Fitness & Health Dictionary (Version 2.0)

Fitness and health dictionary

I bet you’ve stumbled across a word or acronym that made no sense at all when reading health articles at least once or twice. Maybe even in one of my blog posts (sorry!).

Well that’s never going to happen again because I have worked on an awesome fitness dictionary for you! It includes a short a description of the most important words and abbreviations from the health and fitness world. And I’ve just updated since it was first published in early 2016 with all the words from my running, lifting and yoga dictionary respectively + so much more!

#  A  B  C  D  E  F  G  H  I  J  K  L  M  N  O  P  Q  R  S  T  U  V  W  X  Y  Z

You can click on any of the letters above to quickly scroll down to the responding part of the page.


Fitness and health dictionary

1 is for 1 RM (this works better with the letters)

1RM: 1 Repetition Max, the maximum amount of weight you can lift for 1 rep. 2RM is the max for 2 reps etc.

5K: A 5 km race/run. 5 km = 3.1 miles

The 10% rule: Used in running, and is especially important for beginners. This is a rule of thumb that says you should not increase your mileage with more than 10% a week to avoid overtraning.

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Fitness and health dictionary

A is for Antioxidants

Acro yoga: a combination of acrobatics and yoga, where one person is the base, usually lying on the ground, holding up the flyer, who moves through dynamic poses.

Aerial yoga: a mix of yoga and aerial arts, performing poses on a fabric trapeze, carrying (some of) your bodyweight.

Aerobic: All types of physical activity (including running with low-moderate intensity) where you body has sufficient oxygen to use it to produce the necessary amount of energy.

Air Squat: A bodyweight squat – the air is the only resistance.

AMRAP: Short for As many rounds as possible. Often used in crossfit workouts, where you need to do a specific number of reps of one or more exercises as many rounds as possible for time. Here’s an example of an AMRAP workout.

Ana: Anorexia nervosa. An eating disorder characterized by extreme food restriction, irrational fear of gaining weight and a distorted personal body-image.

Anaerobic: When your body doesn’t have enough oxygen to meet energy demands of the activity, like during high intensity activities like sprinting. This is where lactate is produced as a (bi)product of the anaerobic breakdown of glucose.

Antioxidants: Molecule that inhibits the oxidation of other molecules and thereby protects the cell – though the health benefits of foods like blueberries containing them are often exaggerated.

Ashtanga: Type of yoga. Speciically a more athletic form of vinyasa yoga.

AT, Anaerobic threshold: In practice, it’s pretty much the same as LT. I know a teacher from my first year at uni insisted there was a small, but significant difference. However, all the websites I’m looking at uses the terms interchangably, and I can’t find any info in my -useless- notes. My guess is the difference has more to do with how it’s measured and how it’s defined on a molecular level, and in practice it’s at almost the same intensity. I’ll have to ask him if I ever bump into him!

ATG: Short for ‘Ass to Grass’ og ‘Ass to Ground’. It’s reaching full range of motion (going as low as possible) in a squat.

Atrophy: A decrease in muscle size/mass (caused by inactivity).

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Fitness and health dictionary

B is for Bulking. And bread.

BB, Barbell: Long bar where you can place weight discs at each end.

BCAA: Branched-Chain Amino Acid.

BF%: Body fat percentage.

BF% = (bodyweight - bodyfat)/bodyweight*100%

Bikram yoga: A form of hot yoga with 26 basic postures, each repeated twice during practice.

Bilateral exercise: The exercise is done on both the left and right side at the same time. Opposite of unilateral exercises.

BMI: Body mass index. A measure for human body shape based on an individual’s height and weight. Not a reliable tool for measuring health alone.

BMI = mass(kg)/(height(m)2)= mass(lbs)/(height(in)2) *703

BMR: Basal Metabolism Rate. The amount of energy expended if you spend all day without moving (the energy is used by your vital organs to keep your heart beating and such). What it’s not: Eat this much to lose weight (you need much more in nearly all cases).

BP: Short for Bench Press.

BPM: Beats pr. Minute. Unit for measuring the tempo of music.

Bulking: Being on a calorie surplus in order to gain muscle mass/weight. Opposite of cutting.

Bumper plates: The plates to some barbells are rubberized so they don’t mess up the floor when you drop them. But before you start throwing around with barbells, you might want to check if that’s allowed in your gym.

BW: Short for bodyweight, an exercise with no equipment but your own flesh. (While it’s still part of your body. I hope I don’t have to clarify that).

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Fitness and health dictionary

C is for Carbs

C25K: Couch to 5K. A running program for beginners wanting to run 5K.

Cable: Machine consisting of a wheel with a grooved rim in which a pulled rope or chain can run to lift a load.

Cadence: The stride rate, meaning the number of steps you take pr minute while running.

Calorie: The amount of energy it takes to raise the temperature of one gram of water by one degree Celsius.

Carbohydrates: Not the devil. Macronutrient the body breaks down to glucose, which fuels all bodily functions.

Cardio: Cardiovascular exercise. Exercise that raises your heart rate. Involves the majority of the your muscles.

Chakras: Energy centers in the body – there’s a total of 7 (belief originating in Eastern spiritual traditions).

Childs pose: In yoga. Knees hip width apart, kneeling on the mat. Hips pushed backwards so the upper body can rest on the thighs, and arms either reaching forward or resting at sides.

Circuit training: A circuit consist of multiple exercises that is done in a given sequence for a set period of time or repetitions with little rest between most switches. The circuit is often done multiple times.

C&J: Short for Clean and jerk. [video]

CNS: Central Nervous System. Consists of your brain and spinal cord, and is responsible for processing sensory information and executing movements.

Compound moves: Exercises that involves movement over two or more joints (like squat). Opposite of isolation moves.

Concentric movement: When your muscle shortens while contracting, lifting the weight. Example: lifting the weight up in a bicep curl. Opposite of eccentric movements.

Conversational pace: Exercising at a pace that’s relaxing enough to let you speak in complete sentences without sounding like you’re dying.

Cool-down: Being the opposite of a warm-up, cooling down helps your body gradually transition out of ‘workout mode’

Cross training: An exercise regiment that uses several kinds of training to improve overall performance. It can help you train more without substantially increasing your risk of injury by supplementing a high impact activity like running with low impact ones, like swimming or cycling.

Crossfit:  A strength and conditioning method focusing on functional movements performed at a high intensity.

Crossfit Box: That’s what crossfitters call their gym.

Crown of the head: As you will have guess, this is right at the top of your head – where you wear your crown when you dress up as a princess. Often the teacher will tell you to raise the crown of your head towards the ceiling to elongate your spine and improve your posture.

Cutting: Being on a calorie deficit in order to lose fat/weight. Opposite of bulking.

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Fitness and health dictionary

D is for Dumbbells

DOMS: Short for Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness, the typical muscle soreness you get after a new or extra intense workout.

Downward dog: Wouldn’t it be perfect if I could get a dog to demonstrate this?

Dropset: Performering 1 set of an exercise immediately followed by another set with of the same exercise with a lower weight. Can be repeated until your muscles are basically dead.

Dumbbell, DB: Hand weight. Very short bars with weight at each end.

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Fitness and health dictionary

E is not for eating clean, because clean eating is rubbish

Eating clean: A clear, objective definition of clean eating does not exist.

Eccentric movement: When your muscles elongates while contracting – slowing down the weights descend. Example: lowering the weight in a bicep curl (the weight would come down a lot faster if you just let gravity do it’s thing). Opposite of concentrive movements.

EMOM: Short for Every minute on the minute. Like AMRAP, it’s often used in Crossfit workouts. When a new minute begins, you do an exercise for x reps, then rest until a new minute starts. Here’s an example of an EMOM workout.

Endurance: is the ability to run for extended periods of time. For long distance runners it’s not as important to have a high VO2max as it is to be able to run at a high percentage of it for long periods of time.

EPOC, Excess Post-Exercise Oxygen Consumption: You know when you’re super out of breath after sprinting. This is it. It refers to the ‘oxygen-debt’ you have after doing anaerobic work as the body afterwards needs oxygen to remove waste products.

EZ bar: a type of barbell, often shorter, and bent in a way that allows you to hold your wrists in a more comfortable position when doing bicep curls.

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Fitness and health dictionary

F is for Foot strike

Fartlek: Or in danish, fartleg. It’s running based on intuition and your surroundings. Like sprinting to the stone that looks like a dead duck. The fact that the intervals are less rigid gives freedom and variation, and can make interval training more fun.

Fat: Macronutrient with a diverse structure and essential for a healthy body. One of fat’s roles is in the human body is protection through insulation and cushioning organs.

Fiber: Dietary fiber. Indigestible carbohydrate (found in food from plants). Helps with preventing constipation and keeps your bowels healthy.

Fire breathing, Kapalbhati: A pranayama breathing technique used during a sequence of fast, repetitive movements called Kundalini. Also practiced by dragons. [Related to: Yoga]

Foot strike: The matter in which your foot hits the ground while running – can be forefoot, mid-foot or heel.

Frontal plane: Divides the body into an anterior and posterior side. Movements typically involve abduction and adduction like in lateral raises and sidebends.

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Fitness and health dictionary

G is for Glycemic index.

GIGlycemic Index. Number associated with how big an effect a specific type of food has on a person’s blood glucose level in isolation, where 100 is pure glucose.

Giant set: Same as supersets, but with 3 or more exercises.

GHD: Glute hamstring developer. A piece of exercise equipment. [Video].

Gluten:  Protein found in whey, rye, barley and triticale. Not unhealthy unless you’re gluten intolerant [Learn more]

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Fitness and health dictionary

H is for Hypertrophy

Hatha yoga: A general form of yoga that includes many styles. What’s central is the pairing of asanas with breathing exercises. Usually more beginner friendly than say, vinyasa yoga.

HIIT:  High intensity interval training. Alternating between short intervals of high intensity work and low intensity work or resting.

HRM: Heart Rate Monitor. Chest strap and/or watch that measures your heart rate.

Hypertrophy: Increase in muscle size/mass.

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Fitness and health dictionary

I is for isometric planks

Isolation moves: Exercises that involves movement over a single joint (think biceps curls – only moving at the elbow). Opposite of compound moves.

Isometric exercise: Static exercise. Exercise where the joint angle and muscle length remains unchanged during contraction (like planks)

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Fitness and health dictionary

J is for…. that one thing

Jnana Mudra: Handposition where the thump and index finger comes together, palms upwards. Often used during meditation.
Like this, but in a slightly different context:

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Fitness and health dictionary

K is for Kettlebells

Keto: Ketogenic diet. A diet extremely low in carbs to make the body go into ketosis.

Kettlebell, KB: Aka girya. A weight formed like a ball with a handle. Good for improving strength, power, coordination and flexibility.

Kipping: Often used in relation to pull ups, it’s when you use momentum to complete the rep – opposite strict reps.

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Fitness and health dictionary

L is for LSD

LISS: Low Intensity Steady State. Cardio at a low-moderate intensity. Think long & slow.

Lotus position: sitting cross-legged with your feet on top of your legs rather than on the floor.

LSD: Short for Long slow distance. Not the trippy kind.

LT, Lactate Threshold: also called OBLA, Onset of Blood Lactate Accumulation. The highest intensity level at which the rate of lactate production equals that of lactate clearance. An important factor when it comes to endurance. For untrained, it’s at roughly 65-75% of VO2max, for athletes it’s about 80-90% of VO2max.

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Fitness and health dictionary

M is for Metabolism

Mantra: A few syllables or a short sentence to repeat when meditating.

Metabolism:  Collection of life-sustaining chemical reactions within the body, including digestion where you break down food to get energy.

MetCon: Short for Metabolic Condition. And you might have guessed it, it’s a crossfit thing – often AMRAP workouts, always with high intensity to improve conditioning.

Mia: Bulimia nervosa. An eating disorder characterised by binge eating and purging.

Mountain pose: In yoga. Standing up with feet slightly apart firmly planted the floor, arms at the sides and reaching the crown of your head toward the ceiling.

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Fitness and health dictionary

N is for Namaste

Namaste: A really slacker way of saying “Nah, I’m gonna stay”. It’s an honorable Indian greeting. It wasn’t very honorable of me to make that joke.

Negative split: When the second half of your run is faster than the first.

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Fitness and health dictionary

O is for overtraining

OCR: Short for obstacle course racing. It’s race where runners need to overcome military-inspired obstacles, like. There’s often high walls and lots of mud.

OHP: Overhead Press. A shoulder exercise where you press a barbell from your chest overhead, standing upright. [Video].

Olympic Lifting: A sport that focuses on lifting the maximum combined weight for 1 rep in the snatch and clean & jerk. (Am I the only who LOVED watching this at the olympics?)

Om: A mantra sometimes chanted during yoga sessions, considered to have high spiritual and creative power. Also, I just learned that’s what this symbol means:


Overtraining: In short: exercising too much or too fast too soon. [Read more about overtraining]

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Fitness and health dictionary

P is for protein

Pace: A term that descipes how fast you’re running, usually expressed in minutes pr kilometer or mile.

Paleo: Paleolithic diet. A diet based on what some people think some people consumed during the Paleolithic era (from ~2.6 mio years ago to ~10 000 BP)

Pilates:  An exercise system developed by Joseph Pilates. It focuses training the body through core strength, flexibility, balance and bodily awareness.

Planes of motionWhen describing movement of the human body, it can be broken down to a movement primarily in one of the three anatomical planes, though at individual joint level, the movement might be in several planes.

Plyometrics: aka plyos, jump training. Exercise involving repeated rapid stretching and contracting of muscles (as by jumping and rebounding) to increase muscle power. [Source]

Powerlifting:  A sport that focus on the three lifts: squat, bench press and deadlift and trying to lift as much weight as possible for a single rep.

PR/PB: Personal record/Personal best. Your fastest time for a given distance.

Pranayama (in yoga): a controlled way of breathing.

Pronation: The way a runner’s foot roll inwards when running. Some people overpronate and others underpronate (called Supination). This is one of the reasons why it’s important to find a running shoe that fits you.

Pull movements: When the movement is towards the center of the body while the primary muscle contracts concentrically (think bent over rows, pull ups etc).

Push movements: When the movement is away from the center of the body while the primary muscle contracts concentrically (think bench press, push ups).

Purging: Attempt to get rid of a meal just consumed; can include taking a laxative, vomiting or excessive exercise which is very bad for you.

Protein:  Macronutrient consisting of amino acids. Functions include  building, maintaining and repairing body tissue.

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Fitness and health dictionary

R is for running

Rabbit: A pacesetter who leads the race, normally in the beginning to set a higher pace, then dropping out later.

RDL: Short for Romanian Deadlift [Video].

RE, Running economy: Refers to the aerobic cost of a given distance in relation – it’s all about efficiency, and an important measure for medium to long distance runners. If you’re ready to get nerdy with me, here’s the formula:

RE = mL(O2)/(kg*km).

Recovery run: A easy, slow run to get your body moving after a tough workout – without being challenging.

Rep: Repetition. Completing the full movement of an exercise.

Resistance training: A method of improving muscular strength or endurance by gradually increasing the ability to resist force through the use of free weights, machines, or the person’s own body weight (strength training, weight lifting, lifting is sometimes used as a synonyms). [Source]

Restorative yoga: A type of yoga. This is all about relaxing in easy asanas for a long time, perfect if you’re recovering from an injury, kinda sick, need some active recovery, or want to focus more on the spiritual and mental part than the physical part of yoga.

ROM: Short for Range of motion. It’s the amount of movement you can have at each joint. It’s normally best to perform the full range of motion for the exercise – unless you have a reason to do otherwise (like I have bad knees for squatting).

Running form: this refers to your running technique, how your body moves while running – do you land with your heel or midfoot first?

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Fitness and health dictionary

S is for sagittal plane (and squats!)

Sacrum: Bone at the bottom of the spine and center of the back of the pelvis, including the tailbone.

Sagittal plane: Lateral plane. Divides the body into a right and left side. Movements in this plane is typically flexion and extension like squats and front raises.

Sanskrit: Ancient, sacred language of hinduism.

Sarcopenia: muscle loss associated with ageing.

Savasana: Yoga post where you look like a dead corpse. Well, savasana does mean corpse pose. It’s where you lie on your back, legs slightly apart and palms facing up. So relaxing!

Sit bones: You know those bones in the buttocks that’s designed to drill holes into other people’s thighs when you sit on their lap? That’s the sit bones.

Sets: One set is a number of reps done in a row with little to no rest in between.

Smith machine, SM: Machine with a barbell fixed in steel rails so it can only move vertically.

Sternum: Right at the middle of your chest, the sternum is where your ribs emerge from. Kinda like a short tie, but on the inside. And made of bone.

Sun salutation: A specific yoga sequence of asanas: Mountain pose, standing forward bend, lunge, plank pose, chatarunga, upward-facing dog, downward-facing dog. There’s always some form of sun salutation in the first half of all yoga classes I’ve been to.

Superset:  Alternating between 2 or more exercises for one set at time with little to no rest in between. The two exercises often target different muscle groups.

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Fitness and health dictionary

T is for Tabata

Tabata: It’s a form of interval training where you work for 20 seconds, rest for 10 for a total of 3 minutes. Here’s an example.

Taper: A period, usually leading up to a race, where you reduce your training volume to reach peak performance levels at the race.

Tempo run: a fast-paced run, typically with an intensity around your LT, lactate threshold (see L).

Toning: A term often misused. There?s no such thing as toning exercises. You can’t tone your muscles. When you think of toned, what you actually think is more muscle mass (+ less fat).

Transverse plane: Divides the body into an upper and lower part. Movements in this plane involves internal and external rotation like russian twist.

Tree pose: In yoga. Bringing the sole of one of your feet to rest at the inside of the opposite leg from mountain pose.

TUT: Short for Time under Tension. Refers to how long a muscle is under stress during an exercise – the tempo. Written like 2-1-2, which translates to lifting the weight for 2 seconds pause at the top for 1 second, lowering the weight for 2 seconds.

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Fitness and health dictionary

U is for Unilateral exercise

Unbroken: When you need to perform all the moves in a row (no resting!) or start over from the beginning in a WOD.

Unilateral exercise: Isolate one side (left or right) at the time (think single leg squat). Opposite bilatelral exercises.

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Fitness and health dictionary

V is for vinyasa yoga

VO2_max: The maximum volume of oxygen you can take in pr. minute. Can be used as an indicator of your fitness level.

Vinyasa: Type of yoga. A flowing sequence of poses, where movement is synchronized with the breath.

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Fitness and health dictionary

W is for WOD

Warrior pose, I-III: In yoga. 3 different poses, starting from a lunge, in pose 1 your chest faces forward and arms reaching upward. From here you can transition into warrior II by turned your back foot out, chest turned to the side and arms stretched front and back, respectively. You can also transition into warrior III by leaning forward at your hips and lifting the back leg, as shown in this gif:

WOD: Workout Of the Day. Especially used in crossfit.

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Fitness and health dictionary

Y is for Yoga

Yin yoga: A slow type of yoga where poses are held for a long time. It’s very passive, giving the muscles a break and stretching the connective tissue, increasing flexibility.

Yoga: A practice that focuses on both physical and mental exercise. It comes from India, and involves during a series of poses, meditation and breathing techniques.

Yoga block: Often made of foam or cork, blocks are used to give extra support in difficult poses.

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Fitness and health dictionary

Z is for …Zomething I don’t have a picture of

Zumba:  An aerobic type of exercise that combines latin and salsa dance moves.

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What word should be added next? Let me know in the comments!

Gif that says lots of love, Anne xx

Since you made it to the end, you may as well follow me on Instagram – but their algorithm is a bit of a mystery, so you can sign up to the newsletter to not miss out on the best posts! ✨

Fitness & Health Dictionary (Version 2.0)Fitness & Health Dictionary (Version 2.0)
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  1. says: Kate

    Thank you for this article, Anna – it is very informative and helpful. I like your style of writing, too. Glad you are educating us, readers.

  2. says: Ella Pinto

    As someone who works out quite alot, this is more helpful than you think. I thought I knew most things I needed to know, but there are few things I was like “oh that’s what it means” ahahah so thank you.

    1. says: Anne

      Good to hear! There was some of the crossfit ones I’m so used to hearing, but I didn’t actually know what they stood before I wrote this 😀

  3. says: Julia @ Lord Still Loves Me

    OKAY THIS WAS SO HELPFUL. Like sooooooooo freaking helpful. I didn’t know what a ton of these were. 1RM, AMRAP, DOMS, EZ bar… just to name a few. Wow.

    I love your tip to the Carbohydrates: Not the Devil. <- So much yes.

    THANK YOU FOR THIS. I’m pinning it, bookmarking it, tweeting, just about anything I can do! Haha this post is a game changer for me, seriously!

  4. Hi Anne! Oh YES! Nice work on this! You hit abbreviations that I wasn’t familiar with, so I appreciate this. One to add? Functional exercises or functional movement, which mirrors moves that we would do in our everyday lives. I will be sharing this resource!!