By Katie Watson

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Do you ever feel lost when it comes to gym lingo? What does it all mean and why does it matter? With any goal having the right tools is important. The right tools can speed up or slow down your progress. Being clear on what your fitness goals are is crucial in designing or choosing an exercise program.

It is important to note that 80% EIGHTY PERCENT of your fitness goals will come down to your nutrition! Ugh! 10% is how you exercise and 10% comes down to your genetics. While exercising is important, nothing comes close to being as important as nutrition. Now, let’s get into it!


Body composition is important because everyone is different. 140 lbs on one person may look different on another person. Why? Because of what makes up the 140 lbs. A person with 30% body fat at 140 lbs will look different than someone with 20% body fat. And depending on height that same 140 lbs will look different on a tall person vs a short person. Composition is the amount of fat, muscle, bone mass, and water weight that makes up your body.

Have you ever heard someone say they are skinny fat? Meaning they know they might look healthy because they’re not overweight but they know they don’t have much muscle. Here are some images that give you an idea of what those fat/muscle percentages might look like. You can gauge where you might fall and adjust your nutrition and workouts accordingly.


Do not get stuck to that number on the scale! Instead, figure out your body composition by taking your measurements and weight. Those combined will tell you if you’re losing fat or building muscle. Remember, muscle is much leaner than fat, taking up less space. The scale might go up a tad, but your measurements will
go down.



Reps and sets are the most common terms used when it comes to workouts. You may already be familiar with these terms but let’s take a look anyway. Reps, which is short for repetitions, is referring to how many times you repeat the movement before resting. One set of 12 would be just that, you would do 12 repetitions of the
same movement and be done. The 12 reps are equal to 1 Set.

A set refers to how many times you will repeat the said number of repetitions. For example, say you are doing 3 sets of 12 bicep curls. You will perform 12 repetitions of the bicep curl and rest before repeating that same 12 reps again, then rest and repeat the same 12 reps once more for a total of 3 Sets.


This one is SUPER important, especially if you are trying to build muscle. Training to failure means you cannot do any more reps of an exercise than what is prescribed. Using the example above, 12 reps means you cannot possibly do 13 reps and maintain proper form. On your 12th rep, you can barely do it while maintaining good form.

NEVER sacrifice good form for heavier weight! You increase the chance of injury and we don’t want that!


Single sets are a single exercise performed for the prescribed amount of repetitions before resting. This is where most, if not all of us, start when we first begin lifting weights. Single sets are usually performed with 12-15 reps. A workout may consist of 4-6 different exercises. You would perform one exercise prescribed sets and reps before moving on to the next exercise sets and reps.

Supersets are when you combine two exercises back-to-back without resting between them to create one set. If the prescribed exercise is 3 sets of 12 bicep curls and 12 tricep extensions, you would do the 12 bicep curls and immediately go into the tricep extension with little to rest between them. Once the tricep extension is
complete then you would rest before repeating two more times. The benefit of supersets is you can shorten your workout by removing the rest between exercises. This also increases the intensity of the workout.

Giant sets are when you combine three or more exercises back-to-back without resting between to create one giant set. If the prescribed exercises are 3 sets of 12 bicep curls, 12 triceps extensions, and 12 lat pull-downs, you would do as before, performing each rep of the 12 bicep curls, followed immediately by the 12 tricep
extension and 12 lat pull-downs with little to no rest between any of them before finally resting after the lat pull down. Then repeating that same routine 2 more times for a total of 3 giant sets.

If you are short on time, Giant Sets are your jam! You save time by cutting out the rest between each exercise. Since you are resting less, this turns up the intensity again and can even get that heart rate working in the cardio zone without even running!


Now we’re getting fancy! Pyramid Sets are fun and still intense. Pyramid Sets are usually 4-6 Sets. Each set you change the amount of weight and reps used. The first set might consist of 12-15 reps. More reps mean lighter weight. In the next set, you’ll do 10-12 reps with more weight and so on until the last set the weight is so
heavy you can only perform 1-2 reps.

Pyramid Sets are a fun way to exhaust the muscle and change up your usual lifting. You start lighter and end heavy! And you get to count less! I always lose track of how many reps I’ve done.


A drop set is generally used as the last exercise in a workout as a finisher. You want to really make sure you’ve squeezed every ounce of energy out of the muscle group you’re working for maximum benefit. This is performed by starting out with 8-10 reps, making sure to use a weight to achieve failure. You then reduce the amount of
weight and begin again until you’ve reached failure and repeat for three or four more times. The key is to rest as little as possible to really fatigue the muscle.


If you’ve been working out hard and start to feel the burnout, maybe it’s time for a deload week. Resting is just as important as working hard! Your body needs time to repair those muscle fibers. But you don’t have to completely stop your workouts. You just take it easier by lifting lighter or not lifting as many days during the week,
giving your body time to rest and repair. This is your permission to take it easy and not feel guilty about it!

Deload once every 4-10 weeks. As you become more experienced with lifting weights you’ll want to make sure you include a deload week more often. Those of us who are inexperienced and still figuring out what weight we should be using will need fewer deload weeks. In general, if you’re feeling a burnout coming on, take a deload

Well, there you have it, some of the most common terms used in the fitness arena. I hope that was helpful to you. Always remember, you are STRONG!
Leave me a comment if you have any questions!

For more tips, motivation and information follow me on Instagram @taylorkati2018!

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  • Alice

    At the beginning of your article you mentioned that nutrition contributes more to your fitness goals than exercise. Can you do a post about that?

    • Katie

      Alice, thank you for your comment. I’m glad you asked! Yes, I am planning on doing a future post related to nutrition and fitness goals.

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