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Bodybuilding Slang: Your Gym Dictionary With 34+ Terms You Might (Or Not) Have Heard

bodybuilding slang and terms

Bodybuilding isn't just about lifting weights; it's a subculture, and, just like any subculture, it has its own language. Understanding bodybuilding slang is like learning a secret code that unlocks the camaraderie and spirit of the gym. From “pump” to “shred,” each term carries significance and speaks volumes about the dedication of those who live the bodybuilding lifestyle.

34 Most Commonly Used Bodybuilding Terms

In the world of bodybuilding, terms like “pump,” “shred,” and “bulk” hold special meaning. Achieving a “pump” refers to the tight, full feeling in muscles after intense exercise, while “shred” signifies achieving low body fat levels, and “bulk” means gaining muscle mass.

  1. Pump: The feeling of tightness and fullness in muscles during or after a workout, usually achieved through high-repetition, moderate-weight exercises.
  2. Shred: Refers to achieving low body fat levels and high muscle definition, often associated with a lean physique, also called “cutting”.
  3. Bulk: The process of gaining muscle mass and size through progressive resistance training and a calorie surplus diet. Read more about bulking.
  4. Plates: Refers to the weight disks used on barbells and machines for resistance training exercises.
  5. Bioscience: Broscience is like the unofficial gym wisdom—often referring to claims about training, nutrition, or recovery that lack solid scientific evidence to back them up.
  6. Lightweight baby: A quote that bodybuilding legend Ronnie Coleman frequently used while lifting heavy weights.
  7. Rack: The storage area for weights and equipment in the gym, where barbells, dumbbells, and plates are kept organized.
  8. Barbell: A long metal bar with weights attached at each end, used for various strength training exercises like squats, deadlifts, and bench presses.
  9. Dumbbells: Free weights consisting of a short bar with weights attached at each end, used for unilateral exercises and isolation movements.
  10. Spotter: A person who assists during weightlifting exercises by ensuring safety and providing assistance when needed, especially during heavy lifts like bench press or squats.
  11. Rep: Short for repetition, referring to the completion of a single movement or cycle of an exercise.
  12. Set: A group of consecutive reps performed without rest, typically followed by a brief rest period before starting the next set.
  13. Swole: It's that sensation of your muscles swelling and feeling pumped up from the effort you're putting in.
  14. Guns: “Guns” is the affectionate term used to refer to your arms in the gym world. To sculpt those impressive guns, focus on building strength and size in your triceps, biceps, and forearm muscles through targeted workouts and dedication.
  15. Superset: Performing two exercises back-to-back with no rest in between, targeting different muscle groups or the same muscle group from different angles.
  16. Drop set: A technique where weight is reduced immediately after reaching muscle failure in a set, allowing for additional reps to be performed to increase muscle fatigue.
  17. Failure: Reaching the point during an exercise where it is impossible to complete another rep with proper form due to muscle fatigue.
  18. Mirin': Is the gym-goer's way of giving props to someone's impressive physique or strength. You can't help but admire that person with the delts that just won't quit—those cannonballs popping out of their shirt definitely have you mirin' them.
  19. Buddha belly: A term used to describe somebody who has excess belly fat.
  20. DOMS: Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness, the muscular discomfort and stiffness experienced 24-48 hours after a strenuous workout or unfamiliar exercise.
  21. Cardio: Short for cardiovascular exercise, referring to activities that increase heart rate and improve cardiovascular health, such as running, cycling, or elliptical training.
  22. BRO: You know you're part of the bodybuilding world when you're greeted with a hearty “bro,” regardless of gender. It's practically a rite of passage, especially when stepping into a CrossFit gym. And hey, don't be surprised if you hear variations like “broski” or “brah” tossed around—they're all part of the same friendly vibe! So, get ready to embrace the bro culture and dive into the camaraderie of the gym.
  23. Circuit training: A workout routine that involves completing a series of exercises in sequence with minimal rest between each exercise, targeting different muscle groups or fitness goals.
  24. PR: Personal record.
  25. Compound exercise: Multi-joint movements that engage multiple muscle groups simultaneously, such as squats, deadlifts, and bench presses.
  26. Cycle: In gym lingo, “cycle” can have various meanings, but its primary usage typically points to programming—a phase in your training routine aimed at enhancing a specific aspect of your fitness.
  27. Isolation exercise: Single-joint movements that target specific muscles or muscle groups, such as bicep curls, tricep extensions, and leg extensions.
  28. Alligator Arm: A term describing someone who is not doing a full motion (bad form) when working out.
  29. HIIT: High-Intensity Interval Training, a form of cardio exercise involving short bursts of intense activity followed by periods of rest or low-intensity exercise.
  30. Muscle confusion: The practice of varying workouts and exercises to prevent plateaus and stimulate continuous muscle growth and adaptation.
  31. Tool: A guy hitting on women by lifting heavy weights, flashing and trying to be the center of attention. This guy is shirtless as the gym 90% of the times unfortunately.
  32. Plateau: A period of stagnant progress or performance in strength, muscle gain, or fat loss despite consistent training and diet efforts.
  33. Cutting: A phase in bodybuilding or fitness where the primary goal is to reduce body fat while preserving muscle mass, typically achieved through calorie restriction and increased cardiovascular exercise.
  34. Macros: Short for macronutrients, including protein, carbohydrates, and fats, which are essential nutrients required in large quantities for energy and muscle growth.

Gym Equipment Dictionary

Knowing the slang for gym equipment is essential for navigating the weight room. Terms like “plates,” “rack,” and “barbell” are commonplace. “Plates” refer to the weight disks used on barbells and machines, the “rack” is where weights are stored, and the “barbell” is a long metal bar for lifting weights. Be accurate here as there is in fact a big difference between a barbell and rack.

gym slang examples

Muscle Groups and Workouts

“Leg day,” “arm day,” and “chest pump” are examples of slang used to describe workouts targeting specific muscle groups. Each term reflects the focus and intensity of the training session, showcasing the dedication of bodybuilders to sculpting their physique.

Nutrition and Diet Slang

Bodybuilders have their own vocabulary when it comes to nutrition and diet. Terms like “macros,” “clean eating,” and “cheat meal” are commonplace. “Macros” refer to macronutrients like protein, carbs, and fats, while “clean eating” emphasizes consuming whole, unprocessed foods, and a “cheat meal” is a planned indulgence in less healthy foods.

Supplements and Performance Enhancers

The use of supplements and performance enhancers is prevalent in bodybuilding circles. Slang terms like “creatine,” “pre-workout,” and “BCAAs” are often heard.

“Creatine” is a popular supplement for increasing muscle mass and strength, “pre-workout” refers to supplements taken before exercising for energy and focus, and “BCAAs” are branched-chain amino acids essential for muscle recovery.

Motivational and Inspirational Phrases

We who lift know that bodybuilding is as much a mental game as it is physical. Motivational phrases like “no pain, no gain,” “sweat equity,” and “beast mode” inspire and drive bodybuilders to push their limits and achieve their goals, reinforcing the mindset of hard work and dedication.


I know, it is goofy in a way. All this broscience nonsense and GO HARD OR GO HOME quotes flying around at the gym. Do I use some of the gym slang? Well, I obviously use the proper names for gym equipment, supplements and so on. But I try to stay away from the “bro slang”.

Do you use any of it?


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