Ok, you want me to perform four sets of 12 reps and superset these two exercises, then do a drop set on my next three exercises? Wait, what?
Does this ever happen to you? All the bodybuilding and workout jargon leave you confused and almost frustrated that you just want to walk out on your workout?
Hopefully, after reading this article, you’ll have a better understanding as to what you’re reading prior to your next training session.
Let’s start with the basic terminology – exercise, reps and sets.
Exercise: When you’re reading a workout routine you found online or in a magazine, the first thing you’ll probably see is the exercise, which is what you will be performing in your workout. For example: squat, overhead press, bench press, tricep kickback, etc.
Reps (Repetitions): Reps are the amount of times you will lift and lower the weight of an exercise. For example: you pick up a dumbbell and lift and lower it 12 times for a bicep curl exercise. Each time you’ve lifted and lowered the dumbbell this counts as one full rep, so doing it 12 times you’ve completed 12 reps.
Sets: Sets are a group of reps. The 12 reps you just did for bicep curls? That was one set. This is when you take a 30-second or 1-minute rest. You pick your weight up and do another 12 reps – there’s your second set!
Are you still with me? Good, because I’m moving on to something a little more confusing.
Other Workout Jargon That You’ll Likely Want to Know
You’ve probably heard of terms such as superset, failure, drop sets, forced reps, partial reps, giant sets, and even 21s. But what does it all mean?!
Let me break it down for you:
Superset: A superset is a combination of one exercise performed right after another with no rest in between.
Failure: Failure is literally when you do reps of an exercise until you physically cannot perform to a fully contracted position.
Drop sets: Drop sets are sets where the weight is decreased in each following set in a group of sets. For example, you can decrease the weight and increase the number of reps or decrease the weight and keep the number of reps the same. Drop sets can also be referred to as reverse pyramid sets because you begin with the heaviest weight and reduce it.
Forced Reps: When performing forced reps you need a spotter, which is someone to guide you while you perform an exercise. When doing a forced rep your muscles are fatigued and it can become unsafe. You perform a forced rep after doing your normal repetitions. Usually two to three reps with the help of a spotter are added on to your set.
Partial Reps: Partial reps are reps that are done in a particular range of motion (ROM). Partials are usually done toward the end of your regular set and can sometimes be more effective than full-range reps. Partials help build strength and really burn out the muscle.
Giant Sets: Giant sets are great for people looking to burn extra body fat in a shorter period of time. They usually consist of four sets of four different exercises that work the same muscle group with very little rest in between. At the end of a giant set, rest for a minute or two.
21s: 21s is when you perform an exercise with three different ROMs for 7 reps within the same set for a muscle. For example, it’d be 7 reps at the bottom of the ROM, 7 reps at the top of the ROM, and 7 reps for the full ROM.
Give yourself a pat on the back; you’re now more knowledgeable with workout jargon. You should be able to easily read and understand a workout log from magazines or a workout journal. Congratulations!