Glossary of Terms Relevant to Bodybuilding
Olympic Barbell – The most specialized barbell in weightlifting. Olympic barbells weigh 45 pounds and are made from spring steel.
Olympic weightlifting — The type of weightlifting contested at the Olympic Games every four years as well as at national and international competitions each year. Olympic lifting involves two lifts: the snatch and the clean and jerk.
Origin — The point of attachment of a muscle closest to the body’s midline, or center.
Overhand grip — This type of grip, also known as a pronated grip, involves grabbing the bar with the palms down and the knuckles on the front or the top of the bar. An example is the grip used for the reverse barbell curl or shrug.
Overload – Term used to describe the degree of stress placed on a muscle. To overload means to continuously increase the amount of resistance that a muscle has to work against. For bodybuilders the stress is in the form of weight.
Overreaching — Scientific term used to describe exercise training that pushes the body beyond its limits to recover and adapt. This usually involves training with too much volume, too much intensity, too much frequency, or all of these. Overreaching is the stage that occurs just before the athlete becomes overtrained. If an athlete stops overreaching in time, the athlete can avoid the deleterious effects of overtraining and actually rebound with rapid advances in strength and muscle mass.
Overtraining — When an athlete overreaches for too long, he or she reaches the point of overtraining. Chronically exceeding the body’s ability to recover by overreaching causes the body to stop progressing and actually lose some of the gains that were made in strength and muscle mass. Besides impairing athletic performance, overtraining can increase the risk of injury or disease. The early signs of overtraining from too much weight include increased resting heart rate, difficulty in sleeping, increased sweating, and altered emotions. The early signs of overtraining from lifting too much volume or too often include decreased resting heart rate, digestion problems, fatigue, and lower blood pressure.
Passive stretching — This type of stretching involves having a partner assist in moving joints through their ranges of motion. This allows for a greater range of motion than what can be reached when stretching alone.
Peak — The absolute zenith of competitive condition achieved by an athlete. This can mean the degree of sharpness or shape held by a particular muscle (usually the biceps), or it may refer to the shape a bodybuilder holds on a given contest day. A bodybuilder who has “peaked” is in top condition (i.e. full, vascular muscles and a low body fat percentage).
Pecs — A slang term that refers to the pectoralis muscles.
Periodization — The systematic manipulation of the acute variables of training over a period that may range from days to years. An approach to training planning that involves alternating cycling activities, loads, and intensities over a defined period of time, usually to prepare for optimum fitness for an event. It is a preparation technique used by elite athletes for competition or the start of a season.
Phosphocreatine (PCr) — An energy-rich compound that plays a critical role in providing energy for muscle action by maintaining ATP concentration.
Plantar flexion — Moving the top of the foot away from the shin, such as when pointing the toes down for heel raises.
Plateau – A state of training during which no progress is being made. Plateaus usually occur after long periods of repetitious training. Breaking the condition involves shocking the muscles with new training techniques.
Plyometrics – Exercises involving repeated rapid stretching and contracting of muscles to increase muscle power; also called jump training.
Posing – The art of displaying the physique in a bodybuilding contest. Posing consists of mandatory poses used to compare contestants and free posing, where the individual combines favorite poses to highlight strong points, de-emphasize weak body parts and let their personality show through.
Positive phase of repetition — The concentric portion of the repetition. Examples of the positive phase include the pressing of the barbell off the chest during the bench press and the curling up of the weight during a barbell curl.
Posterior chain – The muscles of the rear side of the body, including the glutes, hamstrings, calves, and lower-back muscles.
Poundage – Another term used to describe the weight of a barbell, dumbbell, or machine weight stack.
Power – The ability to exert maximal force in minimum time; the speed with which you can perform a lift. Muscular power incorporates speed with the movement and equals the force generated times velocity.
Powerlifting — A form of competitive weightlifting that features three lifts: the squat, bench press, and deadlift. Powerlifting is contested both nationally and internationally in a variety of weight and age classes for both men and women.
Preexhaust — The use of single-joint exercises before multi-joint exercises in an effort to exhaust a particular muscle group so that it becomes the weak link in the multi-joint exercise.
Primary exercise — An exercise that is most specific to the goals of the lifter. These exercises must involve the muscle groups in which the person is most interested in gaining strength.
Pronated Grip – A grip on the bar when your palms are facing down and away from you. In this grip your thumbs are pointing inwards to each other. For example, a close grip pull-down to front is an exercise that uses a pronated grip.
Pronation — Rotating the wrist inward.
Prone – Lying horizontally on the abdomen.
Proportion – Term used to describe the size of one muscle with respect to the whole body. A bodybuilder with good “proportions” would have all his/her muscles in balance with regards to muscle size.
Protein – Nutrient composed of long chains of amino acids. Protein is primarily used in the production of muscle tissue, hormones, and enzymes.
Pump — A term commonly used by bodybuilders to refer to the swelling that muscles undergo during a workout. The pump occurs because when muscles contract repeatedly they create metabolic waste products that draw water into the muscle. The greater water volume increases the overall size of the muscle cells. This can lead to temporary increases in total muscle size of one to two inches. The pump typically lasts until the metabolic waste products have been cleared from the muscle.
Pyramiding – Training technique whereby weight is added for the first couple of sets and then decreased for the remaining sets. Bodybuilders may also perform a half-pyramid technique where the weight is only added or decreased for the given number of sets.