Dictionary of Weightlifting, Bodybuilding and Exercise Terms and Techniques
Cable pulley machine – A resistance training machine in which various attachments, such as a bar, handle, or rope, can be linked to weights by a metal cable. The force for moving the weight is transferred via a pulley or system of pulleys. These machines are designed to offer many exercise options while providing continual resistance throughout the full range of motion of the exercise.
Cable crossovers – An exercise using a machine with resistant cables that are pulled forward and crossed over the chest.
Cables – Long wire cords attached to weight stacks at one end and a hand grip at the other. Cable exercises keep tension on the working muscle throughout a full range of motion.
Caloric deficit – A situation in which you are burning more calories than you consume, leading to a weight loss.
Caloric surplus – A situation in which you are consuming more calories than you burn, leading to a weight gain.
Calorie – A unit of measurement of energy in food.
Calves – Also called “lowers” and “bodybuilding’s diamonds,” the calves consist of the soleus and gastrocnemius muscles, located on the backs of the lower leg bones. The calves are similar to the forearms in that they are composed of extremely dense muscle tissue. Their function is to flex the ankles.
Carbohydrates – A group of organic compounds, including sugar, starch, and cellulose. An essential part of your diet, carbohydrates are the most common source of energy in living things.
Carbohydrate Loading – The practice of depleting and replenishing the body’s glycogen levels in the weeks leading up to a bodybuilding contest. This technique allows bodybuilders to saturate their muscles with stored water, thus making the muscles appear fuller and harder.
Cardio — See aerobic exercise.
Catabolism – Tending to break down tissue, muscle tissue in particular.
Chalk — Also known as magnesium carbonate, it is often used by powerlifters and Olympic lifters to keep the hands dry for a more secure grip on the weights.
Cheating — The condition in which strict form is ignored in order to get a few additional reps out of a set. Cheating is not generally recommended because it can lead to injury. However, it can sometimes help a lifter push the muscles beyond muscle failure. An example of cheating would be forcibly swinging the upper body to help complete a standing biceps curl.
Chest – The large pectoral muscles located on the front of the upper torso, responsible for drawing the arms forward and in toward the center of the body.
Cholesterol – Naturally occurring steroid molecule involved in the formation of hormones, vitamins and bile salts, and in the transport of fats in the bloodstream to tissues throughout the body. Excessive cholesterol in the diet can lead to cardiovascular disease.
Circuit Training – A specialized form of weight training which combines strength training and aerobic conditioning. Circuit training consists of performing 10 to 20 different exercises, one after the other, with little rest between sets.
Collar – Small, round, iron or plastic clamp, used to anchor plates on a barbell or dumbbell. In most cases collars are screwed on, but some versions are held in a spring-like manner.
Compound exercise — An exercise that involves more than one muscle group to perform the exercise. Therefore, movement occurs at more than one joint. For this reason, compound exercises are often called multi-joint exercise. These types of exercises are the best choices for developing strength. Examples are the squat, bench press, and barbell row.
Conjugated linoleic acid (CLA) – A particular structural variant of linoleic acid (a common unsaturated fatty acid). Several studies exist supporting a potential health benefit of conjugated linoleic acid (CLA). No studies suggest that it will aid muscle growth or fat loss. It is food, certainly better than some other fat sources, but treat it accordingly.
Cool-down — Low-intensity exercise performed at the end of a high-intensity workout. The purpose of the cool-down is to allow the body’s systems (cardiovascular, respiratory, metabolic, and so on) that were used during the workout to gradually return to resting levels.
Core — The superficial and deep muscles of the abdominals and low back that stabilize the spine and help to prevent back injuries as well as enhance greater overall strength.
Cortisol – Catabolic hormone released by the body in response to stress (of which exercise is one form). Cortisol speeds up the rate at which large units are broken down into smaller units (catabolism), and increases fat storage.
Creatine – Naturally occurring in muscle tissue, creatine functions as a secondary reservoir for short-term energy to be drawn upon when ATP (adenosine triphosphate) stores—the energy storage molecule that drives muscular contraction–are depleted. Supplemental creatine monohydrate added to the diet will increase the concentration of creatine phosphate within muscle tissue which may increase one’s ability to perform brief, high-intensity exercise.
Cross-training — Participation in two or more sports or activities that can improve performance in each and help an athlete achieve a higher level of fitness. Examples are strength training and football.
Cutting — The process of dieting in an effort to shed all visible body fat to emphasize the individual muscles.
Cycle Training – Form of training in which high-intensity workouts are alternated with those of low intensity. The technique can be applied weekly or yearly.
Decline Bench – Bench used to work the lower and outer pectorals. Decline benches require the user to place his or her head at the low end and feet at the upper end of the bench.
Definition — Visibility of the shape and detail of individual muscles. This occurs in people with low body fat.
Dehydration – Biological state in which the body has insufficient water levels for proper functioning. Since the human body is over 90 percent water, athletes must continuously replenish any water lost during intense exercise.
Delayed-onset muscle soreness (DOMS) — Muscle soreness that develops a day or two after a heavy bout of exercise.
Delts — A slang term referring to the deltoid muscles.
Density – Term used to describe the amount of muscle mass carried by a bodybuilder. It generally refers to muscle thickness and hardness.
Descending Sets – An advanced-training technique involving the removal of weight at the completion of a set, and the performing of additional reps with the lighter weight.
Diet – A term that refers to a fixed eating pattern. In general usage it usually means to try and lose weight.
DOMS — See delayed-onset muscle soreness.
Dorsiflexion — Moving the top of the foot upward and toward the shin.
Down-the-Rack Training – An advanced training technique involving the use of two or three successively lighter dumbbells during the performance of one set.
Dumbbell – Short bar on which plates are secured. Dumbbells can be considered the one-arm version of a barbell. In most gyms, the weight plates are welded on, and the poundage is written on the dumbbell.