Bodybuilding Glossary: Bodybuilding Terms and Why They Matter

Bodybuilding terminology can get complicated – there’s a lot of jargon to getting jacked, shredded, and aesthetic. 

We’ve put together this simple bodybuilding glossary so that you know what we’re talking about and keeps your muscle-building journey simple.

Abduction: moving a limb or joint away from the centre-line of your body, as drawn from the crown of the head downwards. The opposite of adduction.

Adduction: the opposite of abduction, this is when moving a limb or joint towards your centre-line, as drawn from the crown of the head downwards.

Aesthetic: refers to the specific, pleasing nature of physiques. These are a little subjective but refer to the things that make bodybuilding work: V-tapers, interesting lines, and conditioning – often overlaps with more ‘normal’ ideas of what a good body looks like.

Aerobic Exercise: exercise that uses oxygen for energy, primarily used to refer to ‘cardio’ and other endurance exercise. The aerobic system uses oxygen to metabolise fat and other stores and has a higher oxygen exchange rate.

Agonist: a muscle that performs an action – and is opposed to an antagonist. For example, the quads are agonists in extending the knee. Muscles tend to work in these agonist-antagonist pairs on joints.

Amino acids: the building blocks of proteins, forming chains. These are the crucial part of protein in the diet, muscle proteins, and other tissues. There are 9 essential amino acids and you need all of them for the best results – including branched-chain amino acids.

Anabolic: any reaction that produces the addition of compounds together, producing a larger compound afterwards. Anabolic and anabolism refer to growth in fitness contexts, and the state of being pro-growth and expending energy.

Anabolic Steroid: androgenic anabolic steroids are synthetic hormones that are taken to increase the speed and potential of muscle-growth, strength, and fat-loss. Illegal in many territories, AAS are banned in natural bodybuilding and sports.

Anaerobic Exercise: exercise that does not use oxygen for energy-reactions, relying on stored energy in the muscles and/or liver. This is usually restricted to short-term exercise under the 1-minute mark, such as low-rep weight training and sprinting. 

(Note: oxygen intake will increase afterwards but isn’t central to energy during exercise itself.)

Androgenic Drugs: any compound that makes a person more masculine (masculising) such as steroids or oestrogen-blockers. These compounds tend to be used to reduce water-retention in steroid-using bodybuilders, or to adjust resting free-oestrogen levels in some people.

Antagonist: the opposite of an agonist – a muscle that works in opposition to a certain movement of a joint. For example, the hamstrings are the agonist of knee extension and the quadriceps. 

Antioxidant: a compound or other factor that reduces the risk, potential, or damage associated with oxidative stress. This is damage from oxidative species and free radicals that can damage the DNA of cells, causing mutations and ‘aging’.

Arm Blaster: a piece of equipment that stops the elbows from moving backwards – usually used during bicep curls. This helps isolate the biceps and reduce the stress on shoulders, as well as providing a sweet pump!

Atrophy: the loss of tissue – the opposite of hypertrophy. Atrophy is usually used to refer to muscle atrophy or loss, the result of immobilisation, dietary deficiency, or trauma. Can also refer to muscle loss on a diet, but that’s a bit dramatic.

Arching: used to refer to the extension of the spine, usually during a bench press, where it offers a competitive advantage by reducing the range-of-motion. Can also be used to refer to spinal position in deadlifts and other exercises where the back is ‘more extended than straight’. Often useful in Olympic weightlifting.

Basic Exercise: exercises that are lower in complexity, intensity, or loading across multiple joints. May also refer to movements that are performed without load, such as push-ups and air squats, which are considered basic because they have smaller mental and physical demands. 

BCAAs: Branched-chain amino acids. These are a type of essential amino acid and they’re important because leucine is the main amine for signalling muscle growth, while isoleucine is a powerful anti-catabolic, muscle-sparing compound. 

These are a common part of the protein quality scale, sold as supplements, and provide a key focus for muscle-building enthusiasts of all types.

Beginner level: a vague but useful term that separates out people with more or less experience to ensure exercise, diet, and other habits are appropriate. Usually refers to anyone with less than one year of continuous, effective training experience – but timing and classifications vary. A hot topic.

Biomechanics: the study of the body as a system of structures, specifically in their function and motions. Treats the body with mechanical principles and inquiry, as the name suggests. Includes sub-topics such as dynamics, kinematics, and statics which deal with acceleration/deceleration, forces, motion, and stability.

Body composition: the things that make up a body, usually referring to the amount of muscle mass and fat mass a person is carrying. May also refer to other tissues that make up weight, such as bone density and connective tissues, or relationships (like ratios) of total weight and a specific tissue (like muscle).

Body morphology: usually refers to the individual shape of a single person’s body and how it relates to biomechanics. May also refer to anthropometry: a person’s specific, individual body leverages, insertions, and biomechanics.

Bodybuilding: the competitive and artistic pursuit of a muscular, aesthetic physique – judged on the building of muscle mass and reduction of bodyfat, symmetry, posing quality, and presentation of the physique. Bodybuilders are any people engaged in this pursuit, especially at a competitive level.

Bodyweight training: exercise that does not use external load but relies on the body’s own weight – and leverage – to provide resistance. This includes everything from Olympic gymnastics to gymnastic strength training, street calisthenics, and a simple push-up.

Buff: carrying a lot of muscle mass. Refers to muscle mass even if not lean. You can be big and strong and chubby but still buff.

Bulking Up (or Bulking): the process of deliberately and single-mindedly gaining mass. Refers to the bulk portion of the bulk-cut cycle where bodybuilders will deliberately aim at gaining mass first and then burn excess fat later on. Requires eating at a calorie surplus.

Burn: feel the burn. A sensation associated with metabolic change in the muscles that you’ll experience on higher-rep exercise that many bodybuilders aim for to ensure they’re overlapping both mechanical tension and metabolic change – often occurs under fatigue due to increased metabolic stress.

‘Plates’: a standard 20kg (or 45lbs) plate on either side of a barbell (e.g.). A 2-plate bench press, for example, is 100kg because there are 2, 20-kilogram plates on either side. These are major milestones from a time before 25kg (55lbs) plates were common – and is a part of the culture, now.

Calories: the unit of energy we use to measure human energy intake (in food) and output (in performing mechanical work like exercise). Specifically, the energy required to heat 1 gram of water by 1 degree (Celsius).

Calisthenics: a type of bodyweight movement that relies on gravity and leverage to produce resistance. Mostly referred to as bodyweight exercise, but often refers more specifically to any simple routine aimed at improving wellbeing and has less of a focus on competitive pursuits like gymnastics.

Carbohydrates: one of the 3 macronutrients that make up most of you diet. A short-term energy source, usually, and always made up of carbon, hydrogen, and oxygen. Separates broadly into sugars, starch, and fiber – but these categories have overlap and intermediaries.

Cardiovascular Training: endurance training aimed at improving the health of the heart and vascular system. A catch-all term for endurance exercise and aerobic exercise due to the focus on longer-duration exercise which improves the health and function of the cardiovascular (heart and blood vessels) system and the lungs (respiratory system).

Chalk Powder: usually magnesium carbonate, applied to areas such as the hands to reduce moisture and improve grip. Common in powerlifting and weightlifting, where it may be used during competition to reduce anomalous grip-issues and ensure a strong grip on the bar. Used in bodybuilding for similar purposes.

Cheating: usually refers to the addition of momentum into an exercise to help you lift a weight that would be impossible with strict form. Does not carry the same negative connotation as elsewhere in life – ‘cheat curls’ aren’t a bad thing, they’re just not-strict.

Other examples include the kipping pull-up or a bench press where your butt comes off the bench.

Cholesterol: a type of lipid that is found in food and in the body. Mostly refers to cholesterols as a waxy form of energy storage. These are essential to the way your body functions, ensuring healthy hormone function and proper tissue formation.

“Good” and “bad” cholesterol is actually determined by how much is being carried in a lipoprotein. To oversimplify, you want cholesterol transport to be dense so it’s not taking up too much space in arteries and veins – so high-density lipoproteins (HDL) are good, and low-density lipoproteins (LDL) are bad.

Cholesterol and lipoprotein health are determined by activity, lifestyle, and diet. 

Circuit Training: performing multiple exercises in series without deliberate rest between exercises. Can be seen in calisthenics, CrossFit, and other formats where a sequence of exercise is utilised instead of a single exercise at a time. Overlaps with supersets, though has more of an endurance-focus in most contexts.

Clean: An Olympic weightlifting movement where the barbell is moved from the floor to the shoulders (front rack) in one movement. Can be broken down into a power clean (caught in a stance above a parallel squat), hang clean (performed from the ‘hang’ – where the barbell is deadlifted before being lowered again), or performed from blocks.

The first portion of the clean and jerk movement.

Clean and Jerk: one of the 2 contested movements of weightlifting – or Olympic weightlifting. Requires the barbell to be moved from the floor to the shoulders in one movement, before being moved from the shoulders to locked arms, overhead, in another.

Disqualifying criteria include touching the elbows to the knees, rebending the arms in the jerk, or being unstable under the bar (without feet in-line) at the end position.

Collar: the device used to affix plates, securely, onto a barbell. These come in many fashions – spring clips, lever collars, and Olympic-standard pressure collars (2.5kg each). Used to prevent plates sliding off of the bar.

Concentric: the portion of an exercise where the agonist muscle is working – usually to raise the weight. The movement where you’re working against gravity – such as the standing portion of the squat or the pressing portion of the bench press.

Compound movements: exercises that utilise multiple joints to perform a movement. Examples include the squat, deadlift, bench press, and barbell row. These are common and popular movements for time-efficiency, the ability to lift more weight, and because of their value as tests of strength, as well as ways to improve strength.

Crunches: an abdominal exercise that involves flexing the spine – crunching the shoulders and hips together. Often used as an ab exercise due to the ability to perform higher reps, rapid ‘burn’ in the target muscles, and simplicity.

Also includes many high-quality variations like the cable crunch, reverse crunch, or plate crunch.

Curl-Bar: the EZ curl bar is a style of barbell designed specifically for curls and other arm movements – like the skullcrusher. It features a zig-zag pattern handle to allow for neutral grip for curls and tricep exercises, allowing more comfort in the wrists. Usually weighs 7.5-10kg.

Cutting: the opposite of bulking, in which you’re focusing on burning excess fat while maintaining (or even building) muscle mass. Often follows a bulking phase, during which you may have gained muscle as well as extra fat. Cutting is about conditioning: burning fat, improving muscular exposure, and improving the appearance (especially texture) of the physique.

Deficiency: not getting enough of something – usually a nutrient. Typically refers to vitamin and mineral deficiency, where levels are below established guidelines. However, this may also be used to refer to sub-optimal intake, especially in bodybuilding communities where nutrition needs, and targets are treated with more strictness and concern.

Definition: the degree to which muscle mass, insertions, and other features are presented through both muscle-gain and conditioning. Definition is the degree to which your muscle is visible to the naked eye and is the very goal of bodybuilding, along with symmetry and other judged factors.

Delts (or deltoids): the shoulder muscles, comprising the front, rear, and lateral aspects. These are important in bodybuilding for producing proportion – widening the shoulder girdle and improving the ‘V-taper’ (ratio of shoulders to hips or waist). An essential silhouette muscle for looking larger.

Detraining: the opposite of overtraining. Loads being used below the amount to either progress or maintain – depending on goal. A low training volume relative to what you’re accustomed to, which allows a short-term backslide in training results and performance. 

Also notable during periods of immobility, injury, and other circumstances. Any training volume or load that falls short of the amount required to achieve your training goals that is not deliberate (e.g. not a rest day or deload week).

Deloading:

Diet: the foods you eat, in what proportions, and in what format. An essential aspect of any exercise, sport, or bodybuilding pursuit. Effectively controls changes to bodyweight, body composition, progress in strength and mass, and cutting. You aren’t on a diet – you have a diet.

Dip Belt: a piece of equipment that allows you to fix extra weight to your body – often used for dips, hence the name. Also used in other exercises such as the pull-up, chin-up, and muscle-up (if you’re nuts). An essential piece of gym kit for anyone looking to make long-term calisthenics progress for bodybuilding.

Drying Out: usually refers to the process of reducing water retention associated with the late days of competitive bodybuilding preparation. In steroid users, this is particularly intense due to the use of anti-oestrogens, changing androgen use, and even diuretics and other dangerous compounds.

Can refer, generally, to any process of strict dieting that aims to burn fat and/or reduce water retention.

Drop sets: sets performed after the heaviest set, often with reduced weights and a focus on higher reps or increasing fatigue. Effectively aims to compensate for the loss of strength-capacity after a very heavy set, allowing for more training volume.

Dumbbell: a small weight designed to be used with one-handed and allowing for a wide range of exercises with a great stimulus for things like stability – and sometimes a longer range of motion. Essential kit for getting the best bodybuilding results.

Eccentric: the opposite of concentric. The portion of a movement where you’re working with gravity to lower a weight, extending the agonist instead of contracting it. For example, the lowering phase of a bench press or squat, where you’re controlling the weight but not lifting it.

This is also the portion during which passive tissues are most engaged and during which significant muscle damage occurs. Also closely studied in power exercise (like sprinting) where eccentric-concentric cycles are even more important.

You’re strongest in the eccentric portion, which is why eccentric overload exercises are commonly used in sports training and bodybuilding. Requires significant recovery time and training experience!

Essential Amino Acids (EAAs): these are amino acids that your body cannot produce internally. Other, non-essential amino acids can be constructed out of other proteins internally, but EAAs need to come from your diet – which is why you’re more likely to be deficient in them.

These are the most important amino acids in a protein source, determine quality and effect on muscle-growth, and they include the important BCAA class of amino acids.

Estrogen: the feminine sex hormone associated with feminising characteristics. Present in all humans, with effects determined by ratios to other sex hormones and derivatives acting in the body. Often associated with women’s health across a range of functions and tissues, with important implications in areas like bone health and breast cancer risk.

A pro-water-retention and ‘softness’ compound sought to be reduced in steroid- and PED-users. Can be controlled through lifestyle to an extent, crucial for drying out and cutting, where oestrogen levels make weight loss stubborn and limit certain fat stores from being burned up.

Extension: the process of moving a joint towards maximal ‘open’ position – such as straightening the knee. Associated with specific muscle functions and is often defined towards straight-ness of a joint but may be more complicated (as in the shoulder).

Often overlaps with important sports performance and power exercise like sprinting and jumping.

Failure: the inability to perform a single extra repetition. Often used as a way of prescribing reps as “to failure” – performing repetitions until no more can be performed voluntarily.

In bodybuilding, can also be used to refer to concentric, isometric, and eccentric failure. Each of these is stronger than the previous and can be used in forced reps to continue ‘past failure’ with assistance from a coach or training partner.

Fat: a type of long-term energy store composed of lipids. This can be found in foods but also in the body itself, referred to as dietary and body fats respectively.

Bodyfat is the body’s store of long-term energy and is made up from fats produced by the surplus of calories in food. Fat is accumulated when you consume more calories than you use, consistently, and is both metabolically and hormonally active in adult humans.

Dietary fats – or lipids – are fats from food. These are also calorie-stores for plants and animals, in many cases, and they have a role in hormonal health. Dietary fats are saturated or unsaturated, and many diets prefer the latter. Fat intake should remain above a set level, determined by weight and activity, to support hormonal wellbeing.

Fasting: the deliberate choice not to eat during specific times or for a specific period of time. This is often associated with religious and cultural practices but, in recent times, has taken on a dietary role in some individuals who use intermittent fasting.

Not a deliberately useful practice for bodybuilding, most of the time, but can be used towards specific goals in individuals with the experience and understanding to fast healthily.

Fake natty: an individual who claims to be natural despite having a physique that defies natural possibility or other evidence against their natural status. Individuals who claim natural for clout, financial gain, or sporting purposes and misleads people about their PED usage.

These individuals are often financially-incentivised through sponsorships, supplement companies, and other personal investments to not disclose their PED usage. May provide tongue-in-cheek or deliberately ambiguous responses when discussing performance-enhancing drugs.

(See also: scum)

Fat free mass: the amount of mass in the body when fat is removed from the equation. “Lean” mass.

FFMI is often used as a measure of what is naturally possible, with “pre-steroid” bodybuilders used as an example of what is naturally possible. FFMI scores above 25 often concern people for identifying fake natties, but these factors are closely contested since research methods are relatively suspect.

A good measure to track progress but often requires close monitoring and tracking for reliable measures.

Flexibility: the ability to move through a large range of motion in a joint or muscle. Closely related to mobility, but does not stipulate the active control of a range – can be gravity- or machine-assisted like a straddle split, e.g.

Not a contested factor in bodybuilding, but an effective focus for all sportspeople and bodybuilders to reduce “at-risk” ranges for joints. Should be developed with a focus on control to ensure injury-prevention and improve training results.

Flexion: the ‘closing’ of a joint, opposed to extension. Examples include closing the knee (hamstring) or the elbow (bicep) – antagonists to extension and associated muscles.

Forced Reps: reps performed with the aid of a partner or other way of reducing load after failure. For example, a partner may help lifting by ‘lifting’ just enough weight to allow you to perform additional reps, expanding sets even when you’re not longer able to perform another rep.

Can also refer specifically to isometric or eccentric forced reps where a partner helps lift the weight, but you have to hold it in one place or fight the ‘lowering’ portion of the lift actively. Advanced bodybuilding technique – not for beginners.

Free Weights: any weighted exercise that is not fixed to a movement pattern or plane of motion. Excludes smith machines, nautilus machines, or cable machines. Examples include barbells, kettlebells, dumbbells, sand bags, and so forth.

Often used for coordination and movement training and ensures active, internal stability of the joints. Should be considered primary for most people, due to these effects, but best paired with non-free weights (machines) in a program.

Fructose: a type of sugar that is often found in fruits and other naturally sweet compounds like honey or maple syrup. Considered to act differently from glucose by some, with specific individualised nutrition applications.

For most people, these differences are not relevant and obscure the simple fact that appropriate sugar intake and timing is more important.

Giant Sets: like supersets but with more sets, usually 4 or more exercises without rest between each exercise. This is basically circuit training for bodybuilders, where each exercise is (usually) easier than the previous to allow you to continue training the muscle without rest and increase both mechanical tension and metabolic stress on the muscle.

Glucose: the simplest sugar format, a single molecule of highly-digestible energy. The single most fundamental carb source and one of the most common forms of carbohydrate in the body itself.

This is found in long chains in some foods (simple carbs) but is found in a wide range of formats in a wide range of foods. Considered by some to be significantly different (for metabolic purposes) to fructose but plays a similar function in the overall diet of many.

Glucose-sensing is one of the most important factors in insulin function and arguments around its importance and role in the diet are ongoing – and probably always will be.

Glycogen: the form in which your body transports glucose for use, as stored in the muscles and liver alike. This is basically a massive chain of glucose molecules and can be transported around the body.

Carbohydrate intake in bodybuilders and strength trainees usually focuses on glycogen loading to ensure energy reserves. Continued use and replenishing of glycogen causes supercompensation where muscle- and liver-store sizes are increased.

Genetics: the DNA in your cells that determines things like transcription, growth, and differentiation. Basically establishes individual differences and makes you who you are – with some input from your environment and choices.

Usually refers to the things about your physique and training that you can’t control – like your muscle insertions, bone formation, and capacity for muscle mass. Not as cut-and-dry as people think.

Hand Off/Lift Off: when a partner or coach helps you move the weight from a rack – usually on bench – to help you get in position for the lift. This is often used because of the fiddly and uncomfortable positioning on the bench press rack compared to the starting position of the movement.

Commonly used in powerlifting competitions and an entirely legitimate way to approach heavy sets. Practice the lift-off yourself, but having a spotter is both legitimate and a great help.

Hard-gainer: a term used by guys (mostly) who are struggling to gain weight to refer to themselves. A bit of a myth, since the basic energetics of weight gain apply to us all equally and most ‘hardgainers’ just don’t eat enough.

A common term to refer to anyone small or struggling to gain muscle mass. Insult, in some circles.

Hypertrophy: literally ‘growing tissue’. Refers to the development of muscle mass but is also scientifically applicable to other tissues like tendons, ligaments, bones, and others.

Usually the result – and goal – of an exercise program. A key part of the bulking or massing process that makes bodybuilding possible. 

Hypertrophy training: training specifically aimed at the development of muscle mass and other important tissues. 

In practice, this usually aims at the sweet spot of increasing both mechanical tension and metabolic stress – the 2 major levers of hypertrophy. These drive both the development of muscle tissue itself (or myofibrillar hypertrophy) and “wet” muscle gain (or sarcoplasmic hypertrophy) – though these are confusing.

IFBB: the international federation of bodybuilding and fitness. The largest bodybuilding organisation in the world and de facto professional bodybuilding fed. This federation organises significant world- and continental-level bodybuilding competitions and maintains a professional roster of competitors.

Notable competitions include the Mr Olympia and Mr Universe. Run by the Weiders, which establishes a clear lineage across the past half-century and, to some, their guiding interests. An important cultural icon for all bodybuilders due to dominance and historical influence.

Intensity: refers to how hard something is. Usually, this refers to the % of your best performance in an exercise and is used to deliver a guide to what kind of weights you should use today. E.g. 5×5 squats at 70% of your squat 1-rep max.

Can also refer to psychological intensity which is how difficult something is or the mental energy you’re bringing to the exercise. Can be used as Rate of Perceived Exertion (RPE) which categorises how hard something was – or how much is ‘in the tank’ – for training and review purposes.

Intermediate level: a very vague description of how experienced someone is with strength training or bodybuilding. Typically refers to anyone with more than a year or two of experience with training but may be reserved for specific accomplishments relative to competition or personal milestones.

Can extend for years, depending on standards for advanced, which may be up to 5 years of experience. A deliberately vague term, perhaps, as standards for advanced tend to increase with experience.

Isometric Exercise: an exercise that consists of holding a weight or position without moving. The challenge is to maintain position against gravity, load, or leverage – like a fully-extended leg extension hold. 

These exercises are most commonly used to reinforce important positions (i.e. a paused deadlift) or to improve stability and health in a joint. Can be used as a form of additional volume or forced reps when you’re unable to perform more concentric exercise – especially with a partner or coach.

Isolation Exercise: an exercise that focuses on a single joint and the muscles around it. This includes famous examples like the bicep curl which (ostensibly) only targets the bicep and its role on the elbow.

In reality, these are rare since you’re still activating other muscles around the joint – but can be achieved with machines and other equipment. The point is that the focus is on one muscle, and this can be useful for the mind-muscle connection or adding extra volume to a specific muscle you want to grow.

Juice: slang term for steroids and other PEDs. If someone is ‘on juice’ or ‘juicy’, they’re either suspected or confirmed as a steroid-user. Common in bodybuilding federations where such things are not banned or frowned upon – and almost all ‘open’ competitors where mass requirements are enormous.

Junk volume: a half-true term to refer to the use of exercises and training volume that doesn’t quite connect with a person’s goal. May refer to unnecessary or unproductive time, reps, or sets in the gym which aren’t doing much to get them closer to their goal.

This is only really true in cases where the exercise is performed improperly, where injury risk outpaces muscle gain stimulus, or when training beyond recoverability. It’s usually used to refer to “training sub-optimally or inefficiently” (or like an idiot).

Knee Wraps: a type of supportive equipment that exists to combat the expansive-compressive forces on the knees. As weight compresses the knees, they bulge outwards under the pressure – knee wraps and sleeves exist to combat this and provide a counter-force, keeping knees healthy.

They’re also warm and elasticated, which can help reduce the feeling of compression in the joint and improve the sense of ‘bounce’ in exercises like the squat. Wraps tend to have more supportive and assistive effect than sleeves.

Lats: the latissimus dorsi – enormous muscles on the back that extend from the lower back over the top of the shoulders. The main muscles in many upper back exercises like pull-ups but also a key stabiliser of the spine in many exercises.

An essential part of an effective V-taper where they provide a sloping silhouette from the waist to the shoulders. The lats are a key player in bodybuilding for producing proportion and must be trained for symmetry, too, due to how common and damaging lat imbalance can be for a physique – especially around the shoulder blades.

Lean Body Mass: similar to fat-free body mass but is simpler – it’s your body mass without non-essential fats. Lean body mass includes the fats in your system that are essential for survival, and which are involved in essential functions – like cholesterols and fats in areas like the brain and liver without which you’d not function.

LBM is, thus, a closer representation to a baseline of mass that would be possible.

Ligament: the tough, collagen-based non-elastic tissues that attach bones to each other. These are an essential connective tissue and absorb significant forces during exercise. 

Ligaments are not elastic, like tendons, and are should not be deformed in the same way. Ligaments, like other connective tissues, are also slower to repair and strengthen than muscles and require patient, sustainable loading. Many career-ending injuries occur in the ligaments.

Lock Out: the moment of complete extension of a joint – like the knees or elbow. These are the sign that you have completed a repetition in many exercises – especially in powerlifting where the movement does not count if lock-out (of the knees and hips or elbows) have not been achieved.

This is also the position in which you are strongest, usually. It can also refer to the final portion of the movement when practicing partial exercises – like the pin press – which ‘work on the lock-out’. This is simply the final portion of the lift when broken down into challenging ‘sticking points’.

Mass: the amount of stuff there is. Often associated with things like weight, mass will refer to the amount of you there is – and specifically muscle and fat.

A key factor in bulk-cut cycles where you gain mass and then try to maintain it. Most bodybuilding categories take mass into consideration, where more musculature will generally be favourable – all other things being equal.

Macronutrients: protein, carbs, and fats. The 3 main sources of dietary energy and the most important factors for influencing things like muscle growth and fat loss, once calories are set to appropriate levels. 

Macronutrients are also the main factors we track in a diet to ensure it matches up with your goals and activity levels. FYI, Protein and carbs are 4 calories per gram, while fat is 9 calories per gram. Roughly.

Micronutrients: vitamins and minerals. They’re called micro because you need fewer of them to achieve your daily requirements – not because they’re unimportant.

Micronutrients are part of the diet that are fiddly for most people and achieved through a range of healthy and nutrient-dense foods. This is, usually, where we get ideas of ‘healthy food’ from, which usually just means micronutrient-dense.

There are 13 essential vitamins and 16 trace minerals. Eat your veggies.

Metabolic rate: the basal metabolic rate is the amount of calories that your body would use in a day if you did literally nothing. BMR refers to the resting metabolic turnover of energy required to just keep your body alive and support the processes required for life.

These are specifically useful for calculating your calorie needs in TDEE (total daily energy expenditure). To oversimplify, BMR + NEAT (non-exercise activity thermogenesis) + exercise = TDEE.

Simple.

Metabolism: all of the processes around the intake, absorption, transfer, and use of energy. This refers to everything from diet to gut efficiency to hormonal function to energy transfer to cellular energetics.

Metabolism is complicated – and we talk about it in stupid ways a lot of the time. It’s an essential part of effective bodybuilding, however, and keeping yours healthy and working with it are key.

Midsection: the torso and all the muscles and organs it carries. We also call this the bread basket – everything from the hips to the shoulders. 

In bodybuilding this refers primarily to the core, lats, and back. These sections are trained and also have specific fat-storage issues, like the love handles or belly fat, which make them an important area for exercise and dietary concern.

Military press: an overhead pressing movement in which the barbell is pressed with a narrow grip, narrow stance, and the shoulders staying above (not behind) the hips.

This is a stricter approach to overhead pressing than many other forms and demands strict technique. It also has more core involvement due to the exacting movement standards – and is popular for both building and testing strength – especially in strongman training.

Minerals: trace elements that your body requires from the diet – and cannot produce internally – to maintain healthy functions. These are often tied into metabolism and hormonal function with compounds like iron, magnesium, zinc, and iodine being crucial to proper function.

As with vitamins, these are found in foods and should come from a variety of whole foods in your diet.

Muscle: a contractile bundle of proteins. These actually come in 2 forms: smooth cardiac and skeletal. 

Skeletal muscle is what we work on in bodybuilding and is made up of a series of smaller segments that function in response to nerve-electricity. These are the muscles you have control over, and they’re made up of proteins – which is why proteins are important in the diet. 

Specifically, these are collagen, actin, and myosin (as well as a bunch of more-specific proteins).

Muscle Spasm: non-deliberate and often uncomfortable muscle activation. Can be caused by nervous or chemical changes in the muscle and are often associated with other issues like cramping or loss of muscular control.

1RM: a 1-rep max. The most weight you can possibly perform on a given exercise. 

This number is important for tracking strength levels and is used to prescribe other workouts by determining the % that you should use. For example, 5×5 bench press with 65% of your 1-rep max.

E1RM refers to an estimated 1-rep max, which is often used to track with strength gains without testing the actual 1-rep max. This can be useful in longer training blocks in powerlifting, or in bodybuilding where strength levels are secondary to building more muscle mass or losing fat.

Negative Reps: reps that are performed entirely – or specifically – in the eccentric. These include forced reps and are focused on the additional strength you can produce in the eccentric portion to lower a weight as slowly as possible.

Common examples for beginners include things like jumping pull-ups with a slow descent. 2-up, 1-down leg presses are another great example that can be used to build power and strength on one leg. Negative reps are often an advanced technique for those with experience and healthy connective tissues.

Nutrients: technically, anything that has a calorie-value. However, most often this is used to refer to micronutrients, where nutrient-density is a measure of the amount of vitamins and minerals a food provides relative to its calorie content.

Nutrients are any kind of ingredients in a food or supplement that have a desirable effect on the body. The nutrient value of a protein shake is in its protein, usually, while the nutrient value of a banana is more associated with its vitamins and minerals. 

A term with many uses.

Nutrition: the field associated with human diet, food, and their effect on the body. In bodybuilding, this specifically refers to the foods you eat and their effect on your training and training-response.

Natural limit: the maximum amount of muscle mass – at a given bodyfat % – that you can carry based on your genetics.

Most people never meet their natural limit, and the term is often used prematurely. Applies to both the size of a person’s frame and their ability to maintain mass during a cut, as we can all carry more muscle mass with slightly more bodyfat.

If you haven’t been training for 10 years, you probably don’t need to use this term.

Olympia: the highest bodybuilding competition in the competitive ladder – held by the IFBB and considered to be the Olympics of bodybuilding.

The highest prize pool, most media coverage, and biggest stars turn up for the Olympia. This is the most coveted title in bodybuilding and applies across all the contested men’s and women’s categories with a lineage going back to 1965.

Not to be confused with an Olympian, which is someone who competed at the Olympic games.

Olympic Barbell: a barbell that complies with at least the rough outline of the IWF’s barbell design. Specifically, weighing 20kg and being around 7ft long. 

These split into men’s and women’s bars. The men’s bar is 20kg and 7ft, while the women’s bar is 15kg and 6.5ft from cuff to cuff. Sleeves are shorter and the diameter is smaller on a women’s barbell to account for the general differences in hand size and the weight categories contested in (Olympic) weightlifting.

These designs are standardised and have become popular, while some of the more esoteric, expensive, or competitive demands (like tensile strength and spin) are variable from product to product.

Overtraining: a condition that is usually experienced only in endurance sports where training load produces hormonal disruption and negative effects.

In bodybuilding and strength training, this usually refers to ‘non-functional overreaching’ where training produces negative results. This is usually due to a mismatch between recovery demands and recovery potential – which is remedied by reducing training load, improving recovery factors (like diet and sleep), or taking time off.

Overload Principle: an essential principle that states that improvements to muscle tissue and other factors follows overload – an increasing load over time. 

This overload takes many forms – weight lifted, reps, sets, total weekly volume, etc. – but must tend towards increase over time for muscle and strength gains. The body responds to this stimulus by preparing for future challenges and becomes stronger.

This is also called supercompensation and describes how – and why – you get bigger and stronger.

Old school bodybuilding: a term that refers vaguely to bodybuilding in the 1960s-1980s where the culture and media-representation of bodybuilding were different. 

Often used to romanticise the contrasts of older bodybuilding with present-day competition and culture. Even more specifically, can be used to compare different types of physiques that dominated the bodybuilding world and culture. Old-school bodybuilding tends to focus on icons like Arnold Schwarzenegger, Frank Zane, Serge Nubret, and Franco Columbu (and contemporaries).

Partial Reps: repetitions of an exercise that do not cover the whole range of possible movement in that exercise. Pin presses and box squats are common examples that you might see in the gym.

These focus on strengthening a particular part of the movement – which may be to train specific muscles, to strengthen a sticking point and improve whole-range performance, or to transfer over to sport demands.

Remember, however: sometimes people use partial movements as an excuse not to do the whole thing. Partial movements should only be undertaken as a way to improve, add to, or strengthen full-range movements. If you’re not using full-range movements, as well, then you’ll leave gaps in your development.

Paused reps: repetitions of an exercise that involve a deliberate pause. These are often used to improve technical performance or postural strength – such as in the paused squat, where a trainee pauses in the bottom position.

These are great ways to remove the bounce associated with some exercises and improve the proper feeling and co-ordination of a movement. In others, they may be used to improve limb position or cue better trunk control.

In others, they may be used simply to improve time under tension without lifting more weight. RDLs, for example, benefit from a pause at the bottom due to the time spent at the longest lever, challenging the back and hamstrings more effectively.

Plates: weight plates used on a barbell to standardise and measure the weights being loaded. These come in a number of formats and are common in gyms across the world.

Plates are most commonly found in the following increments:

  • 1.25kg
  • 2.5kg
  • 5kg
  • 10kg
  • 15kg
  • 20kg
  • 25kg
  • (rarely) 50kg

And their lb equivalents. Smaller fractional plates exist in many weightlifting gyms.

Plyometric Exercise: exercises that move through the stretch-shortening cycle of muscles and tendons. These include explosive exercises like jumps, sprinting, bounding, and anything else that involves rapidly stretching and contracting the muscles and tendons.

These are a common part of sports training and may improve performance in maximum strength exercises. However, they don’t build muscle and shouldn’t be a mainstay of bodybuilding due to the stress they place on tendons and ligaments.

Pose: poses are positions that are used in bodybuilding to show off the development, definition, and aesthetics of a physique. While you can’t out-pose a bad physique, the quality and effectiveness of posing in equally-developed competitors can make or break a performance.

Posing is a specialist skill that often involves a dedicated posing coach and has overlap with areas like dance, adding an artistic edge to bodybuilding that is often ignored by the general public. Posing is good fun and a great way to show off the hard work bodybuilding requires.

Poundage: see Tonnage – or ask your mom.

Powerlifting: the sport of squatting, bench pressing, and deadlifting. A competitive pursuit for strength measured in the total tonnage lifted across these 3 lifts, each with 3 attempts. 

A close relation to bodybuilding due to the overlap of strength and hypertrophy training. With significant cultural and methodological differences, however, powerlifting and bodybuilding borrow from one another while maintaining a reasonable distance.

Often found overlapping in the context of powerbuilding and the hypertrophy phase of powerlifting programs, bodybuilding and powerlifting are odd relatives.

Programming: the planning of workouts and training over time to elicit the best possible results. Often performed by professional coaches or experienced, knowledgeable individuals to help athletes improve more rapidly.

Can also be used for other purposes such as the rehabilitation of injuries, prevention of injuries, or development of athletic characteristics. An art form by itself, programming is a deeply interesting and complex process for non-beginners!

Powerbuilding: the pursuit of size and strength, overlapping some of the best bits of both bodybuilding and powerlifting.

This involves a bodybuilding approach that centres around building muscle through methods and lifts most closely associated with powerlifting. The overlap between hypertrophy and strength is balanced out and aims to use muscle gains to lift bigger weights.

In one sense, this is its own thing – as it has its own priorities. However, experienced bodybuilders and powerlifters will usually tell you that these have overlapped since the 60s, and even before, when being big and strong were always taken together. It’s only recently that bodybuilding and powerlifting cultures have radically departed.

Progression: getting better, closing the gap between where you are and your goal, and watching desirable numerical or aesthetic changes take place.

Progress is about increasing muscle mass, reducing fat mass, improving strength, lifting better, reducing injury risk, improving old injuries, and racking up athletic improvements. Bodybuilding has many types of progress, all of which come from the behavioural changes you make to diet and exercise.

Proteins: the only truly-essential macronutrient, the building block of muscles and connective tissue, and the most important nutrient for bodybuilding by far.

Proteins are chains of amino acids and they’re broken down into these constituent acids in the body before being re-formed into other proteins. The proteins you eat become the proteins in your tissues which is why more protein is better for more muscle growth and reducing muscle loss during a diet.

Proteins also regulate digestive and metabolic processes, which makes them an effective part of your health, as well as muscle and connective tissue growth/repair.

Pump: the sensation of muscular swelling and inflammation that comes from performing challenging higher-rep exercise. This is a great feeling that is often accompanied by looking at yourself in the mirror and thinking “wow, imagine if I was this big all the time”.

It feels great and is one of the factors that many bodybuilders chase in training. It doesn’t directly cause muscle gains but can improve the training-response after higher-intensity exercise and often overlaps with high-rep metabolic change, which is useful for muscle gains.

Push day: a training day dedicated to pushing movements, especially in contrast to pulling movements – which are often paired in a push/pull split program.

Push movements are all about extension – think of things like bench and overhead press, squatting, tricep pushdowns, etc. Push days tend to focus on the front of the body, while allowing antagonists (pulling muscles) to recover.

Pull day: the opposite of push day, providing training for the pulling muscles in a common push/pull split program. Pull days focus on rowing, pull-ups, deadlifts and hip hinging, as well as some niche upper body exercises like face pulls and reverse flyes.

These are contrasted with push days – and sometimes also “legs” sessions – to rotate training priorities in a way that is easy to understand. These tend to prioritise the posterior chain and upper back, making them ‘back’ sessions, to an extent.

Push/Pull training: a system of training and writing programs that uses the contrast between push and pull exercises to structure training weeks. 

Push-pull is an appropriate training system for intermediates and helps organise training in a simple way. It’s not perfect – you’re still going to fatigue the antagonist muscles – but it helps make training increasingly specific as you develop.

Bodybuilding programs become more focused as you progress, with focus on pushing movements acting as a way to focus on mostly-upper, mostly-anterior exercise. It’s also a great transition from full-body workouts to muscle- or movement-specific workouts.

Pumped: see pump. The experience of a pump in a specific muscle.

Quads: quadriceps – the 4 muscles on the front of the thigh and hip responsible for extending the knee and, to a lesser extent, the hip. These are primarily trained in exercises like the squat, deadlift (especially the rectus femoris), and lunging movements.

Quads are important for many strength and sporting movements, making them a common place for training priorities and focus. They’re also attached to the hip and knee, making them a key player in reducing overall hip and knee injury risks.

Range of motion (ROM): the range through which a joint, muscle, or movement moves. For example, the ROM of a knee is around 150 degrees, which can be trained in full or partial movements.

On the other hand, the ROM of a squat is the combined flexion of the ankle, knee, and hip – which can be judged based on a single person’s morphology. We use ROM to discuss exercises and flexibility issues, but it’s a deeply personal factor and must be considered one person at a time!

Repetition: a single performance of an exercise from start to finish, often organised in sets

For example, 1 repetition of bench press is from locked out, down to the chest, and back to lockout. Repetitions are cycles of movement that we put together to create sets, and which are used to organise workouts and programmes for deliberate effect.

Rest Pause Training: training sets with deliberate, short rests incorporated. For example, I might ask you to perform 20 reps of bench press at a certain weight with rest-pauses. This might involve performing 15 repetitions in a row, taking a 10 second rest, and then performing 5 more.

Rest pauses are a way of keeping intensity and reps high, without failing weights, and without needing to change weights. This is a simple way to build muscle without over-thinking what weight to use and you can progress by adding weight, performing less pauses, or increasing total reps. Easy.

Ripped: a slang term for someone who is lean and/or muscular. Ripped is all about conditioning in the bodybuilding world, where it refers to someone who has low body fat, is vascular, or dried out.

Rotator cuff: the structure in the shoulder controlled by 4 muscles – the supraspinatus, subscapularis, infraspinatus, and teres minor. 

The rotator cuff is essential to healthy shoulder movement but is often limited or injured due to improper movement control, muscular development, or traumatic injury. This is key for how we perform exercises and how we maintain shoulder strength, stability, and control to prevent injuries.

Routine: a routine in the gym refers to the pattern of workouts, exercises, reps, sets, and weights used.

It’s dictated by programming but may be used more loosely. A gym routine doesn’t have to be specific in the way that programming tends to be. For example, an (unnamed) full-body program that focuses on 5 sets of 5 on squat, bench, and deadlift is more of a routine than a programme – which usually specifies weights, reps, and sets.

Gym routines are an essential part of making sure you’re progressing and have the same exercises often enough to get better at them.

Saturated fats: a type of fat that is typically solid at room temperature and has a waxy consistency. Saturated fats have a high proportion of single-bond fatty acid molecules and have a bad reputation for causing heart problems.

They don’t cause heart problems by themselves – but only when over-eaten or, specifically, eating low-quality fats. Some healthy saturated fats include coconut and MCT oils, for example. Often found in animal fats which, also, are not unhealthy by themselves.

Set: a series of repetitions without re-racking the weights or stopping for extended periods of time. Sets allow us to control the amount of time spent moving the weight – even if that’s bodyweight – to produce progress and measure our performance over time.

Sets apply to all kinds of exercises and may be determined by number of repetitions, RPE goals, or even distance (for things like lunges or sled push).

Snatch: An Olympic lift in which the bar is moved from the floor to overhead in a single, continuous movement. As with the clean, this breaks down into phases and variations – like the hang snatch (performed “top-down” where the barbell is lifted and then lowered before the snatch), power snatch (caught with the thighs above parallel) or from blocks.

Competition snatches cannot allow re-bending the elbows when the barbell is overhead, and disqualifications are made if the athlete is unstable under the bar and does not bring the feet back in line.

Not useful for bodybuilding, but a historical movement with plenty of interesting examples. Snatch-grip refers to the grip position where the barbell rests in the crease of the hips with the arms relaxed in a normal standing position.

Spot/Spotter: an individual watching you perform a lift with the purpose of helping you if you fail or get stuck. This is mostly used in the bench press due to the position you find yourself in during a failed lift – but may also be used in other exercises like a squat where they lift a small amount of the weight to allow you to complete the lift safely.

Steroids: see anabolic steroids.

Sticking Point: the portion of a lift or exercise where you fail or struggle the most. These are often the limitation of your exercise for weight or reps, where you are weakest or where the exercise is most challenging.

These can be directly trained with partial exercises or using a different exercise to strengthen the weak muscles or movement. Improving sticking points generally improves overall performance.

Strength: the ability to produce force – often measured against free weights or machines.

Strength isn’t essential for bodybuilding but develops along the way and is likely a key factor in just how safe you are during exercise. Strength directly reduces injury risk, improves long-term muscle development potential, and is a great secondary goal to focus on when you’re in the gym.

Strength Training: training that is directed at improving strength, placing muscle mass and other considerations second.

This is the preserve of athletes, powerlifters, and weightlifters for most purposes. Bodybuilding involves ‘accidental’ strength training since strength and mass development overlap – they both require mechanical tension and metabolic change in the muscles.

However, they’re separate goals and this distinction will become more clear as you progress. Beginners in powerlifting and bodybuilding both develop strength and size through similar methods.

Stretching: a form of movement aimed at improving flexibility and mobility. This is often used before and after training to relieve feelings of stiffness and address specific movement-limitations. 

Stretching can be broken down into static (where you sit in a single position) and dynamic (where you move through end-ranges). Dynamic is best, generally, and definitely before training. Static stretching should be directed towards specific feelings of stiffness and post-workout to help relax muscles.

Stretch Marks: the result of rapid weight loss or gain, where the skin is stretched beyond natural, resting state. This occurs during periods or rapid fat or muscle gain, especially in younger people during growth spurts where hormone-driven tissue growth outpaces normal skin development.

These often develop in areas like the chest and shoulders, inner thighs, or around the attachment of muscles (like the quads) after rapid development.

Striations: the visible layers and separations of muscle showing through the skin. This is an aspect of muscular definition and conditioning that comes with larger muscles and lower body fat levels.

This is where you begin to see the texture of muscles themselves through the skin due to lower bodyfat levels and larger muscles. They’re a factor in muscle definition and conditioning in bodybuilding and show up when flexing more clearly.

Super Set: a pair of exercises performed without rest between the first and second. For example, you might perform a bicep curl and, without rest, go straight into a tricep extension.

Supersets are often used between 2 agonists for the same movement (a row and bicep curl) or a pair of antagonists (such as a bicep curl and tricep extension). They are time-efficient, may improve antagonist function together, and build better control on a single joint when performed together.

Symmetry: the balance of the sides of the body relative to one another – both in terms of position and development.

Bodybuilding depends on the production of symmetry as a factor in aesthetics and the beauty of the body. Symmetry comes from proper rehabilitation of movement limitations, positional bias, and developing strength and muscle mass evenly on both sides.

This is a part of the overall development of the body and has a functional focus, often improving how you move and undoing postural issues.

Specialising: increasing your focus on a select training technique, set of exercises, or other factor.

Specifically, we use specialising to refer to dialling in your training to a select few exercises that offer the most ‘bang for your buck’. I talk about this often, focusing on the most effective exercises before worrying about variety or wacky variations.

Specialising may also refer to the process of increasing the specificity of your workouts over time. Bodybuilding training should move from more-general (full body workouts) to more-specific (push-pull, push-pull-legs, and body-part splits).

SARMs: Selective Androgen Receptor Modulators. A type of PED that has become more popular in recent years and has flown under the radar of many regulatory agencies – a common favourite in some of the ‘aesthetics’ communities.

Make no mistake: these are performance-enhancing drugs and emulate, in many ways, steroid use. They have a more precise set of effects in the body but are still significant health risks and should be treated seriously.

Skinny Fat: someone who is not overweight but still has low muscle-mass and (relatively) high fat mass.

These are often overlapped with hardgainers who are neither fat nor muscular, but simply inactive. These individuals are still at risk with a condition called ‘normal weight obesity’, referring to the stress placed on the body through high fat mass and low metabolic rate – due to inactivity or poor body composition.

Testosterone: the male sex hormone involved in determining a wide range of physical factors like muscle mass, fat mass, bone density, exercise recovery, and overall anabolic response.

This is the classic steroid and is the foundation for many, more-advanced derivative steroid compounds. Testosterone can be adjusted naturally through exercise, diet, and lifestyle – though it is also a common PED found in bodybuilding and sport performance.

Thick Skin: a general quality referring to the thickness of skin either due to genetic or conditioning purposes. In bodybuilding, reducing thickness of the skin is a key factor in the development of competitive condition to better-expose muscle definition and factors like striations.

This happens with steroid use, but also through effective dieting, improving activity levels, and adjusting lifestyle. This is, like so many factors, determined by hormonal environment and activities alike.

Tonnage: a reference to the amount of weight lifted in total across a certain time period, exercise, muscle group, or movement. 

Tonnage refers to a simple equation to get total-weight-lifted: reps * weight * sets. This give you a weight in kilos or lbs that should increase over time (if the exercises stay the same). Tonnage is a general concept that we want to keep increasing over time, adjusting for things like exercise selection and bodyweight change.

Top set: the heaviest or most-challenging set(s) of a workout, often with the lowest reps or the highest intensity. This is the most difficult and draining set that is used as the goal of warm-up sets and, after which, intensity is reduced to account for fatigue (drop sets).

Examples include one heavy set of 8, after which you reduce the load to 85%. Alternatively, 3 sets of 5 at a certain weight are all top sets – or working sets since they represent the planned work for the training session in that exercise.

Training Straps: lifting equipment that helps you hold the bar, primarily used in hand-intensive exercises where you’re not worried about grip. Often criticised for weak grip but have a strong role in bodybuilding training where you’re not competing in the movements themselves.

Important factors for proper volume-control and preparation for other types of strength and hypertrophy enthusiasts like powerlifters, strongmen, and weightlifters – for different reasons in each case!

Traps: the trapezius muscles are located between the upper back, shoulders, and neck. They’re some of the most important muscles on the body with upper and lower sections that focus on moving the shoulder blades, supporting upper back posture, and stabilising the neck itself.

These are trained through many types of exercise including vertical and horizontal pulling exercises, pressing overhead, deadlifts, and many others. They’re a crucial muscle group for building strength, an important silhouetting muscle, and key to a sweet rear double bicep pose – so don’t neglect the traps.

Tri Sets: like a superset but with 3 exercises without rest between them. You simply perform exercise 1, 2, then 3 and then rest. This reduces rest periods and can be used to rapidly improve the pump and stimulus you’re putting through muscles without taking up too much time.

Smart tri-sets use easier exercises or weights as they go to compensate for the onset of massive fatigue within each set.

5×5 training: a popular approach for strength and size training using 5 sets of 5 repetitions – usually of a compound exercise like squat, bench press, or row.

These are effective and simple sets-across workouts that progress session to session or week to week. These are popular among beginners because 5×5 (and 6×6, perhaps more so) offer a compromise between regular weight increases and consistent volume to drive muscle growth.

(Note: 5×5 is usually used for compound exercises that are progressively overloaded).

Unsaturated fat: fats that tend to be liquid at room temperature and contain higher quantities of double-bonds. These are usually oils, rather than waxes, and are directly healthy for the heart and brain, especially. 

They include health fats like Omega-3s and should arguably be the main form of fats in your diet – especially polyunsaturated fat. These make very little difference to body composition but help support your organs and longevity – which is always good.

Undertraining: any amount of training volume that is insufficient to either drive new progress or maintain the progress you’ve already made. See also detraining.

Vascularity: the veiny-ness of your physique. This is closely related to bodyfat and skin thickness, which can both be reduced through proper fat-loss dieting. 

Vascularity is also closely related to the activity you perform, shows up significantly during a pump, and depends on proper muscle mass development. Areas like bicep vein definition, for example, are common targets and rely on long-head development in the biceps.

Vascularity also has a genetic component and should be considered as a secondary goal for natural bodybuilders.

Vitamins: essential compounds that your body requires to support and maintain vital processes. Often tied into areas like the metabolism, protein folding, and hormonal wellbeing. Deficiencies in vitamins are a common source for illness, improper growth, or poor immune function. 

Vitamins play a supportive role in the bodybuilding process and are essential for health – primarily coming from high-quality whole foods (and especially seafood/plant foods).

Warm-up: any stretching or exercise performed before your prescribed sets in order to improve movement quality, reduce joint stiffness, and prepare you for your workout.

These are often split into stretching and warm-up sets. The latter are lighter sets using incrementally heavier weight to allow your body to practice the movement and, usually, improve performance on ‘top sets’.

Weight training: the use of weights and external resistance to improve the strength, size, and function of muscles. Can use free weights (see above) or machine resistance and is central to bodybuilding where muscle size and definition rely on consistent, progressive resistance training.

Secondarily improves bone, connective tissue, and metabolic health as well as improving aesthetics, proportions, and symmetry. Foundational to areas like endurance, power, and injury-resilience.