Glossary of Terms for Personal Trainers
Keep this Glossary of Terms on hand at all times to and refer to it frequently when creating workouts for clients or understanding their physical ailments, and more.
Abduction: Movement of a body part away from the midline of the body.
Adduction: Movement toward or beyond the midline of the body in the frontal plane.
Agonist: A contracting muscle that is resisted or counteracted by another muscle, the antagonist.
Androgen: Any substance that aids in development and controls the appearance of male characteristics.
Antagonist: A muscle that produces an action that is exactly the opposite of the agonist.
Anterior: Before or in front of.
Anterior tilt: Forward tilt of the pelvic girdle
Assistant mover: A muscle that aids the prime mover to effect joint movement.
Asymmetry (body): Lack of symmetry of sides of the body.
Atrophy: A wasting or decrease in size of an organ, tissue, or body part owing to disease, injury, or lack of use.
Axilla: The armpit.
Biomechanics: A branch of study that applies the laws of mechanics to living organisms and tissues.
Bursa: A sac or saclike bodily cavity, especially one containing viscous lubricating fluid. Located between a tendon and a bone or at points of friction between moving structures.
Bursitis: Inflammation of a bursa.
Calisthenics: Exercise performed without weights or outside resistance designed to develop muscular tone and promote physical well being
Chiropractor: One who practices a method for restoring normal condition by adjusting the segments of the spine.
Circumduct: An act of moving a limb in a circular manner.
Concentric contraction: When a muscle overcomes resistance causing the muscle to shorten and the joint angle to be reduced.
Contralateral: Situated on the opposite side.
Cranial: Refers to the head or skull.
Depression: Downward movement of a part of the body.
Distal: Farthest away from the point of reference.
Dorsal: Pertaining to the posterior portion of a body or segment.
Dorsiflexion: Bending the body part towards the rear, opposite of plantar flexion.
Dorsum: The upper, outer surface of an organ, appendage, or body part.
Downward rotation: Movement of the scapula as the arms are lowered, and the superior border of the scapula moves away from the midline (spine).
Eccentric muscle action: (a.k.a. eccentric contraction) When resistance develops sufficiently
Elevation: Upward movement of a body part.
Exercise: Physical activity, the purpose of which is to improve some component of physical fitness.
Extension: The act of straightening or extending a limb; the position assumed by an extended limb.
External rotation: An outward, clockwise rotation of a bone, away from the midline of the body.
Eversion: The movement of the foot away from the midline of the body at the ankle joint. Also see pronation.
Flexion: Movement resulting in the reduction of a joint angle.
Horizontal abduction: The movement of the arms from horizontally across the body. Starting from a position where the shoulders are flexed at 90 degrees, hands extended in front of the body, moving in the transverse plane to end in a position where the arms are flexed at 90 degrees out to the side of the body.
Hyperextension: An extreme stretching or extension of a body part beyond the normal range.
Hypertrophy: Enlargement of a body part due to an increase in the size of its cells.
Hyperventilation: Abnormal, prolonged deep breathing that causes a depletion of carbon dioxide, a fall in blood pressure, and possible fainting.
Idiopathic: Cause of injury unknown.
Iliac: Refers to the area of the hip bones on either side of the body.
Inferior: Away from the head; relatively lower in position.
Injury: Act that damages or hurts.
Innervation: Nerve stimulation of a muscle.
Inversion: The movement of the foot towards the midline of the body at the ankle joint. Also see supination.
Ipsilateral: Situated on the same side.
Ischemia: Localized anemia or lack of oxygen.
Isokinetic contraction: Accommodating or variable resistance. Movement of a body part through a range of motion at a constant speed.
Isometric contraction: Muscular contraction that does not result in a change in the length of the muscle.
Isotonic contraction: Muscular contraction that overcomes resistance, resulting in a change in the length of the muscle.
Joint: The articulation of two or more bones.
Joint cavity: The space between bones that is encapsulated by a synovial membrane and articular cartilage.
Ketosis: A condition brought about by the restriction of carbohydrate intake, resulting in excessive acetones or other ketone bodies being secreted by the body; stored fat becomes more available for energy.
Kyphosis: An excessive posterior curve of the thoracic (upper) spine.
Lactate: The end product of anaerobic metabolism of glucose; the disassociated form of lactic acid.
Lactate threshold: The point during a graded exercise test at which the blood lactate concentration suddenly increases; a good indicator of the highest sustainable work load the individual can perform.
Lateral flexion: Flexing the trunk or neck to either side in the frontal plane.
Leg: The portion of the lower limb between the knee and the foot.
Lever: A rigid bar (like a bone) pivoted on a fixed point – used to transmit force, as in raising a weight at one end by pushing down on the other.
Ligament: The connective tissue that connects bone to bone.
Limiting factor: A characteristic that determines the upper limit of performance on a particular task, exercise, etc. (muscle fiber type, cardiac output, and oxygen uptake).
Lordosis: An excessive forward curve of the lumbar (lower) spine.
Lumbar: Related or pertaining to the low back. There are five lumbar vertebrae located above the sacrum.
Maximal: The highest level possible, the greatest effort attainable.
Maximal aerobic power: The most oxygen that can be taken up and used by the body during maximal work. Relates directly to the rate that the heart can supply the muscles with oxygenated blood.
Maximal heart rate: The highest heart rate attainable. Estimated by subtracting an individual’s age from 220.
Moment arm: The shortest or perpendicular distance from the point of force application to the joint or axis.
Motor unit: The functional unit of muscular contraction consisting of a motor nerve and the muscle fibers it innervates.
Muscle group: A group of specific muscles that are responsible for a particular movement or action at the same joint.
Myositis: Inflammation of a muscle.
Plantar flexion: Extending the foot away or “pointing one’s toes, opposite of dorsiflexion.
Plyometric: The eccentric or lengthening contraction of a muscle immediately preceding a concentric contraction.
Posterior: Related or pertaining to the rear.
Posterior tilt: Backward tilt of the pelvis.
Posture: The position or carriage of the entire body.
Progression: A gradual increase from the current level. A term to indicate the use of greater resistance to overload a muscle to effect adaptation.
Pronation: Foot – eversion combined with abduction of the forefoot. Forearm – rotation of the wrist and hand towards the radius.
Prone: Lying with the front or face downward.
Protraction: Forward movement of a body part, (e.g. scapula/shoulder girdle).
Proximal: Closer to any point of reference
Retraction: Backward movement of a part.
Rotation: Movement of a bone around its long (longitudinal) axis.
Superficial: External; located close to or on the body surface.
Superior: Refers to the head or upper; higher.
Supination: Foot – inversion combined with adduction of the forefoot. Forearm – rotation of the wrist and hand laterally.
Supine: Refers to the body lying with the face upward, opposite of prone.
Synergist: A muscle cooperating with another to produce movement that could not be performed by either muscle individually.
Thoracic: Refers to the chest.
Thorax: The portion of the trunk above the diaphragm and below the neck.
Tissue: A group of similar cells and fibers that form a distinct structure.
Tonic: The state of being in a consistent state muscular or neural activity (tone).
Torque: The effect of producing a force through rotation; the product of force times length of the force arm.
Umbilicus: The navel – the site that marks the where the umbilical cord was present.
Vasoconstriction: The narrowing of blood vessels.
Vasodilation: The widening of blood vessels.
Vein: A vessel that carries blood away from tissues and towards the heart.
Velocity: The rate of motion of a body traveling in a particular direction.
Ventilation: The process of oxygenating the blood through the lungs.
Ventricle: A small cavity or pouch; chambers of the heart that push blood out to the tissues.
Vertigo: A feeling of dizziness, as though the environment was revolving.
Viscosity: The state of being sticky or thick.
Vital capacity: The total volume of air that can be exhaled following a maximal inhalation.
Voluntary muscle: Skeletal muscle; muscle under one’s control.
Warm-up: Light to moderate physical activity performed prior to exercise.
Work: The movement of force through a distance.
Work rate: Power or work generated per unit of time.
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