Regularly Used Terms


This glossary page will hopefully help to explain any specific terms or weird words that I use in the articles. I will do my best to link the words back to this page. If you have any words/terms that you want me to add to this list, then just note them in the comments below or on the page that you saw them.


Robert’s Definitions


Adiponectin –

Adiponectin is a hormone that’s made by fat cells and acts on the brain. Blood levels of it are inveresly associated with body fat percent. Weight loss is associated with increased levels and obesity is associated with low levels of it.

Advanced lifter / exerciser (aka Trained subject / participant) –

In research, these are individuals that have been lifting or exercising continuously for longer than 1.5 – 2 years. They are characterized as having “used up” their “newbie gainz”. Their progress is notable for being much slower and requiring much more work and effort than a newbie lifter.

Bioimpedance –

Bioimpedance, as we discuss it on the blog, is the type of device (handheld or scale) that uses the resistance from your body as a small amount of current runs through it to estimate body composition.

You either stand on the scale or hold the device with both hands. As you do, a small current is sent through you. Your body tissues impede the current and that provides a calculation of your total body water. From that and studies, a predication can be made to estimate fat-free mass and body fat.

Studies such as this and this have reported the error of bioimpedance as high as +/-8%. The wiki article on this goes into some of the factors determining how much error there can be.

Bloat –

When lifters use this word, they mean that they’re over-hydrated and, usually, their belly is full of food and drink. One phrase using this idea, that I like, is “bloated ‘n smooth”. Being bloated is known to ruin the look of leanness. It’s the opposite of “jacked ‘n tan”.

Bone Mineral Density (BMD) / Bone Mineral Content (BMC) –

This is the measure of how compact the minerals are in our bone tissue. These minerals include calcium and phosphorus. Strong bones are dense and weak/thinner (osteopenia) bones are not dense.

The body is in a constant dynamic state of building up the minerals in bone tissue and breaking them down. When the breakdown occurs quicker/more than the build up, then bones become thin and porous. Eventually, that can turn into osteoporosis. That’s scary bone breaking territory.

The primary way to measure BMD/C is by the use of DEXA.

Dianabol (Dbol) –

The classic anabolic steroid used by weight lifters and bodybuilders, most notably Arnold Schwarzenegger. See the wiki page for more info.

Doubly-Labeled Water –

Doubly-labeled water is a technique that researchers use to measure energy expenditure in free-living people. This particular technique is considered the gold standard technique. It has a reported precision of ± 3%.

Doubly-labeled water involves the ingestion of a specific amount of water that has been labeled with stable, naturally occurring isotopes of hydrogen and oxygen. As people burn calories, carbon dioxide and water are made. The differences between the starting amounts and the body’s removal of these isotopes over a set amount of time are used to calculate the total calories burned. The method can be and is usually used over many days and weeks. This allows researchers to objectively “record” the energy expenditure of participants as they go about their everyday lives.

The cost and limited supply of the materials, as well as the understanding of how to use and analyze them ends up limiting how widely “doubly-labeled water” is used in research.

You can read more about this technique on its wiki page.

Electromyography (EMG) –

The technique of measuring the electrical activity of muscles by basically connecting a wire to the surface of the skin directly over a muscle. This is how researchers measure what muscles are activated, and to what degree, when participants perform different exercises.

Energy Expenditure –

Simply put, this is research-speak for calorie burn.

EPOC, aka Excess post-exercise oxygen consumption –

(aka Afterburn) This is the increased calorie burn following a sufficiently intense exercise session to replenish the energy depleted during the exercise. Excess oxygen is needed following a sufficiently intense exercise session to replenish energy stores, repair tissues, etc. This need to replenish energy stores results in an increased metabolism (consequently, calories burning!), with notable markers such as heavier breathing and/or increased heart rate for some period of time following the session.

Fat mass (FM) –

The total amount of lipid/fat/adipose tissue contributing to total body mass. This includes subQ and visceral fat. This excludes any other body weight/mass, such as water, muscle, protein, and bone tissues.

Ghrelin –

This hormone is primarily secreted by the stomach and acts on the brain. It is thought to cause an increase in appetite levels. When calorie consumption is high (in a surplus), then levels of Ghrelin decrease. When calories are low, levels of Ghrelin increase.

Hypertrophy –

The growth and increase in muscle tissue size. Narrowly, this is the increased size of just the muscle fiber tissue and not increased amounts of water, glycogen, and/or mitochondria in the muscle cell.

Indirect Calorimetry –

The way in which doctors and researchers measure oxygen consumption. That data can be converted to calories, in order to determine how many kcals you burn at rest or during activities. It can be used to determine your VO2 max. I’ve had my energy expenditure measured with this technique, both at rest and while active up to my VO2 max (on both a treadmill and a stationary bike). The gist is that you wear a mask that covers your mouth and nose. The mask is connected to a device that measures the oxygen you breath in and the carbon dioxide you exhale. That info is used to calculate your energy expenditure, aka how many calories you burn. The device that the mask connects to can be placed on a cart to allow researchers to move with the participants throughout a study session.

Lean body mass (LBM) –

The remaining weight after subtracting the body fat weight from the total weight of the body. These tissues will include muscle, water, protein, glycogen, bone, hair, etc.

Leptin –

Leptin is a hormone that is made by our fat cells and it acts on the hypothalamus. Blood levels of leptin generally correlate with body fat levels. Leptin is supposed to indicate to the brain what body fat levels are. Generally speaking, the brain seems to become desensitized to leptin as levels increase to those found in obese individuals. Consequently, not all studies that have administered leptin to formerly-obese participants have shown an effect. When the hypothalamus is responsive to leptin levels, increased blood levels are thought to decrease appetite.

Metabolic Adaptation –

This is the drop in resting metabolic rate beyond what weight loss alone accounts for. This decreased metabolism has also been shown to exist in the energy expenditure from activity and on the level of muscle cell energetics.

Muscle cross sectional area (CSA) –

The measure of the area of the muscle fiber in a tissue sample. The measurement is commonly taken via a biopsy of the tissue directly or via a high precision ultrasound. Researchers can also use MRI scans to measure the CSA of tissues.

Natty Lifter –

A “natural” lifter, in the sense that the lifter does not take any banned substances. The banned substances are commonly referred to as anabolic drugs, metabolism modulating pharmaceuticals, etc. Natty lifters will still use over the counter substances that are legal, such as creatine, caffeine, and vitamins of various types.

Newbie (aka Newby) lifter / exerciser –

Slang for someone that has just begun lifting or exercising. In research, these are subjects/participants that have not been lifting/exercising for at least the prior 6 months to 1 year. In common use, it refers to someone that has not lifted or exercised ever and is usually a young person. Newbie lifters are notable for the rapid progress that they make during their first year or so of lifting or exercising. This has been exploited in research to produce greater results of usually minute phenomenon that can otherwise be difficult to detect and distinguish.

Nitrogen Balance –

Nitrogen balance is the difference between how much nitrogen we consume and how much nitrogen we lose. Nitrogen comes from protein, including foods such as meat and dairy and plant proteins. A positive balance indicates growth and a negative balance indicates breakdown, among other things. You can find more info at Wiki’s brief article on it.

Pump –

Lifters use this term when they’re referring to blood being pumped into a muscle. Nailing a specific muscle with a bunch of rep work causes blood to go into that muscle and result in it swelling up. That swell is the pump. The great Arnold is known for his discussions of the pump.

Resting Metabolic Rate (RMR) –

(aka Basal Metabolic Rate) The amount of energy (or calories) used just to stay alive. This is measured while participants are seated, relaxed, and not digesting food.

Repetition Maximum (RM) –

The most reps you can do with a given weight. Usually, 1RM is used for the heaviest weight you can lift for one rep. Common RMs for different popular programs are 1RM, 2RM, 5RM, 8RM, 10RM, 12RM, and 15RM.

Subcutaneous (subQ) Fat –

The fat that is just below the skin and covers the entire body. On the abdomen, this fat rests on top of the musculature and ribs.

T3 & T4 –

These are two hormones that are produced by the thyroid and are involved in all of the body’s cellular processes, including heat generation, heart rate, digestion, strength, etc. T3 & T4 are generally thought of in relation to the metabolism. Increased T3 & T4 levels speeds up the metabolism. Decreased levels slows down the metabolism.

Total Daily Energy Expenditure (TDEE) –

This is how many total calories you burn in a day. It includes your resting metabolic rate, diet-induced thermogenesis, non-exercise physical activity, and exercise activity.

Thyroid Stimulating Hormone (TSH) –

TSH is a hormone that acts on the thyroid. When the thyroid is not producing enough of its hormones, TSH is produced in an attempt to stimulate it. When the thyroid is producing high levels of its hormones, TSH levels will decrease.

Visceral Fat –

The fat that is in the abdomen and marbled throughout the internal organs. It is primarily inside the abdominal muscles and chest. This is not the fat that is on top of the abz/chest and below the skin, which is known as subcutaneous fat.

VO2 Max –

The maximal amount of oxygen that your lungs can absorb and utilize. Trained and athletic folk can utilize higher amounts than sedentary folk.

Whole body-dual energy x-ray absorptiometry (DEXA) scan –

The technique of using an x-ray machine with 2 beams to measure the density of the body tissues. The x-ray projector can “scan” across the whole body so that a measure can be taken of fat mass, bone mass, and lean mass in one’s whole body. The information can then be broken down by limb for more specific information on fat/lean tissue/bone mass distribution.