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Personal Trainer Glossary of Terms

author image Michelle Matte
Michelle Matte is an accomplished fitness professional who holds certifications in personal training, pilates, yoga, group exercise and senior fitness. She has developed curricula for personal trainers and group exercise instructors for an international education provider. In her spare time, Matte writes fiction and blogs.
Personal Trainer Glossary of Terms
A grasp of professional terminology is key for communication between trainers and clients. Photo Credit Pixland/Pixland/Getty Images

If you are a personal trainer, broadening your fitness vocabulary can help you communicate more efficiently with your clients and give you professional credibility with your peers. If you are a personal training client, having a basic understanding of fitness terminology will help you better understand what your trainer means when he is coaching you through your session.

Joint Movements

The body is a system of levers formed by bones that rotate about the joints. Human joint movement is referenced from anatomical position, with the body in an upright standing position, and in relation to an invisible midline which divides the body into right and left halves. "Flexion" is synonymous with "bend" and decreases the angle at the joint. "Extension" means "straighten" and increases the angle to anatomical position and "hyperextension" takes the joint beyond anatomical position as in a backbend. "Rotate" replaces the term "twist" and takes place in the trunk and ball-and-socket joints of the hips and shoulders. "Supination" turns the palms upward, as if cradling a bowl of soup, and "pronation" turns palms downward. "Abduction" moves an appendage away from the midline, as if it were being kidnapped and taken away, and "adduction" moves an appendage toward the midline.

Muscle Actions and Anatomy

Muscle actions and types of resistance have specific names. "Concentric" contraction refers to muscle shortening and "eccentric" contraction is muscle lengthening. During "isometric" resistance like a yoga plank, tension is present in the muscle but the muscle length does not change. "DCER" refers to dynamic constant external resistance typical of weightlifting, where muscle tension changes as the weight rotates about the joint. "Slow-twitch" muscle fiber is used for aerobic activity and "fast-twitch" is used for high-intensity anaerobic activity. While you don't need to speak Latin to be a trainer, learning the official names of the major muscles and muscle groups lends credibility to your professionalism.

Basic Fitness Principles

The "FITT Principle" outlines the variables of fitness training, frequency, intensity, time and type. The "Overload Principle" says that you must subject the body to more work than it is accustomed to for change to occur. The "Specificity Principle" states that physical change is specific to the training stimulus. For example, training for swimming will not prepare you to run a marathon. The "Principle of Regularity" states that you must be consistent in your exercise to retain the effects of training. The "Principle of Variability" refers to the necessity of varying your workout to continue to improve performance, facilitate muscle recovery and avoid boredom.

Cardiovascular Terminology

"VO2 Max" refers to the maximum amount of oxygen a body can use and is a function of "cardiovascular" fitness of the heart and circulatory system and "cellular respiration," the use of oxygen in the "mitochondria" of the cells where energy production takes place. Oxygen attaches to your red blood cells via the protein "hemoglobin" and is carried through the arteries to the cells. During "systole," the contraction phase of the left ventricle, blood is pumped into the circulatory system and during "diastole," the ventricle relaxes and refills, accounting for the variance in systolic and diastolic blood pressure.

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