Emily Skye, wearing a teal two-piece workout outfit, holds her hands up in mock frustration.
Emily Skye

Workout vocab: all the fitness words you need to know

Emily Skye

“What the hell is everyone talking about?”

The first thing you’ll notice when you begin a workout program or walk into a gym is that this is a world with its own language. It’s weird and wonderful... and can be totally confusing.

You may be a newbie (for now), but with my handy guide to workout language, nobody will ever know. You’ll be activating your core and burning through supersets in no time!


Moving a body part away from the centre of the body. For example, raising your arms out to the sides in a star jump, or moving your legs away from each other in a side-lying hip abduction.

Active recovery

This involves following up an intense workout with lower-intensity exercise or movement. For instance, the day after a big strength workout, you may do an active recovery session using stretching and a foam roller. (Look for these sessions in your planner or program schedule.) Light movement such as stretching, walking or swimming can help your body to recover after tough exercise.


Stands for “as many reps as possible” and is used to describe a style of workout where your aim is to do exactly that.

At Home / In Gym

When it comes to the workouts in your FIT planner, you can choose between two different modes when you work out with FIT – both deliver great results! ‘In Gym’ workouts allow you to take the session at your own pace with a move-by-move breakdown (and often include gym equipment). I lead your ‘At Home’ workouts by taking you through the moves with a single continuous video. But of course, you may like to follow the ‘In Gym’ style at home as well. It’s up to you!

Emily Skye demonstrating what 'butt wink' looks like in a squat.

Butt wink? No, it’s not a new flirting method, it’s what my backside is doing on the left.

Butt wink

If you do squats, your butt may be winking! This is a flaw in form where, at the bottom of a squat, rather than pointing out at a straight angle, your butt is tucking in towards the back of your legs. Find out if you’re a butt winker and how to fix it.


Delayed onset muscle soreness, or DOMS, a feeling of stiff and tender muscles that usually sets in the day after a workout. The good news is it means the workouts are doing their job! Find out how to tell the ‘good’ pain of DOMS from the bad pain of an injury.

Engage, activate, switch on

You’ll hear me say this a lot: “Activate your core!” “Switch on your glutes!” But what does it mean? Think about your stomach and how it feels just hanging relaxed versus how it feels when you suck it in – that is the feeling of engaged muscles. And when muscles are engaged, they’ll better support your movement and you’ll get better results. Take a look at how to activate key muscles.


This stands for high-intensity interval training. In a HIIT workout, you alternate bursts of high-intensity exercise (the work phase) with shorter periods of rest or recovery (the rest phase). For example, you may give it your all doing 40 seconds of star jumps, then rest or walk on the spot for 20 seconds. HIIT workouts – or circuits as you might hear them called – are fast, effective and great fat-burners.


High-intensity low-impact training is the same style of training as HIIT, but without movements that may be hard on your joints. This is the type of training you’ll experience if you’re doing my FIT Foundations program. For instance, a HILIT workout wouldn’t include explosive box jumps or squat jumps. This means if you have bad knees or are returning from an injury, you don’t have to sit it out.


Stands for high-intensity resistance training. HIRT involves short bursts of exercise and rest just like HIIT, but adds resistance into the mix to build strength. This may involve equipment like weights or resistance bands.

Emily Skye, wearing a teal two-piece workout outfit, does modified star jumps.

Modified star jumps (the kind you’ll find in FIT Foundations) are just one example of a HILIT exercise.


Lateral movement is a sideways movement. For example in a lateral lunge, you lunge to the side instead of forward.


Stands for “non-scale victory”. We can all get caught up on the number on the bathroom scales, but your progress may actually be better measured by feeling more comfortable in your clothes, completing a full workout for the first time, or realising you no longer get puffed walking up the stairs! What you consider an NSV is up to you and your goals.


Your FIT planner lays everything out for you each day: your workouts, meals and all the tools you need for success. You can follow your planner workouts each day, or take on a program.


As a FIT member, there’s more than one way to get it done! My short-term programs (which last 4–6 weeks) are designed to help you achieve specific body goals and master different styles of training. You’ll find all the programs in the Programs section – including FIT Foundations (which is entirely in ‘At Home’ style), The Booty Challenge, FIT Pregnancy and plenty more.


This is time taken away from training to give your body time to rest, repair and get stronger.

Emily Skye stretching on the living room floor.

Psst… stretching is a type of active recovery!


Short for repetitions, as in how many times you repeat a move. For instance, a bicep curl is an exercise where you raise a dumbbell to your shoulder, then lower it back down again – this up and back motion is 1 rep.


Rounds are groupings of exercises that make up your entire workout. A round is usually made up of several different exercises, each performed for a certain number of reps and sets.


Sets in a workout tell you how many times to do a collection of reps. Let’s say you’re doing bicep curls and the workout calls for “3 sets of 8 reps”: you’ll do 8 curls (then rest) three times before moving onto the next set.

Emily Skye performing a dumbbell deadlift.

Working with weights? Yep, you’re strength training!

Strength training

Also known as resistance training, strength training involves using equipment or bodyweight to build muscle, strength and endurance. Common strength training equipment includes dumbbells, kettlebells and resistance bands.


Ooh, now you’re sweating! Remember up in “Set” when I said you could rest between each collection of reps? In a superset, you do one set of an exercise then immediately switch to do another exercise – with no rest in between.

BONUS ROUND: I’m working WHAT muscle?!

Ready to work your delts? Well, you would be if you knew what delts were! Without going full biology class, here are the essentials you may see in your workout targets:

  • Glutes: your booty – made up of three muscles, all of which help drive power and stability throughout the rest of your body.
  • Hamstrings: the rear of your upper legs – again, this area is made up of three muscles between your hip and your knee.
  • Quadriceps (or quads): your thighs – no surprises that your quads are made up of four individual muscles, and are one of the most powerful parts of your body!
  • Calves: the rear of your lower legs – between your knee and your ankle.
  • Lats: the largest muscles in your back, your lats are on either side of your spine just below your shoulders. They play a big part in any pushing or pulling motion.
  • Deltoids (or delts): The muscles across the top of your shoulders.
  • Triceps: the rear of your upper arms.
  • Biceps: the front of your upper arms – you know, the one you flex to show how strong you are!
  • Abs & core: the muscles in your torso – your core is made up of around 20 muscles, all of which provide stability to the rest of your body. Your abs are part of that group! They’re the ones we notice when we see someone with a six-pack.
  • Posterior chain: the powerful muscles at the back of your body, including calves, hamstrings, glutes and lats.

Now that you’ve got the language down, you’re ready to smash it! (That’s when you do a workout really well.)

Emily Skye
Personal trainer • Founder

Emily Skye is a strength training expert and the face of FIT, the digital fitness app that helps women worldwide build strength and confidence, stay active through pregnancy and rebuild post-pregnancy. Emily holds a Certificate IV in Fitness and Master Trainer qualification from the Australian Institute of Fitness. She is also co-founder of James Cosmetics and a mother of two.

Emily Skye
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