Popular Fitness Terms Explained
If you’re a keen Instagrammer you may well see all number of crazy fitness terms thrown about, especially in lists of endless hashtags. You may also be trying to find articles of weight loss or muscle building and struggle to understand half of what is being said! That’s why we're here to explain a few of the more common fitness terms which you may not have come across before, and which may help you to reach your fitness and nutrition goals once you understand what they mean!
Endomorph refers to a specific body type. There are three basic body types: endomorph, ectomorph, and mesomorph. These three terms describe different body types and their distinguishing features. Someone who is an endomorph will generally store more body fat and will have a thick or stocky build. Endomorphs have a low tolerance to carbohydrates and will easily gain weight and muscle but struggle to lose body fat. Other characteristics include wide joints and hips as well as shorter limbs. Endomorphs make great bodybuilders or powerlifters due to their short levers and blocky stature.
An ectomorph is the opposite of an endomorph. People with this body type are characterised by a smaller frame and physique and a lower body fat percentage. These people will struggle to gain muscle mass or even fat and will have a higher metabolism. Characteristics include narrow hips, small joints, and long limbs. These people are well suited to endurance sports such as marathon running due to their long legs and light body weight.
A mesomorph is essentially a balance between an ectomorph and an endomorph. People with this body type will have a typical ‘hour glass’ figure and will find it easy to both gain and lose weight. You can also be a combination of mesomorph and one of the other body types, as many people do not fit into one single category. Your training should be based upon what works best for you and your body type as you cannot change your genetics! For most people, it is clear which body type they fit into just by looking at them.
This is a very common term in the fitness industry. It is short for macronutrients, which are simply the building blocks of our diet. There are three macronutrients: protein, fat, and carbohydrates, and these are the only sources of calories for humans (although alcohol is sometimes considered ‘the fourth macro’). Fat is the most calorie-dense macro, providing 9 calories per gram, with carbs and protein both providing 4 calories per gram. This means that a 500 calorie meal made of fatty foods will be smaller than a 500 calorie meal made of carbs and protein. However, each of the three macros are just as important as the next and none of them should ever be cut out of your diet completely. You can adjust the ratio of macros that you consume according to your training and physique goals.
This term stands for If It Fits Your Macros which is a trend in the fitness industry claiming that so long as you stick to your calorie and macro goals, you can eat whatever you want and still see results. However, this is something that is subject to a lot of criticism and certainly would not work for everyone. People who glorify this lifestyle may find that their micronutrient intake (vitamins and minerals) may suffer and other factors such as fibre, sodium, and sugar are not taken into account either.
BCAA stands for Branch Chain Amino Acid and these are the building blocks of protein. There are 9 essential amino acids and 11 non-essential amino acids. Essential amino acids cannot be made by the body and as a result must come from food. Non-essential amino acids can be made by the body and so it is not as important to consume them in your diet. Eggs are considered the ‘perfect’ protein source as they contain all 20 amino acids and are high in protein and fat which allows your body to absorb them well. Other sources of all essential amino acids are whole foods such as quinoa and hummus. You will often hear about people taking BCAAs as a dietary supplement, which just means they are increasing their intake of essential amino acids to better aid muscle repair and growth as well as promoting healthy circulation and blood pressure.
HIIT stands for High-Intensity Interval Training and is a very popular form of training at the moment. It consists of short bursts of intense activity such as sprints, burpees, or mountain climbers. It promises to burn fat more effectively than low intensity exercise and to increase your metabolism in such a way that you will continue to burn fat long after you’ve stopped exercising. It is popularly used by people who want to burn fat fast and improve their cardiovascular fitness and explosive power.
LISS stands for Low Intensity Steady State and is essentially the opposite of HIIT training. This type of training consists of longer duration workouts at a much lower intensity, such as uphill walking. This type of training is sometimes favoured by bodybuilders as it is less likely to tap into the body’s muscle stores. It is also good for endurance athletes such as those who compete in half marathons and marathons.
Fasted cardio is simply a cardiovascular workout such as running which is completed on an empty stomach. It is usually done in the morning before breakfast and promises to burn fat more effectively than if you train after a day of eating. However, it has never been scientifically proven that fasted cardio is more beneficial than non-fasted cardio, and different people will see different results. It does work for some people, but is not as effective for others.