The A-Z Of Fitness Guide!


Fitness trainers not only ‘walk-the-walk’ but ‘talk-the-talk’ too! For non-pros though, some training terms can sound like a whole different language.

To help cut through the gym jargon here's an A-Z of fitness. 

A     AMRAP workout

AMRAP stands for ‘as many rounds as possible’ and in an AMRAP-style workout you try to complete as many rounds (or sets) of a particular circuit exercise as you can, within a certain timeframe.


Divide your weight in kilograms by your height in m² to get your BMI or Body Mass Index. It’s used to determine if you’re in a healthy weight range for your height and works for about 90% of people.

C             Cardio

Cardio exercise gives your heart and lungs a work out, not just your muscles. An Adelaide Aquatic Centre gym membership gets you access to a bunch of cardio-based fitness classes.

D            Drop sets

This is a technique where you repeat the same exercise, reducing the weight each time your body hits the point where it’s had enough! For example, you might start with a 20kg weight, then cut down to 15kg when you can’t do 20 anymore, then go down to 10 kg then 5kg - and so on.

E             Energy in/Energy out

You can’t out-train a bad diet! You must feed your body well when you’re exercising and then make sure you expend all the energy you put into it - otherwise you won’t see improvements.

F             Fartlek 

Fartlek means ‘speed play’ in Swedish. It’s a fitness method that integrates continuous and interval exercise. A Fartlek session on a treadmill could see you move from high intensity to slow intensity, then play around with hills and pace. It trains your body to switch gears.

G            GAS

Been doing the same exercises for a long time and not seeing any improvement? Your body may have adjusted and experiencing General Adaptation Syndrome.  To avoid GAS, either vary the type of training you’re doing or strive for failure (ie: keep going until you just can’t do another push-up!)

H            H.I.I.T.

High-intensity interval training calls for quick, intense bursts of exercise, followed by short recovery periods. The aim is to get your heart rate up, keep it there and burn more fat in less time.

I              Intensity or intervals 

Intensity relates to how hard or fast you’re pushing yourself during exercise. Intervals are the duration of an exercise or the time in between different actions.

J              Jack knife 

This is a type of abdominal exercise. To do a jack knife on a fit-ball, you’d take your knees towards your chest while you have your hands on the ground. If you’re on a TRX you’d hold your hips up high.  

K             kJ vs calories

Food energy was once measured in calories but in Australia we use the kilojoule these days. It can be confusing when you see and hear both terms used so it’s good to know the basic conversion: there are 4.184 (round that out to 4.2) kilojoules in one calorie.

Millie Walker, Master Trainer and Yoga Instructor at the Adelaide Aquatic Centre, sheds a little light on some of the terms you might hear at the gym, from a trainer or during an exercise class.

L             LSD training

If your goal is to build up endurance over speed, you’ll benefit from Long Slow Duration training. This is about going for distance or what they refer to in ‘the biz’ as ‘k’s on legs’.

M           Metafit

A High Intensity Interval Training (H.I.I.T.) style class focused on boosting fitness, increasing energy levels and fast results. It suits all fitness levels but is a tough work out - best done when injury free. Try Metafit and other H.I.I.T. classes at the Adelaide Aquatic Centre gym.

N            Negative split

This is where you complete the second half of a race faster than the first. If you’re a jogger pushing for a negative split on a 10k run, you do the last 5k’s quicker than the first 5 by taking it home strong.

O            Olympic lift/distance

Watched any Olympic level weightlifting? Then you’d have heard of the ‘clean and jerk’ and the ‘snatch’. Both are Olympic-style lifts with big overhead thrusting movements. Olympic distance is what’s covered in an Olympics triathlon: 1.5km swim, a 40km bike ride and 10km run.

P             Plyometrics

Also known as ‘jump training’, these are exercises that require a thrust of power - where the muscles exert maximum force in short intervals of time. Examples include burpees and jump squats.

Q            Quads

Short for quadriceps, quads are the large muscle group found on the front of our thighs, consisting of four distinct muscles each.

R             Reps

A quick way of saying ‘repetitions’- which are the number of times you repeat a particular exercise.

S             Sets

Sets refer to how many times you’ll do each ‘rep’. More sets can work for building endurance; less sets for strength building.  

T              Tabata 

Another H.I.I.T style, Tabata was developed in the ‘90s by a Japanese professor to train Olympic speed skaters. The system goes like this: 20 seconds of work, followed by 10 seconds of rest, in eight rounds. If you’re at the gym you could use this method on a treadmill or with push-ups.

U            Ultramarathon 

Refers to any long distance run over the standard marathon distance of 42.2km.

V            VO2 max

A measure of the maximum volume of oxygen a person can consume while exercising. It helps determine aerobic or cardio vascular fitness and how efficiently your body is at using oxygen.

W           WHR – waist to hip ratio

Calculated by measuring your waist circumference in relation to your hip circumference, this ratio estimates the fat distribution in your body and is often used to assess weight-related medical risks.

X             Xtrainer

Also known as a ‘cross-trainer’, this piece of gym equipment requires you to use your arms and legs in a cross country skiing motion. Plenty of these at the Adelaide Aquatic Centre!

Y             Yoga

A personal favourite, the ancient practice of yoga promotes physical health and mental wellbeing through techniques including postures, movement, breathing exercises and meditation.  Today there are even hybrid yoga classes, like Yoga-lates: combining yoga and Pilates principles.

Z             Zatopek phenomenon

Named after a Czech middle distance Olympic champ, this describes the beneficial effects of tapering - where you reduce the amount and intensity of your training to prepare for an event or rest period.


Want to practice some plyometrics or try a Yoga-lates class for yourself? Look into Adelaide Aquatic Centre gym and pool membership – you’ll be talking like a pro in no time.