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Reps, Sets, and Intervals: Your complete weight lifting glossary

BY: Torra Wolf

The Most Common Weightlifting Terms (in alphabetical order)

1RM: “1 Rep Max”: This is the heaviest weight that you can lift for a certain exercise. This can be determined by continually adding weight to the bar until you can no longer perform one rep. Make sure to properly warm-up if attempting a one-rep max.

Circuit: A group of 3 or more exercises brought together for the purpose of continual work and no break until all given sets are complete. These are typically bodyweight exercises, however, can be applied to weightlifting as well. A lower body circuit could include 3 sets of 10 leg press, 10 jump squats, 5 suicides, and 10 weighted calf raises.

Contraction: When a muscle is contracted, it’s engaged in the particular exercise. Contracting your glutes on the up phase of a back squat allows for those muscles to do the work needed to stand.

“Max out”: Lifting the highest weight for the given exercise. If I would like to max out in my back squat, I want to squat as heavy as I can till fail.

Rep: (aka Repetition) This is the full range of motion that you will perform to complete an exercise. In a bicep curl the full motion is when the elbow reaches full flexion until returned to the bottom again. Successful lifters will only count a rep if performed properly.

Resistance: The amount of weight that you are lifting. The dumbbell in bicep curls is your resistance.

Sets: A group of reps. It is important to know 3 x 10 squats mean there is 3 sets of 10 reps. So you would perform 10 squats, take the given rest, and repeat that 3 times.

Spotter: This is a designated person you have to help if the weight becomes to heavy and you can’t return it to its starting position. For example, if I want to max out on my bench press, then I would want my spotter to help in case the weight is too heavy to return. They are there to help you prevent injury.

Supersets: These are two workouts performed back to back after each set with no rest. These two workouts could target the same muscle group, or opposing muscle groups, just depends are you goal in that days workout.

Tempo: Is the given time you set for the up and down phase. This could be 1-2 for a bicep curl, meaning that I would want to take 1 second up and 2 seconds down. This allows for more control and tension on specific muscles.

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