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8 Exercise Terms and What They Mean8 Exercise Terms and What They Mean


circuit training

Circuit Training

In a circuit training workout, you move quickly from exercise to exercise with each one focusing on a different muscle group. Circuit workouts include cardiovascular exercises, strength training exercises, or a combination of both. This type of training can be done with free weights, machines, or with no equipment at all. Circuit training is most often timed, so you might do squats for 45 seconds, take 15 seconds to switch exercises, and then do jumping jacks for 45 seconds. Creating a circuit that lasts 10 minutes is ideal because you can repeat 2 to 3 times for a full 20 to 30 minute workout.

DOMS (Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness)

DOMS is the muscle soreness you feel 12 to 72 hours after exercise. All types of activities can produce DOMS, and it affects both new and advanced exercisers. This type of muscle soreness is not a result of lactic acid build up, but rather due to the repair process for the microscopic damage to muscle fibers that occurs during exercise. The American College of Sports Medicine recommends that one of the best ways to reduce DOMS is to progress slowly with a new exercise program and give your muscles time to adapt. DOMS fades in 3 to 5 days leaving the muscle prepared to handle the exercise once again.

Dynamic Stretching

Dynamic stretching is stretching with slow and controlled movements. This is different than static stretching, which involves holding a stretch to elongate the muscle. It also should not be confused with ballistic stretching, or bouncing during the stretch, which could cause injury. Dynamic stretching is recommended as part of a warm-up prior to exercise. It heats up the body by increasing blood flow and elongates the muscle with each controlled movement. Examples include, arm circles, leg swings, knee lifts, and butt kicks.

Isometric Contraction

An isometric contraction (or isometric hold) occurs when you are using a muscle, but there is no joint movement or lengthening and shortening of the muscle. According to the Mayo Clinic, isometric exercises can help you maintain strength and are especially beneficial when recovering from injury when movement is painful. A plank and wall-sit are examples of isometric contractions.

Overload Principle

Overload is a strength training principle stating that in order for the muscle to grow stronger it must be challenged beyond what it can currently handle. This is why it is recommended that you lift a weight that makes it difficult to complete the last 2 to 4 repetitions of each set. This requires that your muscles grow stronger to complete the workout. Once the muscle adapts to this load, it’s time to increase the weight again.


Strength training is described with terms like repetitions and sets. Performing the exercise one time is one repetition. For example, one bicep curl is a repetition. A group of repetitions is a set. A set can be made up of any number of repetitions, often 2 to 20, depending on strength training goals.

Target Heart Rate

Your Target Heart Rate is a zone or range used to measure exercise intensity and ensure you are improving cardiovascular fitness. When you are in your Target Heart Rate Zone, your heart rate will be 75 to 85 percent of your maximum heart rate. When you first start exercising, you may be unable to work at this intensity, but this zone should serve as a goal for improving fitness. You can determine your range by using the MyFoodDiary Target Heart Rate Calculator.

VO2 Max

VO2 Max is a number that measures fitness level based on how efficiently you use oxygen during exercise. It reflects the amount of oxygen that your body transports and uses during a workout. The more fit you are, the higher your VO2 Max. Regular cardiovascular exercise that keeps your heart rate in your target heart rate zone improves VO2 Max.


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