Glossary of Bodybuilding Terms
Set — A group of consecutive repetitions of an exercise that are performed without resting.
Shoulder girdle – The ring of bones (actually an incomplete ring) at your shoulder that provides an attachment point for the many muscles that allow your shoulder and elbow joints to move.
Single-joint exercise — See isolation exercise.
Six-pack — A slang term used to refer to defined abdominal muscles. The term is used because most people’s abdominal muscles create six bulges (three per side) when they are well developed and body fat levels are low.
Skeletal muscle – Also called striated muscle, this type of muscle is attached to your skeleton and is under voluntary control. Contracting your skeletal muscle allows you to move your body under control.
Slow-twitch muscle fiber — A type of muscle fiber that has high endurance capacity and poor ability to generate quick, powerful contractions.
Smith machine – A common piece of gym equipment made up of a barbell constrained within sets of parallel steel rails that allow the motion of the bar only in a limited vertical direction.
Smooth muscle – A type of muscle found in the walls of all the hollow organs of your body which is not under voluntary control.
Somatotype -Term referring to an individual’s body characteristics including such things as muscle size, bone size, bodyfat level, and physical personality.
Soreness – The mild pain felt in muscles after a workout, it is primarily caused by a buildup of lactic acid, and usually appears 12 to 24 hours after exercising.
Spinal Erectors – Two long, snake-like muscles located at the center of the lower back. The spinal erectors help maintain posture by keeping the upper body perpendicular with the floor.
Split routine — A training program in which the body is divided into segments and trained more than three times per week, as most beginners do. The most basic split routine is done four days per week. The most popular type of split routine involves dividing the body into three parts, which are worked over three consecutive days, followed by a rest day and a repeat of the routine on day five. This is called a three-on and one-off split.
Sponges – Sponges are used to protect the hands from blisters and callouses. Many bodybuilders find sponges more convenient to work with than gloves.
Spotter — A training partner or a person who gives assistance to a lifter while the lifter is performing an exercise. The purpose of the spotter is to be on hand in case the lifter fails to complete a rep. In this case, the spotter can help the lifter complete the rep, which allows the lifter to train past muscle failure as well as avoid injury on dangerous exercises such as the bench press.
Stabilizer muscles — Muscles that assist in the performance of an exercise by steadying the joint or limb being moved but not increasing the force applied to move the weight. One of the disadvantages of using machines rather than free weights for training is that many machines take over the task of stabilizing the movement, so that the stabilizing muscles are not trained to nearly the extent that they would have been with free weights.
Staggered grip — A grip in which the left and right hand have opposite styles of grip. One hand uses an underhand grip while the other uses an overhand grip. This is a common grip used during the deadlift because the alternated gripping allows for stronger grip strength.
Static stretch — A low-force, long-duration stretch that holds the desired muscle at the greatest possible length for 20 to 30 seconds.
Steroids – Synthetic derivatives of the hormone testosterone that allow the user to gain muscle mass and strength more rapidly. In addition to their muscle-building effects, steroids (anabolic) increase the oxidation rate of fat, thus giving the user a more “ripped” appearance.
Sticking point — The point in an exercise where the muscle is at its weakest.
Straps – Long, narrow pieces of material used to increase one’s gripping power on an exercise. Straps are wrapped around the lower forearm and bar in such a manner that as the user grips the bar, the straps get tighter. They are used on such exercises as deadlifts, shrugs, and chins.
Strength training – A form of resistance training in which your aim is to build the strength of your skeletal muscle.
Stretching – Form of exercise where the primary goal is to increase flexibility. Stretching is also an excellent way to warm up the body and prepare it for more stressful forms of exercise.
Stretch Marks – Red or purple lines caused by thinning and loss of elasticity in the skin. In most cases the marks are the result of rapid muscle growth, but gaining large amounts of fat can also cause them. The most common site for stretch marks on bodybuilders is the pec-delt tie-in. There is no effective means of prevention or treatment.
Striations — Fine grooves or bands on the surface of a muscle. The grooves are caused by the molecular machinery of the muscle fibers that are visible through the skin in ripped bodybuilders.
Strict Form – Training technique which involves performing exercises in a slow, controlled manner, and through a full range of motion, without the aid of a partner or cheating techniques.
Supersets – Advanced training technique whereby two exercises are performed consecutively without any rest. Supersets may consist of exercises for the same muscle group (eg. dumbbell curls and barbell curls) or exercises for different muscle groups (eg. triceps extensions and biceps curls). If performing supersets for different muscle groups, bodybuilders usually pick opposing muscle groups (triceps-biceps, quads-hamstrings, chest-back, etc).
Supinated Grip – A grip on the bar when your palms are facing up towards you. This is most commonly known as a reverse grip. In this grip, your thumbs are pointing outwards and away from each other. For example, a close grip chin using a reverse grip (palms up) is an exercise that uses a supinated grip.
Supination — Rotating the wrist outward. Technique in which the palms start off facing the body during a dumbbell curl and rotate outward as the dumbbell is raised. In fact supination refers to any movement in which a limb rotates away from the center of the body.
Supine — Lying horizontally on the back.
Supplements – Any form of vitamin, mineral, protein, or other nutrient taken separate from, or in addition to, the regular diet. Supplements come in many forms, including tablet, capsule, power, oil, or plant material.
Symmetry – In bodybuilding terms this refers to the overall look to the body in addition to its true meaning of right-left similarity. Symmetry is closely related to proportion.
Synergist — A muscle that assists in the performance of an exercise by adding to the force required for executing the movement. For example, the triceps muscle is a synergist to the pectoralis muscles during the bench press exercise.
Tendinitis – Form of inflammation involving tendons and the points at which they attach to muscles and bones. Tendinitis is usually caused by overstressing a particular area. Bodybuilders often get tendinitis in the biceps-tendon region.
Tendon — A band of dense white fibrous tissue that connects a muscle to a bone. The movement of the bone is produced by the trans-mission offeree from the muscle through the tendon to the bone.
Testosterone — The primary natural androgenic and anabolic steroid hormone produced primarily by the testes in the male. It is also produced in smaller quantities by the adrenal glands in both males and females. Testosterone is the hormone responsible for maintenance of muscle mass and strength as well as the development of secondary male sexual characteristics such as a deep voice, body and facial hair, and male pattern baldness.
Trace Minerals – Minerals which are needed by the body in minute amounts, usually in the order of micrograms, such as chromium, copper, cobalt, silicon, selenium, iron and zinc.
Training Diary – Daily journal or record kept by bodybuilders. Diaries are useful for keeping track of such items as weight, exercises, sets, reps, calories and overall motivation levels.
Training log — A log that a lifter keeps for recording workouts. The information recorded usually includes exercises performed, weight used, number of sets performed, number of reps completed per set, amount of rest taken between sets, how the lifter felt during or after exercises, and what the lifter ate before and after the workout. This information helps the lifter assess progress and stay motivated to reach goals.
Training partner — A person who trains with you on the majority of your training days.
Training to Failure – Any time you refuse to terminate a set until the muscle simply cannot contract for additional reps, you are training to failure. Most bodybuilders train to positive failure and then have a training partner help them perform a few extra reps.
Traps — A slang term for the trapezius muscles.
Triceps – Extensor muscles of the upper arm. The triceps are composed of three heads that work in opposition to the biceps – they extend the lower arm and straighten the elbow.
Tris — A slang term referring to the triceps muscles.
Trisets – Similar to supersets but involving the use of three different exercises for the same muscle group.