51 Health and Fitness Terms for Beginners


Individuals who are new to the fitness world should become familiar with commonly used fitness terms or things can become pretty confusing when speaking to personal trainers or other fitness professionals. These terms are even used in fitness magazines and by instructors in DVD workouts. By studying the following list, you can become more familiar with these terms and help your fitness journey to become easier.

  • Aerobic: Any exercise that is utilized to help improve the body’s cardiovascular system. A good example of an aerobic exercise is running on a treadmill.
  • Anaerobic: An exercise designed to trigger the release of lactic acid in the muscles. Bodybuilders utilize these types of exercises in order to gain mass.
  • Metabolism: A term that is used to describe the chemical reactions responsible for maintaining the living state of the organism. The amount of energy your body requires in order to maintain all of its functions.
  • Basal metabolic rate: A basal metabolic rate (BMR) is the amount of energy your body must expend in order to maintain all of its functions while the body is at rest. The BMR is often referred to as just ‘metabolism’.
  • Body composition: Body composition is the actual percentage of fat, muscle, water and bone in the human body. Because lean muscle tissue takes up much less space than bulky fat, your weight, combined with your body composition, is used to determine if you are within a healthy body weight range.
  • Cardiorespiratory: Cardiorespiratory references any action that affects both the lungs and heart; specifically, the ability of the respiratory and circulatory systems to provide oxygen to muscles during physical activity.
  • Cardio Endurance: This is the most important aspect of physical fitness. Cardio endurance is a measurement to determine the strength of the heart and its ability to sustain the body throughout various physical activities. Cardio endurance is often referred to as ‘stamina’.
  • Cardiovascular: Cardiovascular refers to any part of the circulatory system, mainly the heart, and its ability to transport blood efficiently through the body. Cardiovascular exercises help to build the endurance of the heart muscle.
  • Fat-free mass: This is the measurement of your entire body mass, minus the fat. It includes skin, tendons, bones, muscle and organs. Having high levels of fat-free mass generally means you are in good physical condition. However, fat is pertinent for the body to function correctly, and an extremely high fat-free mass reading may indicate a health problem.
  • Frequency: In the physical fitness world, frequency means how often you perform a workout or exercise.
  • Glycogen: This is a stored form of a sugar called glucose. When the body produces excessive amounts of glucose that cannot be used immediately for energy, it is stored in the liver. This substance is now called glycogen. When blood sugar levels begin to fall, the liver will release the stored glycogen to bring the levels back up to a normal reading.
  • Heart rate: A heart rate refers to the amount of time your heart beats in 1 minute.
    A normal resting heart rate for a healthy adult ranges from 60 to 100 beats a minute. Generally, a lower resting heart rate at rest implies more efficient heart function and better cardiovascular fitness.
  • Interval Training: Interval training is a method of exercise that combines short bursts of high intensity cardiovascular exercises with medial periods of lower intensity ones. The purpose of interval training is to burn the highest amount of calories in the shortest amount of time and build cardiovascular endurance.
  • Isotonic: Isotonic is a term used to describe an exercise where the muscle has to work against a static (set) resistance through the entire range of motion. A good example of this is bicep curls or chest presses.
  • Lactate: Blood lactation occurs when oxygen delivery to the muscle tissue is insufficient to sustain its metabolic demand, usually because of vigorous exercise. This can lead to a condition known as lactic acidosis, which can cause vomiting, anxiety and irregular heart rate.