If you’re a beginner here and some of the words look foreign, this page will help you. These are mostly subjective terms and when I refer to them in my blog posts, the definitions seen below are what I will be referring to, therefore not necessarily the definitions used by other people.
Words in italics are also within the glossary.
Advanced – Someone who cannot progress in terms of strength on more than a quarterly basis, despite being in a small, consistent calorie surplus. This means it will take 3+ months to see noticeable strength gains in the gym, whilst being in a consistent calorie surplus the whole time. They may be able to gain 1-2 pounds of muscle per year.
Advanced Beginner – Someone who can progress in terms of strength every other workout or every week. Their first year of training will be an extremely anabolic period, and they will probably make over 50% of their lifetime gains in this first year.
BCAA’s – A popular, highly expensive supplement that will only benefit about 2% of the training population. If you are very lean, training multiple times per day and low body fat levels are of a high priority for you, then this may be useful.
Beginner – Someone who can progress in terms of strength every single workout. Their first year of training will be an extremely anabolic period, and they will probably make over 50% of their lifetime gains in this first year.
Body Composition – How much muscle and body fat you have. This is normally measured by body fat %. Most people forget that the more muscle you have, the lower your body fat % is (all things being equal).
Body Fat Settling Point – The body fat percentage in which your body is accustomed to (homeostasis). Moving this (settling point means it has to be a sustainable, long term change) requires slow, strategic changes. The faster you try to do something, the more your body will fight you. 97% of people lose. Once suffering exceeds a certain threshold, people lose control on their diets.
Body Recomposition – Someone who is attempting to lose fat and gain muscle at the same time. Unless you are an overweight beginner, or you are on a hefty dose of steroids, this is usually a terrible idea as it’s a very inefficient process. The body is better at focusing on one goal at a time.
Bulk – The goal of gaining muscle through eating at a calorie surplus.
Calorie Deficit – Eating less calories than your body needs to maintain its current weight. Every single person on the planet who truly eats at an energy deficit will lose weight. The vast majority will only maintain strength in a calorie deficit for up to a month maximum, once past the beginner stage.
Calorie Surplus – Eating more calories than your body needs to maintain its current weight. In order to stay lean whilst bulking, this calorie surplus will need to be very small, particularly if you are past the beginner stage. This required to gain strength, once past the beginner stage.
Carbs – These are your body’s primary source of fuel, and are crucial for maintaining and increasing strength. They also make you feel good, or at least prevent you from feeling bad when dieting.
Creatine – This is the one supplement that isn’t ripping most people off. It can genuinely help speed up beginner gains and help with recovery. Make sure that if you do get some, you buy the monohydrate version though. Other forms are a rip-off as they are virtually the same thing and certainly no better.
Cut – The goal of losing body fat through eating at a calorie deficit.
Frequency – The frequency in which someone trains. This could be measured by the number of training sessions per week, the number times a certain muscle group is hit per week or the number of times a certain movement has been trained per week.
Fat – These are important for hormonal regulation. However, carbs are also important for hormonal regulation and this gets forgotten. In the real world most of the time, people screw up their hormones by not eating enough carbs, rather than a lack of fat.
Happiness – Feeling positive emotions, and an absence of negative emotions.
My definition is different to mainstream Psychology, which splits off Subjective Well-Being (SWB) which is essentially short term happiness, from Life Satisfaction which is basically long term happiness. Satisfaction isn’t as intense, but it’s positive nonetheless. It’s also a consistent source of positivity, especially the older you get.
Negative emotions are only good if they teach you something and you learn from it, however the older you are, the less likely negative emotions will be useful. You do not want to be unhappy for extended periods of time, these emotions need to be short-lasting. There is nothing noble or praiseworthy about consistent unhappiness, despite what old school right-wing societal conditioning will have you believe. Consistent negative emotions are completely unnecessary (unless you’re raising young kids, and even then there is a limit).
For those of you who are full of left-wing societal conditioning (which is rapidly on the rise unfortunately), realise that finding a meaningful purpose that provides you with fulfilment, giving to others and helping others in need are all huge components of long term happiness. These bring consistent positive emotions, not suffering. Happiness (by my definition) is not some short term, greed-driven, materialistic desire.
Health – The ability of your mind and body to perform to its peak abilities.
HIIT – (High Intensity Interval Training) is a form of very high intensity cardio (normally sprinting or some variation). This can have fairly strong metabolic effects but the chance of injury and neural burnout goes significantly higher the more your perform this. Its risks often outweigh its rewards.
Intensity – The percentage of your 1RM you are lifting. This is essentially how heavy the weight feels to you. This is measured on a scale of 0-100%. There is a minimum threshold of intensity required to stimulate significant gains in the real world (where time is limited), and this figure is approximately 70%. If you go below this, you could be in the gym all day.
Intermediate – Someone who can no longer progress in terms of strength every week, yet still make noticeable strength gains more often than every quarter, when in a consistent calorie surplus.
LISS – (Low Intensity Steady State) is a form of low intensity cardio. This is excellent for recovery, fat burning and general health. You are incredibly unlikely to get injured or add extra stress to your weight training (and therefore overtrain).
Maintenance – Eating the amount of calories your body needs to maintain its current weight. This is very useful for transitional stages. If you have just recently lowered your body fat settling point for example, eating at maintenance calories is a wise choice, and allows your body and brain to adapt.
Pre-Workouts – Supplements that give you extra stimulation during your workouts due to their caffeine content. These are very expensive usually and people would receive virtually the same benefit by purchasing caffeine tablets. You can about 1 years supply for £5.
In the long term, it doesn’t seem like pre-workouts actually provide any extra benefit. I suspect this is due to the additional neural stress (and therefore decreased recovery) offsetting the additional training stimulus.
Progressive Overload – The most important principle of weight training that forces you to adapt to new stimuli and consequently get bigger and stronger, assuming you recover. This means a calorie surplus and sufficient sleep (8-9 hours for most) are required to progress in absolute strength terms.
Successful progressive overload = you becoming bigger and stronger.
Volume is often overly focused upon in the weight training world, as most people tend to hit the minimal volume requirements yet fail to progress consistently. Focusing on volume excessively also tends to put people in a mindset that encourages unnecessary injuries that will damage their long term health and body composition.
Protein – The building blocks for muscle growth. If you fail to eat enough protein, you will miss out on muscle gains. However, due to ingenious, powerful brainwashing from the supplement industry, people hugely over-estimate the amount of protein required. The actual amount of protein you need is WAY lower than you think.
Protein Powder – Another huge waste of money, unless you are a genuinely busy guy who doesn’t have the time to cook. Time is money. But, most people have more than enough time to cook for themselves.
The only other time this may be useful is if you are already lean and are trying to get stage lean, in order to compete for a physique or bodybuilding contest. This is about 2% of the training population.
RPE – (Rate Of Perceived Exertion) is something that measures the difficulty of a particular set, specifically how hard the last rep was. This is a scale from 1 to 10. 10 means failure. 9 means you had 1 more rep etc. I recommend for most people to use RPE 9 most of the time. This means you will definitely be receiving enough of a stimulus, and your workout are likely to be more time efficient.
Societal Conditioning – This is a process that starts from the day you are born. You are conditioned to serve those in power, not yourself. Those in power seek to maintain the power and control they have, therefore your interests are not their priority, despite what they SAY. This is nothing evil usually, and it’s part of human nature where there is and always has been, a hierarchy. This conditioning can often be very, very subtle.
It’s really important if you value your happiness (which you should!) that you take control of your own life and realise where you have been brainwashed for so many years.
Most of what you’ve been told is rubbish. This applies to lots of things. It applies to relationship advice (take women out on expensive dates as soon as you meet them, buy them flowers, shower them with compliments, be their servants etc), financial advice (you must go to uni and rack up a load of debt, buy a big house that you can’t afford, have loads of kids you can’t afford), and it certainly applies to health and fitness too!
In the health & fitness world, societal conditioning is a cause of great confusion and wasted money. Guys, be extremely careful when thinking about supplements and stop getting screwed over by these companies.
The industry has a lot of advertising (brainwashing) power and has indoctrinated the lot of you by playing on your in-built desire to look a certain way. Many YouTubers and Bodybuilders are regularly paid a lot of money to recommend certain products which are virtually useless 99% of the time. They are often very expensive. Stop wasting your money!
Even more importantly, many studies are also extremely biased and have financial incentives. Read carefully.
Volume – Defined as sets*reps*weight on the bar. However, this only becomes useful if the minimal intensity threshold is met (70%). Most people perform enough volume to progress, but fail to incorporate sufficient rates of progressive overload for their individual level of training experience.
Whilst progressive overload determines whether or not you make gains, volume determines the speed of these gains. If you are on the lower end of the volume range, you will make slower progress. If you are on the higher end, you make faster progress, but you will also run a higher risk of injury. Be careful with this.