Our handy glossary explains the meaning of common health and fitness terms.
Body Mass Index (BMI)
Body Mass Index, often abbreviated as BMI, is a method for determining whether an individual is in a healthy weight range for their height.
For more information, see our handy guide and BMI calculator.
Calisthenics is a type of exercise that is performed with little or no equipment, primarily making use of the participant’s own bodyweight for resistance.
Common bodyweight exercises, such as push-ups, pull-ups, chin-ups and dips are all classified as calisthenics exercises.
Calorie / calories
Calories are units of energy. They are an indication of how much energy an individual will get from consuming a particular food or drink.
In Australia, we use a different measurement for this: kilojoules.
Even though calories are not the standard measure in Australia, the terms are often used interchangeably in conversation. This is due to the use of calories as the standard measure in countries such as the United States of America.
Compound exercises involve multiple joints and work more than one muscle group.
Common examples of compound exercises include:
- push-ups; and
Free weights are a type of weight training equipment that is supported entirely by the participant during each repetition of an exercise.
The weight may be racked (put on hooks, rails or handles) between sets, but during each repetition the participant is supporting and stabilising that weight.
Examples of free weights include: barbells; dumbbells; and kettlebells.
Functional training / functional fitness
Functional training is a form of exercise that involves training the body for activities performed in daily life.
Functional training aims to improve a person’s ability to perform common activities, such as carrying bags of groceries or getting up from a seat.
Hypertrophy / muscle hypertrophy
Hypertrophy refers to an organ or tissue increasing in size, due to enlargement of its component cells.
In relation to resistance training and fitness more generally, it is muscle hypertrophy that is of particular interest. Muscle hypertrophy refers to skeletal muscle increasing in size.
Isolation exercises involve a single joint and aim to target one muscle group.
Common examples of isolation exercises include:
- bicep curls;
- tricep extensions; and
- leg curls.
Kilojoule / kilojoules
Kilojoules are units of energy. They are an indication of how much energy an individual will get from consuming a particular food or drink. For example, on the packet of a protein bar the kilojoules will be listed in the nutritional information table.
In Australia, the measurement that we use is kilojoules. Some countries, such as the United States of America, use a different measure: calories. The terms are often used interchangeably in conversation, even though calories are not the standard measure in Australia.
Muscular endurance is the ability to repeat or sustain exercise repetitions over a period of time.
Muscular strength / strength
Muscular strength is the amount of force that a muscle or group of muscles can generate in a single maximal effort.
Muscular strength is often measured as a one repetition maximum.
One repetition maximum / one rep max / 1RM
One repetition maximum refers to the maximum amount of resistance (usually measured as weight) that an individual can generate sufficient force against in order to successfully complete one repetition of an exercise.
For example, an individual may be able to bench press a maximum of 100 kilograms for one repetition, but no more than that. That would make 100 kilograms their current one repetition maximum.
One repetition maximum is a commonly used measure of muscular strength.
Pronation / pronate / pronated
The term pronation can be used in reference to the forearms or feet; however, it’s most commonly used in reference to the forearms.
Pronation occurs when the forearm and palm are rotated inwards. Pronation of the foot refers to turning of the sole outwards, with the weight of the body borne by the medial (inside) part of the foot.
Using the standard anatomical position, pronation of the forearm is when the palm of the hand is rotated inwards, to face posteriorly (to the back).
In reference to weightlifting and calisthenics, a pronated grip is often referred to as an ‘overhand grip’.
Example sentences using the term:
- Bench presses are generally performed using a pronated grip.
- Pull-ups are generally performed using a pronated grip.
Resistance training is a form of exercise that requires muscles to overcome a resistive force, such as a heavy weight, in order to complete one or more repetitions.
Standard anatomical position
The standard anatomical position defines a fixed position for the human body, including the upper and lower limbs. It is used as a standard reference point for human anatomy.
The standard anatomical position is an important baseline reference in fields such as medicine and sports science, as practitioners can refer to a specific area of the human body, without needing to also explain the position of the body.
The standard anatomical position for the body is standing upright and facing forward (towards the observer), with arms to the side of the body and palms facing forward.
Image credit: Osteomyoamare, Wikimedia Commons.
Supination / supinate / supinated
The term supination can be used in reference to the forearms or feet; however, it’s most commonly used in reference to the forearms.
Supination occurs when the forearm and palm are rotated outwards. Supination of the foot refers to turning of the sole inwards, with the weight of the body borne by the lateral (outside) edge of the foot.
Using the standard anatomical position, supination of the forearm is when the palm of the hand is facing anteriorly (to the front). The standard anatomical position has the forearms supinated.
In reference to weightlifting and calisthenics, a supinated grip is often referred to as an ‘underhand grip’.
Example sentences using the term:
- Chin-ups are generally performed using a supinated grip.
- Bicep curls generally involve supination of the forearm; however, hammer curls do not.
Weight machines / cable machines
Weight machines are a type of weight training equipment. They typically use weight stacks with a cable and pulley system.
Unlike free weights, when using a weight machine, the exercise participant is not required to wholly support the stability of the weight throughout each repetition. This means that stabiliser muscles are not required to work as much when using a weight machine. It also means that the same type of exercise will usually be easier on a weight machine than it would be using free weights.
For example, an overhead shoulder press will typically be much easier to perform using a shoulder press machine than it would be using a dumbbell of the same weight (that is, the same as the weight selected on the shoulder press machine).
Weight training is a form of strength training that uses weight as a resisting force that muscles need to overcome when performing exercises.