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Gym Slang Defined
(Part 1 of 2)

Gym Slang
What does it all mean?

When you join a gym, you’re entering a place with unwritten rules and a strange language. To help you better navigate those first few weeks, here’s what some of that slang means.

Newbie is what people call you when you first join a gym. Everybody was a newbie at some point. The best way to get past this phase is to keep going back. After a few months, you won’t be a newbie anymore.

Resolutionaries are people that start going to the gym right after New Year’s, but only stay for about a month. Gyms count on these people because many will buy a year's membership but only use it for a few days.

Rep is short for repetition. Each rep is one lift or complete exercise movement. You may do as few as 2-5 reps when building strength, all the way up to 15 or 20 reps if you’re working on endurance.

Set refers to the number of reps you do in a row before stopping. A typical program will have you complete between 2-4 sets of a particular exercise before moving on.

Machine Hogs are people who stay on a single piece of equipment without moving. There are other people who want to workout. In-between sets, get off the machine so someone else can use it.

Machine Stalkers hang around waiting for someone to get off a machine, without asking or saying anything. Speak up. If someone is on a machine you want to use, ask if you can work in. That means you want to do a set when they’re in-between their sets.

When someone asks you to work in, there are only a couple of acceptable responses. Say SURE and get off the machine when you finish a set so they can use it. If you’re working out with someone else, say SURE and let the person asking know you have a partner, and how many sets the two of you have left.

Spotting someone means be ready to help during a lift. When you’re lifting a particularly heavy weight, you might not have the strength to complete all the reps. A spotter will stand somewhere they can help to move the weight out of harm's way. When someone asks you to be a spotter, as long as you’re physically able to help, you should do it.

Cardio Bunnies are people who spend their entire time at the gym on cardio equipment. They never lift a weight. Remember that cardio is great to improve the cardiovascular system, but it doesn’t build muscle. Both weight training and cardio together are needed to build a balanced body.

Cheat Reps (sometimes called Cheap Reps) are exercise movements using improper form. Utilizing different muscles or swinging the body or weights can help you complete the movement, but it puts you at much greater risk of injury. If you can’t do it right, either decrease the weight or the number of reps and maintain good form. 

Pies or plates are the 45-pound plates used on barbells. Some people refer to them as “papa bears” or “big wheels.” The smaller plates are given monetary names. 25 pounds is a quarter, 10 pounds is a dime and the 5-pound plates are called nickels.

Mirror Muscles are the ones you see when looking into a mirror. That typically means chest (pecs) and biceps (bi’s). People who only work mirror muscles often have under-developed backs and legs. Over-development in one area can lead to injury.

Bro-Science is “wisdom” shared by fellow gym-goers. It’s information passed down from one person to the next, often with little or no basis in fact. Some people refer to it as “word of mouth knowledge.” When someone tells you to take a specific vitamin, supplement or follow a particular program, ask where the information came from. Rely on information from certified professionals, not gym floor gossip.

Speaking of vitamins, if you’re asked about “Vitamin S,” steer clear. It’s slang for anabolic steroids. You may also hear it referred to as “juice” or “gym candy.”

PR or PB is short for “Personal Record” or “Personal Best.” When you finish your workout and compare it to previous ones, a PR is when you beat what you’ve done before. It might mean the fastest time, the most weight lifted or the most reps completed.

You can get a good workout in without knowing all this. But knowing it will hopefully clear up a little of the confusion you might experience when you get started.

Part 1 2

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Updated 12/25/2018