Tuesday, November 3, 2015

What the Heck Does That Mean? Some Basic Fitness and Nutrition Terms Defined

Do you ever get confused by all the fitness and nutrition jargon out there?

I was corresponding with a Regular Guy the other day who remarked that he likes the blog because it's approachable and not intimidating. And that got me thinking: I do throw around a lot of terminology that I assume everybody is comfortable with.

Maybe you are -- and I don't mean to insult your intelligence. But maybe you don't know what VO2 max, or fartlek, or HIIT means.

You won't find many of these terms here!

So I thought I'd lay out some definitions, at least to the best of my ability and knowledge. Here goes!

1RM: Short for one-rep-max, or the heaviest weight you could possibly lift in a given exercise, if you had to do it just once. Good for calculating how much you should be lifting in general.

BMR: Basal metabolic rate is your body's minimum amount of caloric output to continue your existence -- in other words, how many calories you'd burn sitting on the couch all day.

Bodyweight: Using your own mass as resistance for strength training. Pushups, squats, planks, etc.

Bro Science: Wisdom straight from the pages of Men's Fitness, T-Nation and various other non-Regular Guy sites. It's easy to spot -- lots of specific advice without any scientific citation. If you can imagine the Planet Fitness "lunkhead" from those old ads saying it, it's Bro Science.

Cardio: Cardio, or cardiovascular exercise, is shorthand for a workout that doesn't involve resistance training and is intended primarily to tax your aerobic systems. Running, biking, swimming, the elliptical, etc. are all cardio.

CICO: That's an acronym for calories in, calories out. Your body burns X number of calories. If you are trying to lose weight, you have to consume less than that.

Core: I wrote a full post on this back in March. People differ on exactly which muscles make up your core, but everyone agrees that it is the base of your body, the part that provides stability -- akin to the foundation of a house. I think of the core as everything from the top of your abs to about where your boxers fall on your legs, all the way around (and through) your body.

EPOC: You'll hear advocates of HIIT talk about EPOC, or Excess Post-Exercise Oxygen Consumption. The slang term is afterburn. When you exercise, your metabolism doesn't return to its BMR immediately -- you continue to burn more calories. You know, because your heart rate is still elevated.

Fartlek: Swedish for "run-play," fartleks are an easy way to work interval training into your running without a track or treadmill. You simply pick up your pace multiple times throughout a run, hold it for a minute or two, then slow back down to a comfortable pace. The time, distance and frequency is more or less up to you.

Foot Strike: What part of your foot hits the ground when you run? Most beginning runners are heel strikers -- meaning they land heel first with each stride. Many remain so their whole lives. Others -- including most elites -- are mid-foot strikers, meaning the whole foot lands pretty much flat. There is much disagreement on how important foot strike is. My opinion is that heel striking is likely a symptom of a problem, not a problem itself.

HIIT: An acronym for High Intensity Interval Training. This is a specific exercise routine that involves short bursts of energy followed by periods of rest. Often, though not always, it involves a bodyweight routine.

Macros: Food falls into three basic macronutrients: Protein, fat and carbohydrates. That's all. How much of each one you consume depends on your goals and your activity level. If you're looking to build muscle, you need more protein. If you're looking to fuel endurance training, carbs are the way to go. And fat helps your body regulate your metabolism.

Micros: These are what you think of when you think of vitamins -- vitamin C, calcium, riboflavin, etc. Even if you're getting your macros right, you still need to get your micros on target.

Resistance Training: In short, muscle building. Generally, we're talking about lifting weights -- even if that means using a machine. But it also includes bodyweight exercises designed to strengthen muscles.

TDEE: Total daily energy expenditure is not quite the same as BMR. This is how many calories you burn in an average day without any additional exercise. It accounts for stuff like walking around the office, standing at the stove cooking dinner, and so forth. Because it provides a more accurate picture of your actual metabolism, many experts prefer it when working out a fitness and nutrition plan.

Thermic Effect: You burn calories by digesting food -- this is called the thermic effect. You'll burn about four percent of your carb calories, 9 percent of your fat calories and 20 percent of your protein calories. A little extra good news: You'll burn 13 percent of the calories from alcohol.

VO2 Max: Short for volume of oxygen, this is the maximum amount of oxygen your muscles can use in one minute. It corresponds closely with your heart rate. It's not the fastest you can possibly go, but the fastest you can go without sucking wind. Once you surpass the amount of oxygen your muscles can use, you are exercising anaerobically and will tire quickly.

What fitness jargon leaves your head spinning? Get the conversation going in the comments below, on Twitter or on Facebook!

1 comment:

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