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Exercise & Fitness Glossary



Abdominals

Group of muscles in the front of the torso between the chest and pelvis.
Abductor

Hip muscle used to pull your legs apart.
AC

Alternating current: Power source where voltage changes magnitude and direction. Gym-quality equipment often uses AC instead of DC.
Adductor

Muscles in the inner thigh used to pull your legs together.
Aerobic

Long-term exercise that uses oxygen, carbohydrates, and fat for energy.
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Air resistance

Type of exercise bike that requires a user to pedal against air produced by a fan.
Anaerobic

Short-term, high-intensity exercise that uses carbohydrates for energy, but not oxygen.
Barbell

Weights attached to a long bar.
Belt

Moving track portion of a treadmill where a person runs, walks, or jogs.
Bench

Long seat or platform.
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Bicep

Muscle running along the inside of the upper arm.
Body fat

Percentage of body mass that's not composed of muscle, water, bones, or organs.
Body Mass Index (BMI)

Body weight to height ratio.
Burnout

Boredom with exercise.
Calorie

Amount of heat it takes to raise the temperature of one kilogram of water by one degree Celsius.
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Cardiovascular equipment

Exercise equipment designed to raise a person's heart rate with aerobic activity.
Computer-controlled resistance

Friction-free resistance adjustment on an exercise bike.
Conditioning equipment

Exercises that train your muscles to react a certain way. For example, yoga, pilates, and inversion machines.
Continuous duty horsepower

Maximum horsepower equipment can sustain over a long period of time.
Cool-down

Low-impact activity used to transition from high-impact exercise to the end of a workout.
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Cross-training

Training method that uses a variety of exercises to work different muscle groups.
Crossbar

Bar that a person can hold for support or balance while exercising.
Crutch

  Forked support on a bench that holds a barbell.
Current-limiting

Feature that prevents too much electrical current from running through equipment.
Cylinder-driven resistance

Cylinders use air or hydraulic fluid to provide resistance. You can adjust resistance by turning a knob.   
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DC

Direct Current: Power source where electricity flows in one direction.
Deck

Stationary platform on either side of a treadmill belt.
Declined bench

Simple bench set up at a declined angle.
Dehydration

Depletion of body fluids.
Deltoid

Three-part muscle group around the top of the shoulders.
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Dependent steps

Linked steps on a stepper or stair machine. When you step on one step, the other moves.
Dietary supplement

Pill or food that completes a person's daily nutritional requirements.
Direct tension

Method of adjusting resistance by manually turning a knob or adjusting a lever.
Drive train

Mechanical system that transfers power or torque from one place to another.
Dual action

Type of exercise bike that has movable arms.
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Dual direction

Elliptical machine that allows forward and backward motion.
Dumbbell

Weight attached to a short bar that can be lifted with one hand.
Electrolytes

Type of television that uses lenses and mirrors to magnify an image and project it onto the back of a translucent screen.
Elliptical machine

Cardiovascular exercise machine where users stand upright and create a gliding motion that mimics stepping, walking, and skiing.
Ergo handlebar

Handlebars shaped and positioned for comfort.
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Ergonomic

Designed to comfortably fit the human body.
Exercise ball

Inflatable ball that can support the weight of a body, often used to improve balance.
Exercise intensity

How hard a body works during physical activity.
Exercise mat

Mat made of a thin material that stays in one place on a floor without permanently attaching itself.
Flat bench

Simple horizontal bench, often with a crutch to support a barbell.
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Flexibility

Range of motion around a joint.
Flywheel

Wheel that stores energy and helps control speed in some fitness equipment.
Footprint

Amount of floor space a piece of exercise equipment takes up.
Free weights

Weights such as dumbbells and barbells that are not attached or tethered to a machine.
Glider

Type of dual action elliptical machine.
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Glutes

Three-part muscle group around the buttocks and hips.
Hamstring

Group of three muscles on the back of the thigh.
Heart rate

   Number of times a heart beats in a certain period of time.
Heart rate monitor

Device that measures heart rate.
High-impact

Actions that put a lot of force or strain on your body.
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Home gym

Exercise equipment that can have one or more station containing a seat or bench. A station can have resistance bands, a cable and pulley system used with a weight stack, or parallel bars.
Horsepower (HP)

Term coined by James Watt to describe power provided by a horse. Horsepower is measured at 33,000 foot-pounds of work per minute.
Inclined bench

Simple bench set up at an inclined angle.
Independent steps

Steps on a stepper or stair machine that are not attached to each other. When a person puts weight on one step the other step does not move.
Intermittent duty horsepower

Maximum horsepower a machine can sustain over a short period of time.
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Interval training

Workout where a person alternates between short periods of high-impact and low-impact exercise.
Inversion machine

Equipment that supports a person and allows them to move as they hang upside down or at an inverted angle.
Isometrics

Exercises that work opposing muscle groups to increase tone without shortening the muscles.
Low-impact

Exercise that does not put a lot of force or strain on your body.
Magnetic resistance

Computer-controlled change in resistance on cardiovascular equipment.
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Microfiber

Lightweight and breathable cloth made of polyester or nylon used in a lot of sports clothing.
Motor

Device that turns electrical energy into mechanical energy.
MPH

Miles Per Hour: Measurement of speed that indicates the distance a person can travel over the course of one hour.
Pacer

Equipment setting that allows you to set distance and time goals so that you can pace yourself or race against the clock.
Parallel bar dips

Equipment with two parallel bars that allow you to raise and lower yourself to work your chest and triceps.
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Peak performance horsepower

Maximum available horsepower.
Pedometer

Device that calculates how many steps a person takes.
Pilates

Exercise system developed by Joseph Pilates that uses controlled movement to improve muscle tone, flexibility, strength, and range of motion.
Preacher curl bench

Type of bench that has a raised arm support so you can work lower bicep muscles with free weights.
Quadriceps

Group of four muscles in the front of the thigh.
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Recovery heart rate

Amount of time it takes for your heart rate to return to where it was before you began a workout.
Recumbent bike

Type of exercise bike with a chair-like reclined seat.
Resistance

Opposing force.
Resistance band

Band with elasticity that creates resistance when stretched or pulled.
Resting heart rate

Number of times the heart beats while a person is at rest.
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Rower

Exercise equipment where a user rows as if on a boat.
Safety clip

Key attached to an exerciser's clothing and equipment. When it is pulled, the equipment stops to prevent injury to the exerciser.
Self-powered alternator

Feature that powers cardiovascular equipment without plugging into an external power source.
Shock absorber

Material designed to absorb or cushion impact.
Ski machine

Cardiovascular exercise machine that lets a user recreate a skiing motion.
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Spinning

Exercise class where people are instructed to use a stationary bike in a way that mimics outdoor cycling conditions.
Split-level console

Display used on some exercise equipment that has one area to adjust settings and a separate area to track progress during a workout.
Stair climber

Exercise equipment that allows a user to step in a climbing motion.
Stepper

Exercise equipment that allows a user to step in a walking motion or in a lateral motion.
Strength training

Exercises designed to increase muscle, build strength, and maintain bone mass.
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Target heart rate

Optimum heart rate for aerobic fitness determined by the American College of Sports Medicine.
Torque

Amount of twist required to set a piece of equipment into motion.
Total body workout

Exercise routine that works all of the body's major muscle groups at once.
Trampoline

Nylon web supported by springs on a metal frame.
Treadmill

Exercise equipment that requires a person to walk, jog, or run on a moving belt.
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Triceps

Muscles on the back of the upper arms.
Warm-up

Slow exercise at the beginning of a workout that raises your body temperature and prepare your heart and muscles for activity.
Watt

Measurement of the power output for a piece of equipment.
Weight lifting belt

Belt that provides lower-back support.
Weight plate

The actual weight at the end of a barbell, dumbbell, or in a stack on a home gym.
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Weight-bearing exercise

Exercise where you support or lift weight, such as running.
Yoga

Type of exercise that uses breathing, stretching, and strength-building poses to improve flexibility and strength, and promote relaxation.
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