Home / Just For Laughs / The Definitive Gym Language Guide: 53+ Gym Slang Terms Explained
The Definitive Gym Language Guide: 53+ Gym Slang Terms Explained16/08/2019
The gym can be an intimidating place.
Well, kind of.
Not only is it laden with different personalities who have little to no knowledge of how stuff actually works, or how they’re done…
It can often feel like you’re having to decode encrypted WWII messages using a tub of sub-par protein powder and sweaty hand wraps with all of the gym lingo and gym slang thrown about.
It gets worse:
For newcomers especially,
One wrong word and you’ll end up in a situation that escalates quicker than a late-night encounter with Mike Tyson on a street corner.
“I didn’t mean to call you a wanker, Mike, I was simply trying to grab this dumbbell. Please don’t bite my ear off!’
If you’re walking through those gym doors for the first time and want to avoid any embarrassing blunders that will throw you in hot water, below are a list of gym words we have untangled for you to get you going.
Not only that:
We’ve also uncovered the real meaning behind a few common gym phrases as this is akin to learning Mandarin with your eyes and ears shut.
List of Gym Words Defined
Shorthand for ‘repetitions’, reps is the number of times a single exercise is performed consecutively.
Example: ‘Hold my beer, I’m about to crank out 12 reps of bicep curls’.
A group of repetitions done consecutively without resting or until a certain number has been reached.
Example: ‘Bro, how many more sets do you have left?’ … ‘I’m just starting out with 5 sets of 5 reps, dick’.
Shorthand for ‘as many reps (or rounds) as possible’, AMRAP is performed on a specific exercise (or a circuit of exercises) in a certain period of time to pump as much blood in the working muscle as possible.
Example: ‘How many reps are we doing?’ … ‘Fuck it, AMRAP bro!’
Denotes the progress one has made in either leanness, size or strength. However, it can also be used in various other ways that brings pleasure (either positively or negatively).
Example: ‘Have you seen Dave lately? He’s made all kinds of gains!‘
Example 2: ‘No, this is my last drink. I don’t want to kill my gains even further’.
Example 3: ‘Dude, that cunt is so fat now, he must’ve been making some Big Mac gains!’
A newly joined or inexperienced member of the gym (usually due to some ‘new year, new me‘ mentality).
This term is unofficially stuck with an individual until they’ve completed at least 1 year of solid training and made some well deserved gains to show for it.
Example: ‘Mate, the fact that he’s been EZ bar curling in the squat rack for the last 30 minutes shows he’s a noob around here’.
Typifies someone with a strong muscular frame with an added level of leanness.
Example: ‘Damn, he’s so jacked!’
Similar in meaning to ‘jacked’, shredded signifies someone with an extremely low level of body fat with well define arms and abs.
Example: ‘Man, he must live in the gym ’cause he’s looking like shredded wheat!’
A muscular person with a very large frame, normally with a high level of body fat.
Example: ‘Fuck me, you’re looking hella swole!’
The process of performing a number of reps (or rounds) on a particular exercise (or circuit) until one is no longer physically capable of doing any more.
Example: ‘Dude, I’m gonna hit failure on these cable flies until my tits start trembling’.
Yet another word to describe someone as either big, strong or muscular.
Example: ‘I’ve been hitting the gym 5x a week and been getting so hench that I have to walk through every door sideways!’
PB or PR
Short for ‘personal best’ or ‘personal record’, PB or PR is often used as a vanity metric to impress the opposite (or same) sex to show one’s strength/power on a particular exercise.
Example: ‘Dude, I just set a new PB on the leg press machine at 200kg. I’m so gonna get laid tonight!’
Refers to the feeling of blood being ‘pumped’ into a particular muscle or group of muscles during vigorous exercise causing it to expand in size and increase in tightness.
The term was also famously compared to the feeling of cumming by Arnold Schwarzenegger in the classic bodybuilding documentary ‘Pumping Iron’.
Frequently used as a verb to perform a ‘bench press’ exercise.
Example: ‘How much can you bench bro?’
Example: ‘On international chest day, I bench my fucking tits off until my pecs begin to tremor causing a 9.5 magnitude earthquake!’
The process of alternating sets of two different exercises with no rest in between.
Example: ‘After I finish bicep curling this son of a gun, I’m gonna super set with a few tricep dips’.
The process of completing as many reps as possible on a particular exercise and immediately reducing the weight/resistance until failure is achieved.
Example: ‘Man, I was dropping it like it was hot last night, it was crazy! Drop set after drop set has left my chest sore as hell’.
Either an area of the gym, or pieces of equipment which are not attached to an exercise machine. This normally includes kettlebells, plates, dumbbells, barbells, pull-up/dip stations, benches and a squat/deadlift rack(s)/area.
The free weight area is also known to separate the serious gym goers from the non-serious, but is commonly left in a shit storm by those either on their sixth dose of dianabol for the day, or weedy human skid marks who suddenly lose all strength to re-rack their weights.
Example: ‘Dude I was in the free weight area for 3 hours yesterday and was being a complete dick by not re-racking my weights and leaving my sweaty ball bag stains everywhere’.
Denotes performing an exercise with good technique so as to ensure one does not cause injury in the process.
Example: ‘Bro, your rounded back during deadlifts is poor form! You need to fix that shit before you end up like the Hunchback of Notre Dame’.
To assist or support someone with an exercise especially when high levels of weight/resistance are involved.
Example: ‘After farting and following through last time, I think it will be better for me to get a spot when I bench press this 25kg’.
Short for ‘cardiovascular’, the term cardio often refers to physical exercises or activities which increase your heart rate normally on equipment that doesn’t involve weights such as a treadmill, elliptical or bicycle.
You’ll often find that a lot of weight lifters will talk shit about those who perform cardio, but don’t take it personally.
Example: ‘Summer is coming mate, so I’m gonna be performing cardio to burn off these love handles’ … ‘Cardio ruins gains bruh!’
Example: ‘Cardio? … Is that Spanish?’
Example: Does running away from your problems count as cardio?
Anecdotal knowledge which is frequently passed around the gym through word of mouth as a matter of fact.
‘Bro Science’ is generally dogmatised by unqualified, yet confident individuals who have a questionable lifting record and base their conclusions from discussions in online forums or fitness magazines with no scientific basis.
Example: ‘Bro, if you don’t consume a good source of protein within 30 minutes of your workout, you’ll go straight catabolic!’
Example: ‘Dude, if you’re not constantly eating every 2-4 hours, you risk slowing down your metabolism and getting fatter!’ … ‘That’s some bro science, bro. I suggest you lay off the steroid forums and go back to masturbating everyday’.
A workout routine (mostly for needle-loving, walking meatballs or uninformed gym noobs) that consists of training a particular muscle or groups of muscles on a particular day.
For instance, a typical bro split might be:
· Monday – Back
· Tuesday – Chest
· Wednesday – Shoulders
· Thursday – Legs (often skipped on numerous accounts)
· Friday – Biceps and Triceps
Those who do a bro split normally perform circuits on machines with little to no knowledge of how they are training and can be seen ‘exercising’ without consideration of their form.
Example: ‘I’ve seen great results performing full-body workouts 3x a week’ … ‘Fuck that placebo bullshit dude, bro splits are where it’s at!’
The process of putting on additional muscle size to one’s frame by eating more food (usually with high amounts of protein), increasing overall calorie count and lifting heavier weights.
The term ‘bulking’ is typically used as an excuse by those who are getting fatter as opposed to putting on more muscle, usually because they are being fed (pun intended) misinformation through bro science.
Example: ‘Damn, you’re getting a bit fluffy’ … ‘It’s bulking season bro!’
A type of exercise which engages a single muscle. For instance: bicep curl, tricep rope pull down, crunches and calf raises.
Whilst isolation exercises can help improve the size or strength of a single muscle that might be lacking in these areas, they are commonly exploited by those who cannot fathom the idea of training multiple muscles simultaneously to enhance their results.
This is in part down to poor education or just being a straight up pussy.
Example: ‘I’m going to be isolating my biceps and curling like a motherfucker everyday until they grow to 22 inches’ … ‘Stop being such an isolating curl monkey and do some damn chin-ups!’
A type of exercise which engages more than one muscle or groups of muscles. For instance: bench press, squat, deadlifts, lunges, dips and pull-ups.
They are normally all that are performed by the serious lifters at the gym (the 1%) who would love nothing more than to laugh at you breaking your back by re-racking their weights after setting a new PB.
Compound exercises are often more difficult to perform than isolation exercises due to the incorporation of more than one muscle being used in a particular exercise. Thus, a focus on form is vital to avoid serious injury.
Example: ‘It was compound galore at the gym last night dude… squats, deadlifts, pull-ups, rows and bench press. Those isolation whores were completing 2 full sets just by re-racking my shit!’
Performing a series of exercises using high intensity aerobics, moving from one to another in quick succession with little to no rest.
Example: ‘Where the fuck has John been? I’ve not seen him in a while?’
….’Oh, he’s been doing that circuit training lately. You know, the type where one minute your doing burpees, push ups and battle ropes, then you start telling yourself it was a big mistake and start puking like a 12 year old girl whose just got off Saw at Thorpe Park, all whilst your gym crush laughs in your face, getting her ass grabbed by that dude who curls what you bench, tragic’.
The state in which little to no change is being seen in one’s own physique despite continued effort put in at the gym/in one’s own diet.
Plateauing is an inevitable cause that will befall even the most serious of lifter(s), unless serious action is taken to shock one’s own body into change.
Example: ‘Fuck me, I’ve been doing these bicep curls, crunches and tit flies for 6 months now and I’m still not seeing any progress in my upper torso’ … ‘What do you expect you daft cunt, you’ve hit a plateau because you’ve been doing the same old bollocks week in, week out. Stop being a little bitch and switch it up!’
A training method designed to fatigue the working muscle(s) and increase muscular growth. Pyramiding involves performing an exercise which involves starting out with a light weight and high reps and progressively moving towards a heavier weight with lower reps (known as ascending pyramids).
See example below for a barbell bench press:
· Set 1 – 50kg x 12 reps
· Set 2 – 65kg x 10 reps
· Set 3 – 80kg x 8 reps
· Set 4 – 95kg x 6 reps
· Set 3 – 110kg x 4 reps
Pyramiding also works in reverse as well (known as descending pyramids). This is where you start off with a heavier weight and lower reps and begin to gradually decrease the weight and increase the reps.
Example: ‘I’m sick and tired of seeing no gains. I’m gonna be doing pyramid training on a few exercises until I start seeing some damn progress!’
A training method which involves lifting heavy weights or training at maximum intensity until you hit muscular failure. Then, a momentary rest/pause is taken (usually lasting a few seconds) and the exercise is resumed until failure is achieved again.
A good example of rest-pause training is doing weighted pull-ups. Once you begin to reach failure, you let go of the bar briefly, quickly catch your breath and repeat the exercise with strict form until you are done.
Example: ‘One more rep!’ … ‘Are you crazy bro? I hit failure 3 reps ago! I’m gonna do a rest-pause to reorient myself’.
Meaning to go to the gym on an empty stomach.
Normally done before/during a cardio session, commonly known as ‘fasted cardio’.
Example: ‘Did you get your fasted cardio in today?’ … ‘Yeah, I was seeing stars on the treadmill, smashed my phone and almost broke my leg!’
Acronym for ‘Intermittent Fasting’.
I.F. is where you cycle between periods of fasting and eating.
A common intermittent fasting method can involve periods of fasting ranging between 16 hours – 24 hours.
The most popular protocol, however, is the 16/8 or the Leangains Method. This entails restricting your feeding window to 8 hours a day (between 12pm – 8pm for instance), and fasting for the remaining 16 hours of the day.
Example: ‘Mate, come join us for pizza’ … ‘I can’t, I’m intermittent fasting at the moment and I’m out of my feeding window’ … ‘Sounds like horse shit! More for me I guess’.
The opposite of a bulk, to cut means to simply lose weight (in the form of body fat) by consuming fewer calories in a day than normal.
The end goal of cutting is to look leaner with visible definition across one’s body (most notably on the abs), which isn’t possible until a lower amount of body fat is achieved.
Example: ‘Bulking season is done, I’m ‘going on a cut tomorrow’ as soon as I’ve eaten all of my flat mates’ original glazed Krispy Kreme doughnuts’.
An abbreviation of the word ‘macronutrients’, macros refers to the 3 basic components on one’s diet namely: protein, carbohydrates and fats.
It also commonly used in the context to describe the exact amounts (in either a % or per gram) one must meet or stay under per day in order to see results in the gym.
Example: ‘Man, I really want that whole chicken drizzled in mango and lime sauce with a portion of chips and 2 extra sides of spicy rice, creamy mash followed by halloumi sticks with a dip and garlic peri-peri sauce to top it all off, but I’ve gone over my daily macros…’
Acronym for ‘If It Fits Your Macros’.
I.I.F.Y.M. is a term used to justify bad eating habits so long as eating the right amount of macronutrients aligns with one’s goal(s).
The general premise is you can eat whatever you want as long as it fits in with your macros (in either a % or per gram) normally without regard to essential vitamins and minerals (micronutrients).
Example: ‘Bro, you can totally eat that whole chicken drizzled in mango and lime sauce with a portion of chips and 2 extra sides of spicy rice, creamy mash followed by halloumi sticks with a dip and garlic peri-peri sauce. Ever heard of I.I.F.Y.M.?’
One Rep Max
Often abbreviated as ‘1RM’, it is the maximum amount of weight one can lift in a single rep on one particular exercise.
One rep max is frequently used as a vanity metric to display ones own strength who is comparatively lacking vigour in other areas.
It is also safe to assume that someone who throws this gym term around a lot is usually not telling the entire truth.
Example: ‘Yo, my 1RM on the bench is 200kg’ … ‘You’re full of shit bro’.
Also known as a French Press or Lying Tricep Extensions, the Skullcrusher is a dynamic tricep exercise where you lower a barbell (or dumbbells) from full extension above your head to within inches of your forehead.
You then extend your arms at the elbow ‘pressing’ the weights back up to complete the exercise.
Word of warning: if you get the exercise wrong, you’ll end up with a fatality akin to Sub-Zero using your head as a real-life basketball in Mortal Kombat.
The gradual increase in either volume, intensity or resistance placed on the body in order to increase size, strength and/or endurance.
In other words, to get bigger and stronger, one must continually ensure that the muscles are working harder than what they’re used to. More often than not, this means placing more stress on the body for growth.
Example: ‘Come on dude, you know you’re not gonna make anymore gains lifting those same weights. Start incorporating some progressive overload and you’ll fill out your sleeves in no time!’
The process of following a very strict diet and training regime in order to improve one’s physique over a given period of time with the end goal of competing on stage.
Example: ‘I’ll be prepping chicken, broccoli, brown rice and a quarter cup of water every day and will hit shoulders consistently for 4 months until I land on stage!’
The process of planning and preparing meals ahead of schedule to ensure one does not ‘cheat’ on their diet.
This normally includes bland foods/ingredients with little to no artificial preservatives or additives.
Example: ‘What you got there, Ben?’ … ‘Nothing much, I’ve just meal prepped some salmon, quinoa and asparagus to last me a week until I eat it all over again’ … ‘Sounds depressing as hell’ … ‘You have absolutely no idea.’
Mind Muscle Connection
In a nutshell, mind-muscle connection refers to the practice of being completely ‘mindful’ of the movement of an exercise.
This normally entails the intentional contraction of a single muscle (or groups of muscles) whilst under tension.
In other words,
A deliberate focus is placed not on moving a weight from point A to B, but rather, on contracting/squeezing the muscle(s) during the concentric (shortening) phase of the exercise and resisting the opposing force of the movement during the eccentric (lengthening) phase of the exercise.
Example: ‘Mate, the way you’re dumbbell curling right now will eventually rip your arm off! Start lifting with some mind-muscle connection by slowing it down, squeezing at the top briefly and gradually lowering the weight with control.’
Repetitions on an exercise where form/technique is forgone in place of being able to lift heavier weights/increase intensity when good technique was previously used.
Often times, you’ll find people using cheat reps as an excuse to lift heavier who simply cannot lift the chosen weight whether they wanted to use good form or not. This is commonly known as ‘ego lifting’ and shouldn’t be confused with cheat reps.
A classic example is someone doing barbell curls using momentum to get the weight back up relying on a swinging motion from the legs, lower back and shoulders.
Example: ‘I’ve hit failure, time to crank out a few cheat reps.’ *starts swinging barbell like a rogue crack addict with a spring collar shoved up his arse*
A training method that involves a partner (or spotter) to assist a lifter during an exercise past the point of muscular failure.
When failure has been reached, the training partner will support the lifter in ‘forcing’ out a few more reps in order to stimulate muscle growth and strength.
Example: ‘I failed on 8 reps, so my guy spotted me and helped me force out an additional 4 more reps… now I’m feeling boujee as hell!’
When someone (usually the biggest cunt at the gym) requests to use the same free weights or machine as you whilst your on your rest period.
This is normally requested from a person wanting to show-off their non-existent alpha status after being rejected 5x by their gym crush.
Example: ‘Can I work in with you? … ‘Sure, I’ll just go fuck myself why don’t I?’
Interval training is where you train at a low intensity for a period of time. This is then followed by performing high intensity over the same period.
Example: ‘Bro, what’s your secret to all that weight loss?’ … ‘A clean diet, interval training 3x a week and that hot russian I want to bang in the disabled toilets in the gym which will leave her disabled.’
Shorthand for ‘delayed onset muscle soreness’, DOMS refers to the aching/stiff feeling you get in your muscles after a strenuous workout.
This is usually felt between 24 – 72 hours after the initial workout and can often hinder your ability to move normally until the muscle(s) have fully recovered.
Example: ‘Mate, you were in the bathroom for ages!’ … ‘Sorry, I’ve got DOMS in my legs so it took me an ice age to sit and get back up from the toilet seat.’
A term used to indicate the visibility of one’s veins (or veininess) as a result of either excess blood being pumped throughout the body or low body fat.
Example: ‘I made it vein in the gym today after I crushed a set of curls, my arms were vascular as fuck!’
A term used to describe someone at the gym who is constantly checking out the gains of an individual (often until it becomes awkward and uncomfortable) whilst putting in little to no work of their own.
Example: ‘Yo dude, that guy on the inner/outer thigh machine has been dick gazing you for the past 20 minutes… maybe he’s ‘miring your tear drops on your legs?’
A training method that focuses on the eccentric (lowering/negative) phase of an exercise to induce more micro-tears and exert greater intensity on the muscle/tendons by slowing down the tempo of the exercise (usually between 3 – 5 seconds).
Example: ‘Time to start some negative reps on these bicep curls as I’m tired of my bicep looking like a shrivelled penis’.
A meal, but often times, a supplement which is taken 1 – 3 hours before a gym session intended to provide a boost of energy normally consisting of protein, caffeine and other ‘broscience’ ingredients with little to no scientific benefits.
Example: ‘What’s taking you so long? We’re late for the gym!’ … ‘Relax, I gotta get my pre-workout fix first otherwise I can’t lift jack.’
A supplement which is taken during strenuous exercise normally comprising of branched-chain amino acids (BCAAs) and other placebo/broscience ingredients to replenish essential nutrients and support endurance.
Example: ‘These sets are killing me. Time for my intra-workout to replenish my glycogen stores.’
A meal, but usually a supplement, taken within 30 minutes of completing a workout which includes a form of protein powder (whey/vegan alternative) and other broscience ingredients which are a complete waste of money.
Example: ‘I can’t wait for this session to be over! I’m in need of a huge post-workout!’
Refers to being ‘injured’ as a result of poor lifting technique, or excessive DOMS that has negatively impacted one’s day-to-day activities.
Example: ‘I can’t train today mate, I’m snapped up’ …. ‘We only did 30 sets on legs yesterday, quit being a whiny little cunt and be here in an hour!’
Common Gym Language – Translated
Now that you know what most slang words mean, it’s time to decode some of the most used gym phrases you’ll most likely encounter.
How many sets have you got left?
I’ve been waiting more than 15 minutes for you to wrap up so if I see you attempt one more set I’m going to drop this 25kg plate on your foot.
Do you need this 30kg?
You’ve clearly never lifted in your life so I’m just going to take it. Deal with it you waste of sperm.
Can I work/jump in?
I’ve got nothing else better to do in this empty gym than unracking your weights, giving unsolicited fitness advice and leaving my sweaty bullock stains everywhere.
You got this bro!
If it wasn’t for me supporting you, your brains would be splattered across this gym floor like a prawn.
I’m doing super sets
I don’t want to get too big or bulky
I have absolutely no idea about human anatomy and physiology.
I don’t work out much these days
I’ve been going to the gym twice a day, 6 days a week every week for the last year.
I’m not lifting heavy that much
I’ve never lifted heavy at all.
How much do you lift these days?
Fucking hell you’ve gotten small!
This exercise will help you get toned
I don’t know what the hell I’m talking about.
Okay, I’ll give it a try
What a load of nonsensical drivel.
Can you spot me?
You’re the only person in here who looks like they can handle this weight properly so can you help me out?
I haven’t seen you in a while!
I’ve been avoiding you every single session.
What are you working on today?
We’ve just made abrupt eye contact so I’m merely making small talk and pretending I care to avoid further awkwardness.
And there you have it.
A full list of unscrambled gym language and terms to save some of you the social discomfort next time you engage in conversation with a fellow lifter.
Rocking a big pair of headphones and pulling a mean face at everyone who makes eye contact with you also works like a charm to shun any social interaction.
What are your favourite gym slang terms?
Are there any we missed off?
Let us know in the comments section below!
Joseph is the Founder and Editor in Chief of CheckMeowt. When he is not sat at the computer guzzling down the nearest thing with protein in it, he can be found pulling up the world in the gym. Occasionally, he is best described as socially unreliable and easily distracte.