Crack the Code: 8 Fitness Acronyms You Need To Know
Do you ever walk into the gym and feel like everyone is speaking in code? Believe me — there’s nothing the fitness set loves more than a good acronym.
And while it can be super useful to shorten things up (some of these can be a mouthful), it can also feel like you’re being left out of some cool, secret club when you’re on the outside.
So how do you tell your AMRAPs, from your HIITs, from your RPEs? What about your PRs and your EMOMs? And what the heck are DOMS?
Don’t stress, we’ve got you covered.
Check out some of the most common fitness acronyms you’re likely to hear around the gym, and start sounding like one of cool kids in no time.
Made popular with the emergence of CrossFit workouts, AMRAP stands for “As Many Reps As Possible”. Here it’s all about beating the clock — your goal is to do as many reps or rounds of exercises as possible in a set amount of time.
AMRAP workouts offer endless possibilities. You can adapt almost any exercise (or series of exercises) to be used for this type of training. And if competition gets you hyped during a workout, AMRAP training is for you — your opponent is always there and ready to go: yourself.
Ready to give it a go? Try this circuit to get started. Perform 10 squats, 10 push-ups, and 10 renegade rows (per arm), for as many rounds as possible, in 5 minutes. After giving yourself time to recover, run through the entire circuit again and see if you can beat your previous score.
RM stands for “Rep Max”. But instead of a training style, RM is concerned with the amount of weight you’re able to lift. Essentially, your RM is the largest load you can lift, for a given number of reps, on a given exercise.
Here’s how it works. Let’s say you’re trying to find your RM for a back squat. You start with 175 lbs, and you perform a rep with no problem. So you add 5 lbs to the bar to see how it feels (again, no problem). You continue adding weight for one rep until you find you can’t perform any more reps with good form. For instance, maybe you managed to do 195, but by 200 you were tanked. That means your 1RM for a back squat is 195 lbs.
Many times, you’ll see workouts written that are based on RM. For example, your workout might tell you to perform eight squats at 75% of 1RM. Because you already know your 1RM is 195 lbs, you know that the workout is asking you to perform those eight reps at 146.25 lbs (you’ll just want to round up or down, as necessary).
Here’s another one that has become popular thanks to the CrossFit Universe. EMOM is a type of interval workout that stands for “Every Minute on the Minute”.
But unlike AMRAPs, which try to cram as many reps as possible into a certain period of time, EMOM workouts focus on performing a set number of reps at the top of every minute. And what do you do with all that left-over time? Rest until your next minute starts.
EMOM workouts are all about pacing — your goal is to balance your effort during the “work” phase with the recovery period at the end. And this can be used to increase strength and skill development, as well as to jack-up your heart rate. For example, you might do five deadlifts at 80% of 1RM, EMOM, for 10 minutes.
PRs are the one you’re always chasing, and for good reason. That’s because PR refers to “Personal Record”. PRs are one of the best tools for measuring progress and they can be used for any type of exercise, from running a mile, to burpees, to bench press.
But it’s important to remember that new PRs don’t happen without a ton of hard work — especially the longer you’ve been on your fitness journey.
For instance, if you’re new to weight lifting, it’s not uncommon to set a new PR for an exercise every few weeks.
But while this should definitely motivate you to keep going, don’t expect that streak to last as time goes on. The longer (and heavier) you lift, the more work it's going to take to set a new PR — which makes it that much sweeter when it finally happens.
If you’ve spent any time at the gym, chances are you’ve heard people talking about HIIT workouts. HIIT means “High-Intensity Interval Training”, and it's definitely all the rage these days.
HIIT workouts combine periods of intense effort, just like the name suggests, with periods of lower-intensity recovery or rest. And they can be super effective for cardiovascular endurance and fat burning, without having to spend hours on a treadmill. HIIT workouts typically last 10-30 minutes — and believe me, if you’re doing it right, that’s all your body is going to need.
The workouts we’ve already talked about, AMRAP and EMOM, can be examples of HIIT workouts, as well as other workout interval-based workout styles like Tabata, 1 minute/1 minute, and many more. The important thing to remember is that the intensity level during the work phases needs to be as high as possible to reap the benefits of this workout style.
RPE, which stands for “Rate of Perceived Exertion”, is a tool used to measure the intensity of any exercise or activity you’re performing.
Measured on a scale of 1-10 — 1 being your everyday activities, 10 being max effort, like an all-out sprint —RPE is a great way to check in with your body and make sure that the effort you're using is keeping your training aligned with your goals.
But don’t get trapped by the idea that you have to be working at levels 8-10 to get results. While HIIT style workouts might require high exertion levels, exercises like strength training and lower-intensity activities (like walking), get more bang for your buck at lower RPE levels.
You leave the gym after a killer leg session feeling great — only to find that you can’t get up and down the stairs two days later. DOMS strikes again.
“Delayed-Onset Muscle Soreness”, aka DOMS, is the delayed soreness and stiffness that sets in from lactic acid build-up after stressing muscle tissue. And while it can occur as early as 6-8 hours after a workout (particularly for workout newbies), it typically sets in about 24-48 hours afterwards — and peaks around that 48 hour mark.
Unfortunately, DOMS are just one of those realities of workout life, but there are steps you can take to improve matters. NSAID medications (like ibuprofen), stretching, and massage may help improve your symptoms.
But the best thing you can do? Keep moving! Even though you might not feel like it, simple exercises, like walking or riding a bike, can help to flush that lactic acid out of your muscles more quickly — meaning you’ll be ready for another leg day before you know it.
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