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Bodybuilding Dictionary of Terms: A-D


BodybuildingPro.com Bodybuilding Dictionary of Terms A-D Terms

Go to: E-L Terms




Abdominal Muscles: The muscles of the midsection: rectus abdominis, obliques (external, internal, and transverse), and intercostals. The abdominals help flex the torso forward and from side to side, twist the torso in relation to the hips, depress the rib cage, and stabilize the midsection during squats, deadlifts, and overhead lifts.

Abdominal Type: See Endomorph

Abduction: Movement of the straight legs, accomplished by contraction of the leg abductor muscles (the sarorius, primarily), from a fully abducted position back to one in which the legs are again pressed together.

Actin: A protein found in muscle fibers that acts with myosin to bring about contraction and relaxation.

Adenosine: A compound derived from nucleic acid, composed of adenine and a sugar, D - ribose. Adenosine is the major molecular component of the nucleotides adnosine monophosphate, adenosine diphosphate, and adenosine triphosphate and of the nucleic acids deoxyribonucleic acid and ribonucleic acid.

Adenosine Diphosphate: A product of the hydrolysis of adenosine triphosphate.

Adenosine monophosphate (AMP): An ester, composed of adenine, D - ribose, and phosphoric acid, that affects energy release in work done by a mucle.

Adenosine Phosphate: A compound consisting of the nucleotide adenosine attached through its ribose group to one, two, or three phosphoric acid molecules. Kinds of adenosine phosphate, all of which are inter convertible, are adenosine diphosphate, adenosine monophosphate, and adenosine triphosphate.

Adenosine Triphosphatase (ATPase): An enzyme in skeletal muscle that catalyzes the hydrolysis of adenosine triphosphate to adenosine diphosphate and inorganic phosphate. Among various enzymes in this group associated with cell membranes and intracellular structures, mitochondrial ATPase is involved in obtaining energy for cellular metabolism, and myosin ATPase is involved in muscle contraction.

Adenosine Triphosphate (ATP): A compound consisting of the nucleotide adenosine attached through its ribose group to three phosphoric acid molecules. It serves to store energy in muscles, which is released when it is hydrolyzed to adenosine diphosphate.

Adrenal: Pertains to the adrenal or suparenal glands located atop the kidneys.

Adrenal Cortex: The outer and larger section of the adrenal gland, which produces mineralocorticoids, androgens, and glucocorticoids - hormones essential to homeostasis.

Adrenal Gland: Either of two secretory organs located on top of the kidneys and surrounded by the protective fat capsule of the kidneys. Each consists of two parts having independent functions: the cortex and the medulla. The adrenal cortex, in response to adrenocorticotropic hormone secreted by the anterior pituitary, secretes cortisol and androgens. Adrenal androgens serve as precursors that are converted by the liver to testosterone and estrogens. Renin from the kidney controls adrenal corticol production of aldosterone. The adrenal medulla manufactures the catecholamines, epinephrine and norepinephrine.

Adrenal Medulla: The inner portion of the adrenal gland. Adrenal medulla cells secrete epinephrine and norepinephrine.

Advanced Trainee: An individual with at least one year of steady, systematic resistance training experience.

Aerobic Exercise: Prolonged, moderate - intensity work that uses up oxygen at or below the level at which your cardiorespiratory system can replenish oxygen in the working muscles. Aerobic literally means “with oxygen”, and the only type of exercise that burns body fat to meet its energy needs. Bodybuilders engage in aerobic workouts to develop additional heart / lung fitness, as well as to burn off excess body fat to achieve peak contest muscularity. Common aerobic activities include running, cycling, stair climbing, swimming, dancing, and walking. Depending on how vigorously you play them, most racket sports can also be aerobic exercise.

Amino Acids: Often called the “building blocks of life,” amino acids are subunits that join together in sequences to form protein. Amino acids are named as such because they contain both an acid and an amine chemical side unit.

Anabolic: Chemical reaction in the body where smaller subunits are combined to form larger units. As an example, amino acids are joined together to form long polypeptide chains which in turn join to form strands of protein.

Anabolic Steroids: Prescription drugs that mimic male hormones, but without most of the androgenic side effects of actual testosterone. Many bodybuilders use these dangerous drugs to help increase muscle mass and strength, even though possession of them is now a felony in most states.

Anabolism: Constructive metabolism characterized by the conversion of simpler compounds into more complex ones.

Anaerobic Exercise: Exercise of much higher intensity than aerobic work, which uses up oxygen more quickly than the body can replenish it in the working muscles. Anaerobic exercise eventually builds up a significant oxygen debt that forces an athlete to terminate the exercise session rather quickly. Anaerobic exercise (the kind of exercise to which bodybuilding training belongs) burns up glycogen (muscle sugar) to supply its energy needs. Fast sprinting is a typical anaerobic form of exercise.

Androgenic: Term used to describe one of the two primary categories of effects produced by such agents as anabolic steroids and testosterone. Androgenic effects include acne, increased facial hair, and the development of secondary sexual characteristics.

Ankle Collar: The ankle collar is a wide, leather ankle bracelet which you clip to pulleys to perform exercises such as left lifts, and leg curls. It is largely used for leg exercises.

Anorexia: Anorexia is a lack or loss of appetite, resulting in the inability to eat. Anorexia may result from poorly prepared or unattractive food or surroundings, unfavorable company, or various physical and psychological cause.

Anorexia Nervosa: A disorder characterized by a prolonged refusal to eat, resulting in emaciation, amenorrhea, emotional disturbance concerning body image, and an abnormal fear of becoming obese. The condition is seen primarily in adolescents, predominantly in girls, and is usually associated with emotional stress or conflict, such as anxiety, irritation, anger and fear, which may accompany a major change in the person’s life. Treatment consists of measures to improve nourishment, followed by therapy to overcome the underlying emotional conflicts.

Anorexiant: A drug or other agent that suppresses the appetite, such as amphetamine, phentermine, diethylpropion, fenfluramine, or dexfluramine.

Antagonistic: Pharmacological term used to describe a drug that blocks or shuts down a receptor, thus reducing or terminating a given biochemical response.

Antagonistic Muscle: One with the polar - opposite function of a primary muscle. As examples, the leg biceps are antagonistic to the quadriceps, the triceps antagonistic to the biceps, and forearm flexors antagonistic to the forearm extensors. Antagonistic muscle groups are frequently supersetted in a high - intensity workout.

Anterior: Used to describe the position of a structure when it is in front of another comparable structure, such as the anterior (or front) deltoid head.

Antidiuretic Hormone (ADH): Hormone produced by the posterior pituitary responsible for fluid and mineral conservation in the mammalian body. Bodybuilders often take ADH blockers to promote water loss in the days leading up to a bodybuilding competition.

Antioxidants: Group of substances reputed to neutralize harmful free radicals produced during cellular respiration.

Arm Blaster: Using an arm blaster is a very strict way to perform barbell (or E - Z bar) curls. Using an arm blaster promotes a similar effect as using a preacher bench. No elbow movement at all, and strict isolation of the biceps.

ATP: See Adenosine Triphosphate (ATP)

Atrophy: Shrinking of the muscles caused by catabolism. The reverse of Hypertrophy

Balance: A term referring to an even relationship of body proportions in an individual’s physique. Perfectly balanced physical proportions are a much sought after trait among competitive bodybuilders.

Ballistic Stretch: This involves dynamic muscle action where the muscles are stretched suddenly in a bouncing movement. For example, a ballistic stretch for the hamstrings might involve touching your toes repeatedly in rapid succession. The problem with this stretching technique is that rapid stretches invoke a powerful stretch receptor response that can result in injury. Further, after you do these exercises, the stretch receptors are overactive. This may lead to injury during an activity such as running or playing tennis.

Bar: The steel shaft that forms the basic part of a barbell or dumbbell. These bars are normally about one inch thick, and they are often encased in a revolving metal sleeve.

Barbell: Normally measuring between four and six feet in length, a barbell is the most basic piece of equipment used in weight training and bodybuilding. You can train every major muscle group using only a barbell. There are two major types of exercise where barbells are used: adjustable sets (in which you add or subtract plates to achieve the total weight desired), and fixed barbells (in which the plates are either welded or bolted in place and the total weight of the barbell is a set number). You may see fixed weights arranged by poundage in various gyms. The total weight of that barbell will likely be etched or painted on the plates. Fixed weights will save you the time of adjusting the weight in between sets. Adjustable weights are seen more commonly in home gyms, because it is very cost efficient to buy a bar, with several plates and clips to lock the weight in place.

Basal Metabolic Rate (BMR): Your body mass ratio, or the speed at which your resting body burns calories to provide for its basic survival needs. You can elevate your BMR and more easily achieve lean body mass through consistent exercise, and particularly through aerobic workouts.

Beginning Bodybuilder: An individual with less than six months of bodybuilding experience.

Bench: A wide variety of exercise benches are available for use in doing barbell and dumbbell exercises either lying or seated. The most common type of bench, a flat exercise bench, can be used for chest, shoulder, and arm movements. Incline and decline benches (which are set at various angles, normally between 30 to 45 degrees) also allow movements for the chest, shoulders, and arms. Adjustable benches are available for home gym use. They can be adjusted to flat, incline or decline angles.

Belts: Belts are supposed to aid you in a lift by taking pressure off the lower back when lifting very heavy weights. They will certainly help you if your goal is to develop power, and you attempt to achieve this through power lifting which consists of the three basic compound movements, squats, bench press, and dead lifting, all performed in a very low rep range. A weight belt will stabilize the upper body by increasing pressure in the abdominal cavity, and will reduce pressure in the lower back. Belts can offer a feeling of security and the knowledge that the chances of injury is lessened. However, belts are not necessary in all exercises. Stabilizing your upper body is simply not crucial for some lifts, and sporting a belt in those circumstances will not help you to achieve your goal to any greater degree. I recommend wearing a belt for big lifts, especially compound movements, done with heavy weights.

Biceps Machines: Biceps machines offer a variety of advantages to biceps training, and are advantageous to include in your workouts. With biceps machines, you can do heavy forced negatives. Your workout partner can press down on the weight as you resist during the downward part of the movement. You can get a longer range of motion, giving your more stretch and total contraction.

Biological Value (BV): Scale of measurement used to determine what percentage of a give nutrient source is utilized by the body. The scale is most frequently applied to protein sources, particularly whey protein.

Biomechanics: The scientific study of body positions, or form, in sport. In bodybuilding, kinesiology studies body form when exercising with weights. When you have good biomechanics in a bodybuilding exercise, you will be safely placing maximum beneficial stress on your working muscles.

Blood Pressure: The pressure exerted against the inner blood - vessel walls during heart contractions (called systolic blood pressure) and heart relaxation (called diastolic blood pressure).

Body Composition: For bodybuilders, the amount they weigh is not important, but their body composition is. For example, a person may be 5'10 and 300 lbs, but if they are 40% body fat, these stats are not as impressive for the judging booth. Bodybuilders worry less about their weight and more about their body composition, which is defined as the ration between lean body mass (muscle, bone, and connective tissue), body fat, and water. Never be afraid to eat, though. One of the best ways to gain lean muscle mass is to eat a lot and let your body fat levels rise in order to do so. This said, don’t let your bulking stage get out of control. It is essential that you keep your total body fat percentage close to what you would like it to be after your cutting stage. It is very difficult, if not impossible to gain muscle mass while simultaneously cutting body fat. Although they have said this is possible with the use of human growth hormone (HGH), it is really not essential. Be patient, muscles come in time.

Bodybuilder’s High: Similarly to a runner’s high, a pump can, according to some experts, cause a wide variety of hormonal responses, including the release of endorphins and enkephalins, which are natural painkillers produced in the body. Not to get into too much physiology or psychology, the pump can also elicit a pleasurable response in the pleasure center of the brain, which occurs overtime through the association of bodybuilding activity and the satisfying pump felt afterwards. The difference between being pumped up after a workout while in the gym, and waking up the next morning may be so significant that some people are shocked at the way they look when pumped up. Like any other positive outcome of bodybuilding, the pump will only occur if a number of other training factors are in place, such as proper nutrition and rest. One very easy way to determine if you are overtraining is if you notice you are no longer achieving the pump after your workouts. This can easily be noticed if you are familiar with the feeling associate with the pump. See also, Pump.

Bodybuilding: A type of weight training applied in conjunction with sound nutritional practices to alter the shape or form of one’s body. Bodybuilding is a competitive sport nationally and internationally in both amateur and professional categories for men, women, and mixed pairs. However, a majority of individuals use bodybuilding methods merely to lose excess body fat or build up a thin body.

Body-Fat Percentage: The total percentage of fat weight in an individual’s physique.

Bulimia: An eating disorder which consists of compulsive overeating to the point of vomitting.

Cachexia: General ill health and malnutrition, marked by weakness and emaciation, usually associated with serious disease.

Calorie: The amount of energy necessary to raise one liter or water one degree celsius. A bodybuilder’s maintenance level of calories can be calculated relatively easily, then either a caloric deficit (to lose body fat), or caloric surplus (to gain muscle mass) can be initiated. The calorie content of most foods are listed on the back of packaging.

Cambered Curling Bar: See E - Z Curl Bar

Carbohydrate: A molecule composed of carbon, hydrogen, and oxygen. It serves as the body’s primary short - term fuel source.

Cardiac Muscle: A special type of striated muscle of the heart. Cardiac muscle is an exception among involuntary muscles, which are characteristically smooth. Its contractile fibers resemble those of skeletal muscles but are not as large in diameter. The connective tissue of cardiac muscle is sparser than that of skeletal muscle.

Cardiorespiratory Fitness: Physical fitness of the heart, circulatory system, and lungs indicative of good aerobic fitness.

Catabolic: Chemical reactions in the body where larger units are broken down into smaller subunits. As an example, muscle tissue may be broken down into protein strands which, in turn, may be cleaved into individual amino acids.

Cheating: A method of pushing a muscle to keep it working far past the point of temporary muscular failure. In cheating, you will use a self - administered body swing, jerk, or otherwise poor form once you have reached temporary muscular failure to take some pressure off the muscles being used primarily in the movement and allow them to continue for a few more reps. Word of advice: Save cheating for the last set of an exercise.

Chinning Bar: A horizontal bar attached high on the wall or gym ceiling on which you can do chins, hanging leg raises, and other movements for your upper body.

Cholesterol: A type of fat manufactured within the body but more often ingested from fatty animal - source foods like beef, pork, eggs, and milk products. Over the long term cholesterol can clog arteries and other blood vessels, leading to stroke or heart attack.

Circuit Training: A special form of bodybuilding through which you can simultaneously increase aerobic conditioning, muscle mass, and strength. In circuit training you will plan a series of 10 to 20 exercises in a circuit around the gym. The exercises chosen should stress all parts of the body. These movements are performed with an absolute minimum of rest between exercises. At the end of a circuit a rest interval of two to five minutes is taken before going through the circuit again. Three to give circuits would constitute a circuit - training program.

Clip: The clamp used to hold plates securely in place on a barbell or dumbbell bar. The cylindrical metal clamps are held in place on the bar by means of a set screw threaded through the collar and tightened securely against the bar. Inside collars keep the plates from sliding inward and injuring your hands, while outside collars keep plates from sliding off the barbell in the middle of an exercise.

Cocktailing: Slang term used by athletes to refer to the practice of taking as many different performance - enhancing drugs as possible.

Collar: See Clip

Cool Down: If you’ve done a fast - paced workout, complete the workout with five minutes of slow aerobic activity. This cool down will give your pulse, blood pressure and breathing a chance to slow down. You can also end a weight training session with an easy set using a light weight, or some light stretching.

Compound Movements: Compound movements are any of a series of bodybuilding exercises which are very basic and nature, and in many cases increase the levels of growth hormone in the body. Basic examples of compound movements are deadlifts, squats, and the barbell bench press.

Concentric Contraction: When a muscle fiber develops sufficient tension to overcome a resistance so that the muscle visibly shortens and moves a body part against a resistance, it is said to be in concentric contraction. When you curl a dumbbell, the biceps muscle contracts concentrically. The resistance is the combined weight of the forearm and the dumbbell, and the source of resistance is the gravitational pull.

Creatine: An important nitrogenous compound produced by metabolic processes in the body. Combined with phosphorus, it forms high energy phosphate. In normal metabolic reactions the phosphorous is yielded to combine with a molecule of adenosine diphosphate to produce a molecule of very high energy adenosine triphosphate.

Creatine Kinase: An enzyme in muscle, brain, and other tissues that catalyzes the transfer of a phosphate group from adenosine triphosphate to creatine, producing adenosine diphosphate and phosphocreatine.

Cross Training: The participation in two or more sports that can improve performance in each and help achieve a higher level of fitness. For example, weight training and football.

Curved Short Bar: Some of these are U - shaped and some are V - shaped. Both of them are used frequently for triceps exercises, but other exercises are also possible with them.

Cut: A term used to denote a bodybuilder who has an extremely high degree of muscular definition due to a low degree of body fat.

Cut Up: See Cut

Definition: The absence of fat over clearly delineated muscle masses. Definition is often referred to as “muscularity”, and a highly defined bodybuilder has so little body fat that very fine grooves of muscularity called “striations” will be clearly visible over each major muscle group.

Dehydration: Biological state where the body has insufficient water levels for proper functioning. As the human body is over 90 percent water, athletes must continuously replenish the water lost during intense exercise.

Density: Muscle hardness, which is also related to muscular definition. A bodybuilder can be well - defined and still have excess fat within each major muscle complex. But when has or she has muscle density, even this intramuscular fat has been eliminated. A combination of muscle mass and muscle density is highly prized among all competitive bodybuilders.

Dip: Word used to refer to the negative motion of a bench press exercise (intentional or otherwise). When an individual reaches the point of temporary muscular failure, the bar may "dip" (drop unintentionally) until the time at which the spotter realizes assistance is needed and helps the trainee raise the bar to the rack.

Dipping Bars: Parallel Bars set high enough above the floor to allow you to do dips between them, leg raises for your abdominals, and a variety of other exercises. Some gyms have dipping bars that are angled inward at one end; these can be used when changing your grip width on dips.

Dips: Dips are performed on an apparatus resembling two parallel bars, 3 to 4 feet high. This exercise is great for the chest and triceps.

Diuretics: Class of drugs used by athletes to decrease water conservation. Bodybuilders use diuretics to increase muscular definition and separation. Unfortunately, besides fluid loss, diuretics also flush life - sustaining electrolytes from the body.

Dorsiflexion: Moving the top of the foot upward and toward the shin.

Dumbbell: A dumbbell is a short handed barbell (usually 10 to 12 inches in length) intended primarily for use with one in each hand. Dumbbells are especially valuable when training the arms and shoulders but can be used to build up almost any muscle.


Go to: E-L Terms

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