Beginning your fitness journey is like starting a new role after a career change and sitting in that first meeting where everybody uses words and phrases around you that make perfect sense to everybody but you.
Whilst at first it can be intimidating for a tutorial to talk about ‘engaging your lats’ and ‘making sure you have a spotter’, whilst you sit there with a dictionary open trying to keep up. If you give it time, it does all begin to make sense.
Just remember that nobody is trying to catch you out and most people in the industry are more than happy to offer help and advice, despite the commonly held perception that the industry is a closed shop for newcomers…or indeed “noobs”.
To get you started, here are five commonly used terms that you’ll certainly hear as you read more about the subject.
1. “Reps” and “Sets”
You’ll hear this everywhere from YouTube exercise tutorials through to commercial gyms around the world and it’s a staple of any weight training conversation.
Put simply, in resistance training, every exercise involves repetitive movements that are designed to stress the muscle and stimulate its growth. One individual movement (normally in both direction) is a “rep” which is short for “repetition”.
You would typically perform a number of reps tailored to your goals before taking a short rest before doing it again. Each time you begin your reps after a break, you’re starting a new “set”.
So, if you’re performing bicep curls and the plan suggests three sets of 10 reps, you’ll be doing the following:
Set 1: 10 x bicep curls
Set 2: 10 x bicep curls
Set 3: 10 x bicep curls
And then you’ll try to drink some water and find that your arms have turned to jelly. You’ll come to love this feeling.
Short for “macronutrients”. Nutrition is essential for complementing any exercise programme and understanding macronutrients can be invaluable for learning what works for you.
There are three key macronutrients that the body uses; protein, carbohydrates, and fats. Without going into too much detail, you should always start with your protein needs and the other two should be balanced to fit your goals.
Actually not a bad thing you’ll be surprised to discover. Whilst “working out to failure” sounds like you ended up inhaling a block of chocolate immediately after your home gym session, that’s not what the word means in an exercise setting.
Failure is the point at which your muscle simply cannot continue to perform the movement you want it to do. Reaching failure during your sets (remember what they were?) means you’re pushing your muscles to a point that small tears in the muscle fibre occurs and growth is stimulated.
Training to failure isn’t always right for you but this does depend on your goals. If it is something recommended to you, make sure you’re pushing yourself hard, and not raiding the fridge between sets. That’s the wrong “failure”.
An acronym for Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness. After approx 24-48 hours after training a muscle group, you’ll feel sore and your body will be telling you that you’ve pushed it enough that it may consider building some more muscle. You’ll hear people in fitness circles talking about soreness, but this is llikely to be accompanied by an acknoweldgement of them trying a new movement or getting back into training after a break.
DOMS does get less and less noticable the more you exercise so it’s one of those things you’ll have to manage through for a while, but don’t let it put you off!
Bear in mind that a lack of soreness doesn’t mean you didn’t train hard enough and equally soreness doesn’t always mean you had a great session (but it’s something of a indicator).
Now get out there and do some some sets to failure, eat a great source of protein and balance your macros before waking up the following days with DOMS.