FitnessFridays: Getting Started, Part I

It’s been a few weeks, but here we are at another Friday post. Well, Fridays did not stop, but by my posting did…

So anyway, something I get told (not like I am flooded with e-mails; read like: told by family members and a couple of friends) is:

 I want to start working out…but I feel lost in the gym.  

So, I get all geeked out and excited and tell them what they should do in the gym. and then sometimes I lose them with words like ‘sets’ and ‘reps’ and ‘drop sets’ and ‘super sets’ and ‘active rest’ and all the really cool gym words.

That’s not even all the exercise names that, to me, are basically ingrained in my brain. But to other people, when I talk about gym stuff, it’s like when people talk to me about accounting or taxes or Excel spreadsheets. (I mean really… all the advances we have made and Excel is still hard as freak to figure out.)

So I thought, hey! Why not do a little cheat sheet of some common gym words!

Working Out Words

Reps–  Short for repetitions. It is the number of times to preform an exercise. If you squat 12 times, then stop, you have preformed 12 reps of squats.

Sets– Refers to how many times you repeat the exercise for the number of repetitions (reps)So, if you squat 12 times, rest, squat 12 times, rest ,squat 12 times, rest, then you have just completed three sets of squats with 12 reps each. Oftentimes it can be written as: 3×12 (3 sets, 12 reps each).

Drop Set– (or a reverse pyramid) set is when the weight is decreased in each set after failure is achieved.

So, for example, you may do drop sets on cable tricep extensions. The first set you do 15 reps at 20 lbs, the second set 12 reps at 15 lbs, then 10 reps at 10lbs. You do not rest in between sets but quickly drop the weight and move into the next set. Drop sets are often done on a machine because it is fast and easy to adjust the weight.

To Failure– When an exercise is done to failure it means you have done the maximum amount of reps possible. If you were doing bicep curls to failure you would stop when you could not preform another bicep curl with correct form.

Super Set– When you preform two exercises back-to back-with no rest. There are usually two ways super sets are implemented:

  1. Two exercises for the same muscle group. (Ex: Dumbbell bicep curls followed by cable bicep curls)
  2. Two exercises with different muscle groups. (EX: Dumbbell bicep curls followed by Tricep Kick Backs)

Cardio– A term often used for cardiovascular exercise. According to the American College of Sports Medicine, cardio, or cardiovascular exercise, is any activity that increases heart rate and respiration while using large muscle groups repetitively and rhythmically. (Ex: running, biking, swimming, sprints, etc.)

Rest– When you are not moving. You are trying to get your breathing under control and your heart rate should be slowing back down to normal.

Active rest– When you are engaged in a low intensity activity. You want do not want your heart rate to go back to normal.

For example: sprint 30 seconds, then run 30 seconds, then sprint 30 seconds, then run 30 seconds. The running for 30 seconds would be an active rest period. Your heart rate should still be elevated slightly but you should feel “comfortable” by the end of your active rest period.

Another example: burpees, squats, burpees, squats. Your burpees would be your cardio and your squats would be your active rest. During squats you aren’t winded but you aren’t in a rest state either.


So there you go. Now you to can sound like a gym pro! (A professional gym-goer, that is.)

Next week the sister and I will be posting our thoughts on the Fitbit Charge HR.

After that I plan on posting an exercise weight room cheat sheet of sorts. Anything you want to see on that post? Let me know and I will add it!


Please note I am not an expert on these terms (or anything for that matter.) If you wish to add or argue anything please do so kindly.

3 thoughts on “FitnessFridays: Getting Started, Part I

  1. Pingback: FitnessFridays: Getting Started, Part 2 (Lift the Weights) | Musings of the Average Millennial

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