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Fitness Glossary

Fitness Glossary

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Abdominals or "abs" - The collective name for the muscles on the front of the torso, below the chest. Swimming, rowing and Nordic skiing work these muscles.

Abductors - Muscles of the hip that pull your legs apart. Gluteus medius and minimus pull your legs outward. Inline skating, skiing and dance work these muscles.

Adductors - Muscles of the inner thigh that pull your legs together. They attach the pelvis and the femur (or thigh bone). You use these muscles when inline skating, skate skiing or swimming the breaststroke.

Aerobic - Literally, "with oxygen." Aerobic exercise is the body's process of producing energy with oxygen in the bloodstream. Byproducts are carbon dioxide and water (breathing and perspiration). It's great for burning fat and strengthening your heart and lungs.

Anaerobic - Literally, "without oxygen." In anaerobic exercise, energy is produced without oxygen, usually because the exercise intensity is such that the heart and lungs can't get enough oxygen to the muscles. Anaerobic exercise creates a byproduct called lactate, which builds up in the muscles and causes soreness and fatigue.

Antioxidants - Substances such as Vitamins A, C and E and minerals such as copper, magnesium and zinc. Believed to destroy free radicals, which some scientists think may not only accelerate aging but also contribute to the formation of cancers and cataracts.

Asana - The term for any of the many poses done in yoga.


Ballistic stretching - A kind of stretching that advocates bouncing to increase the amount of stretch. This is no longer recommended as it has been found to cause muscle tears and soreness.

Barbell - Weights attached to a long bar which requires both hands to pick up.

Bicep - The muscle running along the inside of the upper arm which bends your arm at the elbow. Paddling a canoe (and a kayak, to some degree) exercises your biceps.

Biomechanics - The study of the mechanics of muscular activity.

Board-lasted - Shoe construction featuring a piece of stiff fiberboard glued to the upper and then to the mid- and outsole. These shoes offer a lot of stability and motion control, appropriate for the over-pronater. Learn how to choose running shoes.

Body fat - The percentage of your body mass that is not composed of lean muscle, water, bones or vital organs.

Burnout - State of being bored or tired with exercise, frequently the result of overtraining or unvaried workouts. Cross-training and rest are good remedies for burnout.


Cadence - The beat, time or measure of rhythmic motion or activity such as pedaling a bicycle. Your cadence is the speed of your pedaling.

Cardiovascular - Relating to or involving the heart and blood vessels.

Complex carbohydrates - Starches, such as grains, breads, rice, pasta, vegetables and beans. They get their name from their complex, chainlike structure. During digestion, starches are typically broken down into sugars and used by the body for energy. Complex carbohydrates offer you more sustained energy levels than simple carbohydrates.

CoolMax® - DuPont CoolMax® is a high-performance polyester. It uses DuPont's proprietary Dacron® fibers to move sweat away from the body to the outer layer of the fabric, where it can evaporate quickly. Learn how to choose fitness clothing.

Cool-down - Slowing down at the end of a workout to allow your body temperature and heart rate to decrease gradually.

Creatinine - A proteinlike substance manufactured by your muscles (but also found in some meats) that has been found to increase athletic performance and delay fatigue. Gives the muscles strength and a greater ability to do high-intensity exercise such as sprinting. Also helps buffer the lactic acid that accumulates during high-intensity exercise.

Cross-training - Mixing different activities into your regular workout routine to avoid overuse injuries and to prevent boredom. Cycling, running and swimming are 3 common activities used to cross-train different muscle groups.

Curved last - Shoe construction with a curved sole. This shape provides cushioning and promotes inward motion. Good for feet with rigid, high arches that underpronate. Learn how to choose running shoes.


Dehydration - The abnormal depletion of body fluids, easily detected by dark, concentrated urine. Prevented by drinking water or sports drinks before, during and after exercise. When you are fully hydrated, urine is plentiful, pale and odorless.

Deltoids or "delts" - The triangular, 3-part muscles that wrap around the tops of the shoulders. They allow you to raise your arms forward, backward and out to the sides, and also rotate them inward and outward. Rowing, rock climbing and swimming work the deltoids.

Diet - A regiment of foods eaten to obtain a goal. Some diets consist of just changes to what you eat, while some other diets require specialty food. You can save money on these diets by using things such as Medifast coupons.

Dumbbell - weights attached to a short bar that can be held in one hand. Often used in pairs.

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