This article, rather than the previous ones, is not a part of the “How To Design Your Own Workout Routine” Series. It is intended to be a glossary in regards to basic Fitness Terminology, with brief explanations of the most common terms used when discussing training. Because of the sheer amount of terms this will have to be a new series split up into multiple parts, with this being part 1.
First, I’d like to clarify what I mean by “Basic Fitness Glossary” and why I decided to write an article about this topic.
After having received some feedback from family and friends in regards to my most recent articles I’ve realized that they may contain a number of “fitness”-specific terms which don’t necessarily make sense to a beginner, who has never read about or researched the topic.
So I’ve come to the conclusion that some clarification is needed.
Let’s start with the basics.
Part 1 – What Is Fitness?
Google defines Fitness as the following:
“The condition of being physically fit and healthy.”
In the context of these articles however, this is only partially applicable.
Of course, becoming “physically fit and healthy” is important. However, this should be a mere consequence of pursuing the goal of becoming a bigger, stronger, faster and overall better version of yourself!
And thus, the term “Fitness” in the context of my articles means the overall actions undertaken in order to become this bigger, stronger, faster and overall better version of yourself (mainly physically, but as a consequence of this perhaps mentally as well). This includes strength training techniques used in Bodybuilding, Powerlifting and Calisthenics as well as cardiovascular exercise and nutrition.
Whilst you can achieve Fitness in a broader sense through all sorts of physical activity, we will use the definition above in the context of these articles.
Part 1.1 – What Is Bodybuilding?
The definition of Bodybuilding can be approached in an easy and in a difficult way.
The easy way is to just state that it is one’s ambition to – quite literally – “build” one’s own body, that is to get as close to achieving maximal muscular development in terms of size and proportion by the means of strength and resistance training as well as diet and supplementation.
Whilst this is certainly true it leaves room for interpretation.
What Bodybuilders are judged by in official competitions is their overall level of muscular development, symmetry, density, leanness and definition. Whilst those characteristics can be achieved by appropriate training and dieting, the training itself, the physical aspect of achieving one’s physique is not being judged at all.
In this aspect, a bodybuilding competition has more in common with a beauty contest than an actual sport, or some might say, with some form of art, to put it more poetically.
This is not to say that bodybuilding isn’t an incredibly time and energy consuming activity. One has to push themselves to their physical limits on a regular basis in and outside of the gym, which is probably one of the reasons why out of all strength sports bodybuilding is by far the most popular ones.
To achieve their goal of being the most muscular and most aesthetic version of themselves Bodybuilders training techniques and diet revolve around achieving maximum muscle hypertrophy (or muscle-growth, more on this in a following article), whilst keeping their body as proportional as possible
Part 1.2 – Powerlifting
Contrary to Bodybuilding, Powerlifting is an actual sport in which one’s strength in the three main lifts is measured: The Squat, The Bench Press, and the Deadlift.
In the past, other lifts were incorporated, such as the Standing Barbell Shoulder Press, but these have been abolished over the decades for reasons such as the difficulty of actually defining the proper performance of the particular lift and the cheating potential which comes with this.
The worlds biggest Powerlifting Association is the IPF, the “International Powerlifting Federation”.
What some people might find surprising is that muscle size doesn’t necessarily equal muscle strength and even though there certainly is a correlation between strength and size it is not quite as significant as commonly believed.
Because of this, a Powerlifter’s Training Routine will differ quite a lot from a Bodybuilder’s, especially in terms of exercise selection, sets and reps, and frequency.
1.3 – Calisthenics
Although Calisthenics might sound like the most complicated of the three training styles defined in this article it might be the simplest.
Calisthenics basically is just another word for Bodyweight Training and as such uses familiar and commonly known exercises like Push-Ups, Pull-Ups and Sit-Ups. These can be used to build muscle and strength just as barbell or dumbbell exercises, however one can run into the issue of not being able to overload a specific exercise by adding more weight.
Alternatively, as explained in Your First Bodyweight Routine – A Beginners Workout, additional sets, reps or entirely new exercises to apply progressive overload, set new stimuli and drive muscle hypertrophy.
More advanced athletes of this discipline also incorporate certain moves used in acrobatics, mostly just to display their incredible ability to control their own bodies and not necessarily to drive their muscular development.
1.4 Cardiovascular Exercise
Cardiovascular Exercise includes all forms of aerobic exercise (in contradiction to anaerobic exercise), this means all forms of exercise, which last longer than your typical set of any strength exercise or sprints.
In the context of this blog, which mostly revolves around strength and physique training, it is mostly used as a means to burn calories and drop body fat percentage in order to achieve a more defined physique.
However, incorporating cardiovascular exercise will help you recover faster from your intense sets and increase your energy, not only during your strength training sessions but in your day to day life as well.
The most common forms of Cardiovascular Exercise are Running, Swimming and Cycling.
Thank you so much for your time and reading this article!
Feel free to leave any constructive criticism and let me know if you’d like to add anything.
In the next article of this series I will go into more depth in regards to hypertrophy, strength, muscular endurance, fat loss and body recomposition, and explain what they are, how they work and and how to apply this knowledge to your routine.