“WTF are you talking about?”

This week continues my new series of answering health and fitness questions on the blog. And, I admit, this blog idea came more from a personal experience and question of my own versus a direct one I had been asked at one time or another.


Our dedicated shaker cabinet for all-things supplements, like BCAAs.

One day, I heard my husband talking about taking his BCAAs. Naturally, I first assumed this was some sort of grown-up, finance-industry version of the SATs.

I was wrong. BCAA stands for branch chain amino acids. It’s a supplement he, like many who lift weights, takes to promote muscle growth.

Then I started thinking about all the health and fitness terms I (and we all) throw around every day. And how said terms can be really confusing to those new or not really in the health and fitness world. So here begins the next health and fitness Q&A.

Q: What does (insert obscure fitness term) mean?

A: In addition to BCAAs, here are 9 commonly-thrown-around, yet not-commonly-understood terms in the health and fitness world.

An acronym like BCAAs, but you’ll rarely hear anyone actually use the term, “DOMS.” What you may hear about is people referring to what it means: delayed onset muscle soreness.

As I often do, allow me to explain with a story:
Lindsay works with Jake.
Lindsay and Jake both like to lift weights.
Lindsay and Jake are both over 30.
Lindsay does a heavy leg lift and brags to Jake the next morning at a staff meeting that she doesn’t even feel sore.
Lindsay discovers the harsh reality of life the following day when she can’t go down stairs, bend down, or sit without grimacing in pain.
Jake laughs at Lindsay because he too finds himself in this situation often.


Hard a.m. workouts then an afternoon on the hill means serious DOMS is coming.

Especially as we get older, post-lift muscle soreness often comes at us later and hits us harder. This phenomenon of peak soreness coming 36 or even 48 hours after a lift: delayed onset muscle soreness or DOMS.

2. Fartlek
A serious running term, this one still makes me giggle.

Fartlek is a training style of running that’s similar to intervals. It’s defined as periods of fast running intermixed with periods of slow running.

3. Gains
In the health and fitness world, you’d think people talking about gains would be a bad thing. People work out to lose weight, not gain, right?

When you hear people talking about gains in a good way, they’re referring to growing muscle mass.

I promise, this is the last acronym. This one, pronounced, “Hit” just like it looks, stands for high intensity interval training.

It’s a shorter workout (hence it’s growing popularity) that alternates short bursts of super-high intensity work with short periods of recovery work.

5. Macros
This is one you’ll only hear when you’ve gotten really immersed in health and fitness, and especially in weights. Or, you’ve achieved full meathead status, you’ll find you’re the one who can’t shut up about counting them.

Macros refer to macronutrients: carbs, protein, and fat. It’s the balance of these macronutrients that make up total caloric goals.

6. Negative Splits
You may be crossing your legs in pain, imagining what negative splits means. Ease up, it has nothing to do with flexibility or lack thereof.


Far from my best 5k time but I was pumped about my negative splits.

Races or training runs are often viewed in halves – the first X miles, then the second half, the same number of miles. As one might imagine, it’s common to run fast in the first half, then lose some steam and be a bit slower in the second. Negative splits is the opposite, when the second half of a run is faster than the first.

7. Quinoa
Pronounced, “keen-wah” this food has been buzzed about for years after being introduced as the newest, hottest superfood. It’s rich in fiber, protein, and iron, and has all kinds of health benefits.

Not only is it good for you, it’s good. We often eat it mixed with rice and veggies. One of the golden rules in the health industry is, if you can’t pronounce it, don’t eat it. Quinoa is the exception to rule – although now you know how to pronounce it!

8. Rest
I know, I know. Everyone knows what rest is. The confusion comes when a non-gym person hears a workout enthusiast griping about a rest day. Why, you might ask, would anyone be complaining about resting?

Rest is tough. Especially when training hard, it’s tempting to keep that fire lit and work out day after day after day. But equally important to any fitness regime – and especially when training hard – is a full rest day to recharge. Rest also comes into play in terms of actual sleep, as hard workouts demand more sleep.

9. Spinning
Back in the day, the only spins I heard about were attached to the word, “bed” and after a night of drinking too much wine.

In the health and fitness world, this is just another term for cycling, typically used when referring to cycling class.

There you have it. Now when your fit friends are talking about doing a HIIT workout or hoping for negative splits in their next half marathon, you can chime in about how you’re stoked about your gains. Actually, don’t say that. That’s really one you say to yourself, never out loud.

Don’t forget to submit your health and fitness questions to be answered on the blog. Leave a comment or tweet me @runlikeagirl311 on Twitter.


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