Training Terms 101: Understanding Reps, Sets & More

Health and fitness has its own set of terms used to describe its ‘way of life’. Of course, this can be confusing and even intimidating. Only fitness enthusiasts previously knew what it meant when someone was raving about the HITT in their WOD (Workout Of The Day). “Want to join the new HITT class?” “What’s your drop set?”

Workout regimes are full of fitness jargon. You may have heard some fitness terminology, whether new to the fitness scene or a seasoned athlete. However, knowing what these terms mean will benefit your workouts. Below are some of the most popular training terms you need to know.

That’s a Rep

Reps – short for repetitions - are when you perform one full movement of an exercise from start to finish. For example, one pull-up is one rep, and ten pull-ups are ten reps. There is a debate on whether to focus on reps or sets when it comes to effectively training, but it depends on your goals. If you are training light weights, more reps are ideal. On the other hand, if you are training heavy weights, a low-rep style is ideal.

It is essential to know it is different for everyone and a way to determine how many reps you should feel challenged with the number of repetitions.


Setting your Set

A set is a collection of reps. Sets tell you how many times you will repeat a particular number of repetitions of a given exercise. Let’s say you are doing pull-ups. Two sets of 10 reps mean you'll perform ten pull-ups twice total, resting between rounds. In total, you'll be doing 20 pull-ups.

Determining the number of sets, you should complete is the same as determining reps. It’s all about challenging yourself. However, training two to six sets for each exercise (10-15 reps) is recommended.


Hit the HITT

HITT stands for High-Intensity Interval Training. It generally consists of several rounds that alternate between several minutes of high-intensity movements to increase your heart rate to at least 80% of your maximum heart rate, followed by short periods of lower-intensity movements to bring your heart rate back down.

HIIT is an effective training option to increase endurance and strength in those with limited training time.


Try the Tri-Set

Tri-Sets are combinations of three different movements performed consecutively with little to no rest between the movements. The three movements can either work the same muscle group or work opposite muscle groups. Research has shown that tri-set training increases intensity, muscle damage, and metabolic response to training.

Here is how Tri-sets can ideally look:

  • Perform movement 1, then rest for 10 seconds
  • Perform movement 2, then rest for 10 seconds
  • Perform movement 3, rest for 2-4 minutes and repeat the whole tri-set as needed!


Superhero Supersets

Supersets are combinations of movements performed consecutively with no rest in between the sets and can be performed on the same muscle group or different groups, depending on your goals. Supersets can be used to do more movements in a shorter time frame. While your muscles recover from one set, you perform another movement targeting a different muscle rather than taking a break. You can switch back to the first movement to perform another set and continue with that pattern until you have completed your training, need a break, or are fatigued.

Starting slowly is key. Especially if you are a beginner, try rotating muscle groups – for example, an upper body set followed immediately by a lower body set.


Hop on the Drop set

Drop sets are advanced resistance training techniques. The technique is that you focus on completing a set until failure. Once you cannot do another rep, you have a small rest, lighten the load by 10-30% and go again. This maximises muscle gain as your body goes through mechanical and metabolic fatigue. This type of training is not for beginners as it can lead to injury without the proper technique.

The drop sets technique can be used in all kinds of movements; however, starting out, you should use your strongest muscles, such as your biceps.


More LISS Cardio

LISS stands for Low-Intensity Steady-State. This type of training is ideal for anyone and everyone. It is the opposite kind of training to HITT. LISS has many benefits as it can help lower the risk of high blood pressure, stroke, obesity and diabetes. It can also improve muscle strength, aerobic fitness, mental health, cognitive function, and sleep without placing too much pressure on your heart.

The goal is to find a pace you are comfortable with. Aim to spend 20 to 30 minutes on a LISS workout if you're starting out. Some examples are swimming laps for 20 minutes, jumping rope for 15 minutes or walking 3 km in 30 minutes.

To Sum Up

There’s a lot to know and keep up with since new terms often emerge as different training styles are developed, but these are the most commonly used terms. By removing linguistic anxiety, you will be more ready to take on new workout regimes. Learning a bunch of movements is not as valuable as learning how to implement them. Your training is essential for your overall health, so it’s vital that you understand what you’re doing and why. This way, you can reach your goals faster.

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