
20 seconds high plank with shoulder taps, 10 seconds rest
20 seconds high plank with foot jumps (in and out), 10 seconds rest
20 seconds burpees, 10 seconds rest
20 seconds jumping squats, 10 seconds rest

Vo2 Max – Maximum Oxygen Uptake

Vo2 Max is your maximum rate of oxygen consumption measured during exercises of increasing intensity, like running faster (gradually) on a treadmill or picking up speed on an exercise bike. It is a measure of cardiorespiratory fitness that you can use to determine how fit you are and track performance. This is expressed as millilitres of oxygen per kilogram of body mass per minute (ml/kg/min).

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DISCLAIMER: The information provided on this website is for educational purposes only and is not intended as medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This content may contain information related to exercise, fitness, diet, and nutrition, which is intended solely for your personal use and informational purposes. Before commencing any exercise, fitness, diet, or nutrition regimen, especially if you are pregnant or have pre-existing health conditions, you should consult with a physician. Nothing on this site should be construed as medical advice or diagnosis. For any symptoms or health concerns, please consult a healthcare professional