Glossary of Bodybuilding Terms

Here on MuscleTalk there are a number of complex words, scientific terms and jargon and acronyms used in reference to bodybuilding, health and fitness. This section will help you define and understand the main ones. It is by no means finite and more will be added. If you have any words / terms you’d like explaining then please suggest them…

We have more information in our article about technical terms relating to muscle and bone.

Actin: One of the contractile proteins of muscle fibres.

Additive Effect: When researchers are measuring the effects of two or more substances in a single study. Additive effect means the combined effect of two or more factors is equal to the sum of their individual effects in isolation. For example, creatine monohydrate supplementation, by itself, may enhance lean body mass by 6lb over a 4 week period; HMB supplementation by itself, may increase lean body mass by 2lb over a 4 week period. If their effects are additive, subjects may gain 8lb in a 4 week period when the two products are used in combination.

ADP (Adenosine Diphosphate): ADP is formed when ATP is broken down within mitochondria of cells to provide energy. In order to recreate ATP and replenish cellular energy stores, ADP must combine with creatine phosphate (CP).

Aerobic: Means requiring oxygen. Aerobic metabolism occurs during low intensity, long-duration exercises, like jogging.

Aetiology: The basis of how a disease or disorder occurs.

Alcohol: An organic compound formed by the fermentation of carbohydrate containing one or more hydroxyl group.

Amino Acid: Nitrogen containing, carbon-based organic compound which is the simplest unit of protein.

AMP (Adenosine Monophosphate): AMP is formed when ADP is broken down within mitochondria of cells. In order to recreate ATP and replenish cellular energy stores, AMP must be combined with two molecules of creatine phosphate.

Anabolic (Androgenic) Steroid (AS / AAS): Synthetic version of the male hormone testosterone. AAS promote anabolism and male characteristics, speed up protein synthesis, reduce catabolism, and increase muscle mass and strength in athletes who train with weights. Steroids not only exert their effects on muscles but also affect many other parts of the body, which may lead to side effects.

Anabolic: Refers to promoting growth or anabolism.

Anabolism: The actual building process of tissues. It might occur through the body’s own natural reactions to muscular work and proper nutrition or through the introduction of erogenic aids. Anabolism occurs by taking substances from the blood, which are essential for growth and repair and using them to stimulate reactions that produce tissue synthesis.

Anaerobic: Means without oxygen. Anaerobic respiration in muscle tissue occurs during explosive activities like weightlifting or sprinting.

Anecdotal Evidence: Evidence reported by individuals based on observations and experiences, and is weak evidence.

Anti-Catabolism: The halting of cellular breakdown in the body. Slowing down the breakdown of cells favours new muscle growth.

Antioxidant: A nutrients, anutrients or substance created within our body that minimises tissue oxidation and helps control free radicals and their negative effects.

Anti-Proteolysis: A specific type of anti-catabolism: namely, the slowing or halting of protein breakdown in the body.

Anutrient: Substance found in food, which is not required for life, but may have some nutritional or health benefit.

Assimilation: The process by which food is digested, absorbed and utilised by the body.

ATP (Adenosine Triphosphate): A high-energy molecule stored the mitochondria of cells. When energy is required, ATP is broken down to ADP and AMP and free phosphate to provide this energy. This is the case in muscle cells that need energy in order to contract. ATP can be thought of as the actual fuel that makes muscles move.

Atrophy: A reduction in the size or a cell or tissue, due to lack of nutrition, disease or lack of use. For example when muscles breakdown.

Basal (Resting) Metabolic Rate (BMR / RMR): The level of energy expended by the body at rest sufficient to support the metabolic processes necessary for life.

BCAA: See Branched-Chain Amino Acid

Beta-Alanine: Naturally occurring amino acid blood buffer which converts to carnosine to delay fatigue. Available as a pre-workout supplement.

Bioavailability: The ease at which nutrients can be absorbed from a food and/or are available to tissues.

Biochemical Reaction: Refers to the broad range of chemical reactions which take place in all living organisms. For example, the conversion of blood sugar into energy, the effects of testosterone on muscle cell growth, and nerve impulse reaction.

Biological Value (BV): A measure of protein quality, assessed by how well a given food or food mixture supports nitrogen retention in humans.

BMR: See Basal Metabolic Rate

Body Composition: The percentage of your body composed of water, bone fat mass, muscle mass and other constituents. We are mostly interested in fat mass and fat free mass. More here.

Branched-Chain Amino Acids (BCAA): These are essential amino acids named so due to their structure. They are valine, leucine and isoleucine, and make up a third of muscle protein. BCAAs are available as a supplement usually taken before training to keep your levels up.

Buffer: A substance that minimises changes in hydrogen ion concentration (pH). They may help metabolic acidosis or lactic acid build up.

Bulking: Gaining bodyweight by adding both fat and muscle, this is done by consuming an excess of calories. (read more about bodybuilding bulking)

Burn: The burning sensation in a muscle that comes from the lactic acid and pH build up resulting from exercising the muscle to failure.

Caffeine: Naturally occurring stimulant found in tea, coffee, cola and some herbal supplement preparations.

Calorie: See kilocalorie

Carbohydrate loading: A technique whereby muscle glycogen reserves are increased in greater than normal amounts by a combination of exercise and diet.

Carbohydrate (‘carbs’): Organic compound containing carbon, hydrogen, and oxygen; very effective fuel source for the body. Different types of carbohydrates include starches, sugars and fibres. Carbohydrates are classified into monosaccharides, disaccharides, oligosaccharides and polysaccharides, depending on the number of single unit sugars in the chain length. Carbohydrates contain four calories per gram.

Carnosine: Natural blood buffer; see beta-alanine.

Catabolic: The opposite of anabolic, meaning breakdown of tissue. Catabolic states occur with disease, infection, injury, intense training, strict dieting, and immobilisation.

Catabolism: The breakdown or loss of muscle and other bodily tissues.

CEE (Creatine Ethyl Ester): Derivative of the nutritional supplement creatine. More about CEE here.

Chelating Agents: Soluble organic compounds that can fit certain metallic ions into their molecular structure. These are often used to increase the absorption of minerals within the body.

Cheat: (1)Training: When muscle fatigue begins to set in or the weight is too heavy, some athletes adopt improper form to make the lift, using the surrounding muscle groups or even momentum to assist in the movement.

Cheat: (2) Nutrition: Refers to eating a meal off from a devised meal plan.

Cholesterol: Waxy fat, made naturally in our bodies by the liver, and is an essential part of living tissues. Too much cholesterol builds up on the walls of arteries including those which supply the heart (coronary arteries) and is implicated in the aetiology of heart disease and stroke. It is a vital component in the production of many steroid hormones, plays a vital role in proper cell-membrane structure and functioning and is a substrate for bile-acid synthesis, among other functions. There are different types of cholesterol, including HDLs and LDLs.

Circuit Training: A workout technique in which the individual goes from one exercise to another, one set per movement per round, with minimal rest, thus gaining some aerobic benefit at the expenses of maximal strength gains.

Citrulline Malate: Naturally occurring substrate, which, as a supplement, helps to clear products of fatigue and improve performance.

Coenzyme: A substance that works with an enzyme to promote that enzyme’s activity.

Complete Protein: A protein source that contains all essential amino acids.

Concentric: This represents the positive portion of a repetition i.e. raising the weight.

Cortisol: A hormone released from the adrenal cortex and is involved in inflammation control and the immune response to trauma and infection. From these functions it is a catabolic hormones in the body. Suppressing cortisol production at key times may help bodybuilders avoid excess muscle breakdown. But, you need some cortisol to survive.

Creatine: Naturally produced in our bodies as an energy replenisher; manufactured in the liver, kidneys and pancreas and secreted into blood for transport to muscle (amongst other) tissues. Chemical name is methylguanido-acetic acid, formed from the amino acids arginine, methionine and glycine. More about creatine here.

Creatine Monohydrate: Common supplemental form of creatine.

Creatine Phosphate (CP): Inorganic phosphate carrier that binds with AMP and ADP to form ATP. Supplementing with creatine monohydrate helps increase muscle CP reserves.

Cutting: Stripping the body of excess body fat while retaining maximum muscularity.

CV (Cardiovascular) Exercise: Exercise which involves high aerobic metabolism with associated heart and circulatory system benefits, e.g. cycling, running, rowing, etc.

Cytokine: Describes a broad range of molecular protein messenger cells. The cytokine family includes interleukins, interferons, insulin-like growth factor-1 (IGF-1), among others. Cytokines act directly on cells and are very potent agents that can elicit massive changes in cellular function.

Deficiency: A sub-optimal level of one or more nutrients that are essential for good health. Deficiency of one or more nutrients can be caused by poor nutrition, increased body demands or both.

Dextrose: Another name for glucose, when glucose is referred to as a ‘standard’ value (see glucose).

Dietary Fibre: The ingestable portion of plants, including cellulose, lignin, pectin. Also know as roughage, non-starch polysaccharide (NSP) and fibre.

Dietetics: The science of nutrition.

Dietitian (Dietician): One who practices dietetics.

Dipeptide: Protein chain of two amino acids.

Disaccharide: A carbohydrate compound made up of two sugars. Examples are sucrose (table sugar), lactose (milk sugar), and maltose.

Diuretic: Describes any product that increases the amount of urine excreted by the body. Natural diuretics include alcohol and caffeine, but there are drug diuretics too.

DOMS: This stands for Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness, and describes the discomfort often experienced around 24-48hrs after training in a particular muscle group. It is thought to be caused by tiny tears in the muscle tissue. It is wrongly used by many as a guide to an efficient workout.

Drug: Generic broad term for any substance which, when introduced into the body, changes one or more of its natural physical or mental functions. Drugs are used for the prevention, diagnosis and/or treatment of disease, as well as the relief of symptoms.

Eccentric: This represents the negative portion of a repetition i.e. lowering the weight.

Efficacious: Means producing the desired effect, i.e. it works.

Electrolyte: Substance in solution which is capable of conducting electricity. These charged particles are present throughout the body and are involved in many activities such as regulating the distribution of water inside and outside cells in the body. Examples include potassium, sodium and chloride.

Elemental Nutrition: This is nutrition made up solely of simplest units of nutrition, i.e. amino acids, monosaccharides, fatty acids, vitamins and minerals.

Empirical Data: Information based on observation and experience, not scientific reasoning, also known as anecdotal evidence. Empirical data is not accepted as scientifically sound.

Endogenous: Refers to things that occur naturally in the body, i.e. something which your body produces naturally.

End Product: The resultant compound formed from a chemical process.

Energy: The capacity to do work. The energy in food is chemical energy: it can be converted to mechanical, electrical, or heat energy. Energy is sometimes measured in calories (kcal) or kilojoules (kJ).

Enzyme: A protein molecule that acts as a catalyst in thousands of chemical reactions in the body, including digestion of food, metabolism, hormone production and muscle cell repair.

Epidemiological Evidence: Studies on the effects of substrates on populations or groups of people. There are different types including retrospective, prospective, case-controlled, etc. Strength of evidence depends on study design.

EPOC: Excess post exercise oxygen consumption. Refers to the status of increased metabolism (oxygen consumption) following resistance exercise or high intensity cardiovascular exercise. This state seems to be achieved through extended, intermittent anaerobic exercise.

Ergogenic: Refers to something that can increase muscular work capacity, i.e. performance-enhancing. Natural supplements that can increase some aspect of athletic performance are said to be erogenic aids.

Essential Fatty Acid (EFA): Fat that our bodies cannot synthesis, so we must obtain through diet. See more about EFA.

Exogenous: Refers to things originating outside of the body, i.e. something we ingest orally, inhale or inject.

Experimental Evidence: Labroraty-based studies, which show the direct effect of administering a substance on a subject. Experimental studies provide a plausible theory from which other studies can follow.

Fat: Body fat (adipose tissue) or dietary fat. Fat is a group of organic compounds including triglycerides, sterols and steroids, more correctly know as lipid.

Fat-Free Mass (FFM): Refers to all other portions of the body other than fat. Also referred to as lean body mass (LBM).

Fatigue: A condition resulting from when the rate of energy re-synthesis cannot keep pace with energy utilisation, and physiological and metabolic processes are impaired.

Fat-Mass (FM): Refers to the amount of fat in body composition.

Fatty Acids: The simplest units of fat that vary in chain length and saturation.

Fibre: See Dietary Fibre

Flat: Describes muscles that have lost their fullness, commonly caused by over training, under training, during a cutting phase or from a lack of nutrients, muscle glycogen and water.

Flush: To increase the blood supply to a muscle, thereby bringing in more nutrients.

Free Hand Movement: Any exercise that can be performed without exercise equipment, using only your bodyweight i.e.; a push-up or squat without weight.

Forced Reps: Additional repetitions of an exercise performed with the help of a partner when you are unable to do anymore repetitions yourself.

Free Radicals: Highly reactive molecules possessing unpaired electrons that are produced during metabolism of food and energy and contribute to the molecular damage and death of vital body cells. Free radicals may be a factor in ageing and many diseases and may ultimately contribute to death.

Free Form Amino Acids: Structurally unlinked, individual amino acids freely present in tissues or blood.

Fructo-oligosaccharides (FOS): A type of soluble fibre that acts as a prebiotic, found in many foods especially fruit.

Fructose: The main monosaccharide found in fruit.

Fuel: The chemical substance from which energy is derived.

Full Spectrum Amino Acids: Supplements that contain a combination of all of all amino acids present in protein synthesis.

Functional Foods: These are foods that have no nutritional value per se, but have been developed through research and have a function in good health. Also known as nutraceuticals.

Gakic: Glycine-l-arginine-alpha-ketoisocaproic acid – supplement formula which may help to delay the onset of fattigue

Glucagon: A hormone responsible for helping maintain proper blood sugar levels. It is secreted in response to a fall in blood sugar levels, and activates glucose production in the liver and regulates the release of glycogen from muscle cells.

Glucose: The simplest sugar molecule, and is the most frequently occurring monosaccharide in the diet. It is the main sugar found in blood and is used as a basic fuel for the body.

Glutes: A shortened version of gluteus maximus, the largest of the muscles forming each of the buttocks. Your ass.

Glycaemic Index (GI): A measure of the extent to which a food raises the blood sugar (glucose) level as compared with other carbohydrates, particularly glucose.

Glycaemic Response (GR): The speed and level of blood sugar increase after eating food.

Glycogen: A polysaccharide that is the storage form of glucose in animal cells, in liver and muscle cells.

Glycolysis: The breakdown of carbohydrate into smaller compounds into ATP and substrates that may enter the Krebs cycle.

Growth Hormone (GH): A hormone is released by the pituitary gland. GH is the principle hormone controlling growth. It promotes muscle growth and the breakdown of body fat for energy. GH levels are high in children and in teens but diminish greatly after age 20.

Guarana: Herb available as a supplement formula as a source of caffeine.

High Density Lipoprotein (HDL): A sub-category of cholesterol in our blood, typically thought of as ‘good’ cholesterol. HDL cholesterol is the form that is typically used to clear fats from the system.

HIIT (High Intensity Interval Training): CV exercise regimen involving intervals of rapid exercise, within a period of low intensity. Designed to help both fat loss and fitness.

Hormone: A chemicals which regulates various biological processes through its ability to activate or deactivate enzymes. Hormones can be made of proteins (e.g. insulin, growth hormone) or lipid (e.g. testosterone, cortisol).

Hydration: The restitution or normal fluid reserves.

Hydrolysis: A chemical reaction where water reacts with a substance to change it into another substance or substances.

Hyperglycaemia: High blood glucose level, in a normal individual above 6 mmol per litre of blood.

Hyperplasia: An increase in the number of cells if a tissue, thus increasing its size.

Hypertonic: A fluid where the osmotic pressure is greater than that of what it is being compared to, in this case, normal body fluids.

Hypertrophy: When cells increase in size. For example, muscular hypertrophy is the increase in size of the muscle cells.

Hypoglycaemia: Low blood glucose level, below 3mmol per litre of blood. The effects of a hypoglycaemic attack include anxiety, fatigue, perspiration, delirium, and in severe cases, coma.

Hypotonic: A fluid where the osmotic pressure is less than that of what it is being compared to, in this case, normal body fluids.

Incomplete Proteins: Proteins that lack or are low in one or more essential amino acid.

Insulin: A hormone secreted by the pancreas and aids the body in maintaining proper blood sugar levels and promoting glycogen storage. Insulin secretion speeds the movement of nutrients through the bloodstream and into muscle for growth. It is also involved in amino acid uptake by muscle cells.

Insulin Index (II): Measures the speed of the rise in blood insulin levels in response to foods. II should be used alongside the GI to give a fuller picture of the glycaemic response. as sometimes they do not correspond.

Interval Training: See HIIT

In vitro: Refers to experiments done in the laboratory.

In vivo: Refers to experiments and what actually happens in the body as opposed to in the laboratory.

Ion-Exchange Filtration: A complex, thorough process of filtration used to obtain only the highest quality product. This is used in quality whey protein products.

Isolation: A technique that focuses work on an individual muscle without secondary or assisting muscle groups being involved, which provides maximal muscle shape. A good example is the seated dumbbell concentration curl.

Isotonic: A fluid where the osmotic pressure is equal to that of what it is being compared to, in this case, normal body fluids.

Ketones / Ketone Bodies: Intermediate products in fat metabolism. They are used as an energy source for critical organs and muscles during periods of fasting or very-low carbohydrate intakes.

Kilocalorie (kcal): The most commonly used unit of energy, more commonly just referred to as ‘calories’. 1 kcal = 1,000 calories = 4.184kJ.

Kilojoule (kJ): The metric unit of energy (see Kilocalorie for conversion).

Krebs Cycle: The series of reactions catalysed by enzymes whereby pyruvate (formed from prior pathways) and other substrates are oxidised to CO2 and water generating ATP.

Lactate / Lactic Acid: Produced from glucose during anaerobic metabolism. When oxygen becomes available, lactic acid can be completely broken down to carbon dioxide and water. Lactic-acid build-up is a primary cause of muscle fatigue.

Lean Body Mass (LBM): See fat-free mass

Limiting Factor: A factor that prevents a process or reaction from taking place. For example, a lack of protein in the diet can be a limiting factor for muscle growth.

Linoleic Acid: An omega 6 polyunsaturated essential fatty acid.

Linolenic Acid: An omega 6 polyunsaturated essential fatty acid.

Lipid: Another term for fat related substances, including triglycerides, steroids, cholesterol.

Lipogenic: Making body fat.

Lipolysis: Refers to the breakdown of body fat by enzymes. This results in stored fat being used as fuel by the body.

Lipolytic: Describe something with fat-burning effects.

Low-Density Lipoprotein (LDL): A sub-category of cholesterol, typically thought of as bad cholesterol. Too high LDL levels have bee associated with heart disease.

Luteinizing Hormone (LH): A hormone that stimulates the testes to make testosterone in males, and in females induces ovulation.

Macromineral: A minerals required by the body in relatively large or gram quantities, e.g. calcium, phosphorus.

Macronutrient: A nutrients that we ingest in large quantities, including protein, carbohydrate, fat, and water.

Malabsorption: Inadequate absorption of nutrients from the digestive tract, resulting in deficiencies.

Mass: Refers to the results of training hard and eating correctly in order to add muscle bulk to a frame.

Meal Replacement Powder (MRP): A category of supplement which contains protein, carbohydrates, vitamins, minerals, and other key nutrients which are used to replace a regular-food meal for purposes of weight loss, weight gain, or increasing dietary nutrient intake. Meal replacement formulas are also referred to as total-nutrition products or engineered foods.

Metabolic Rate: Refers to the rate you convert energy stores into working energy in the body. It describes how fast your ‘whole system’ runs. Metabolic rate is controlled by numerous factors, including muscle mass, nutrient intake, exercise, age, disease state, use of drugs, and others.

Metabolism: Refers to the utilisation of nutrients and oxygen by the body. It’s the process by which substances come into the body and the rate at which they are used.

Metabolites: Intermediates in metabolism.

Micronutrient: A nutrients which we ingest in relatively small amounts, including vitamins and minerals. Micronutrients are typically ingested in gram quantities or less.

Mineral: Naturally occurring, inorganic substance that is essential for human life and plays a role in many vital metabolic processes.

Mitochondria: Specialised structures within cells with specific capability to oxidise substances. They are the sites of most metabolic pathways, resulting in the production of ATP and energy.

Monosaccharide: The simplest form of carbohydrate, i.e. one sugar molecule. Examples are glucose and fructose.

Monounsaturated Fat (MUFA): A fatty acid which contains one open spot on the chain length. As a percentage of total fat intake these have been shown to be beneficial.

Muscle Fatigue: The failure of a muscle to continue to perform work, caused by m

Natural: (1) Nutrition: Foods or supplements that are not highly refined and which do not contain artificial flavours or colours. The word ‘natural’ has no legal definition in food supplementation.

Natural: (2) Pharmacology: Gym jargon for athletes who have not used anabolic steroids or other banned ergogenic aids for a particular period of time.

Neurotransmitter: A substance released at the end of nerve cells when a nerve impulse arrives there. Neurotransmitters diffuse across the gap to the next nerve cell and alter the membrane of that cell in such a way that it becomes less or more likely to fire. Examples include adrenaline and serotonin. Adrenaline is responsible for the ‘fight or flight’ response and is an excitatory neurotransmitter; serotonin is the opposite-it makes you sleepy.

Nitrogen Balance: Refers to a person’s daily intake of nitrogen from protein equals the daily excretion of nitrogen. A negative nitrogen balance occurs when the excretion of nitrogen exceeds the daily intake and is often seen when muscle is being lost. A positive nitrogen balance is often associated with muscle growth.

Nitrogen: This is an element that distinguishes proteins from other substances and allows them to form various structural units in our bodies.

Nutraceuticals: See functional foods

Nutrient: Components of food that help nourish the body, i.e. provide energy or serve as building materials. Include carbohydrates, fats, proteins, vitamins, minerals, water, etc.

Nutrition: The study of food and its chemical components.

Off-The-Shelf (OTS): Refers to substances that do not require a prescription to be attained legally, nor need they be requested in a pharmacy.

Oligopeptide: Peptide chain of a few amino acids in length.

Oligosaccharide: Carbohydrate chain of a few simple sugars in length.

Omega-3 (n-3) Fatty Acids: A type of polyunsaturated fatty acid; the ‘3’ designates where the first double bond is located in the fatty acid carbon chain. These are abundant in fish oils; e.g. linolenic acid.

Omega-6 (n-6) Fatty Acids: A type of polyunsaturated fatty acid, the ‘6’ refers to the first double-bond on a fatty acid chain which is located at the sixth carbon acid. For example linoleic acid.

One Rep Max (1RM): Your absolute strength in a given moment. Power lifting competitions are a test of 1RM strength. For many bodybuilders, especially beginners, 1RM training is harmful because of the higher risk of injury. A weight that you can just complete in 10 reps is a good approximation for most people of 75% of their 1 RM.

Optimal Nutrition: Means ‘best possible nutrition’. Distinct from adequate nutrition, this term describes people free from marginal deficiencies, and who are not at risk for such, and sufficient amounts of nutrients and anutrients to reduce risk of disease and maximise performance.

Over-The-Counter (OTC): Refers to substances that do not require a prescription to be attained legally, but must be requested in a pharmacy, who will provide instructions on usage.

Oxidation: The addition of oxygen to compound, primarily taking place in mitochondria where substances are fully combusted. It is the process of cellular decomposition and breakdown.

Oxygen Debt: Deficiency of oxygen in working muscles when performing exercise that is so demanding the cardiovascular system cannot deliver oxygen fast enough to the muscles to support aerobic metabolism. The debt must be repaid by rapid breathing after the activity slows down or stops. Oxygen debt leads to anaerobic metabolism, which leads to lactic acid build up and muscle fatigue. It is when you are out of breath.

Pathogenic: Potential to cause a disease or disorder and its related signs and symptoms.

Peak: As a bodybuilder prepares for a contest, he/she cuts body fat to an unusually low level to bring out maximum muscularity that can be maintained for only a short time, usually only a few days.

Peptide: A compound made up of two or more amino acids. Protein molecules are broken down into peptides in the gut and absorbed in that form.

Performance: In respect of sport refers to the capacity to perform work in relation to that specific activity, includes time, speed, intensity, distance, etc.

Periodization: Also called Cycle Training, a predetermined approach to strength and muscle building in which bodybuilders train light for several weeks, then heavier, and then really heavy, and the process is cycled. Aids burnout and avoiding injury.

Physiological: Pertaining to all the functions of an animal or man.

Phytochemical: Means ‘plant chemical’, and used to refer to a broad spectrum of bioactive plant compounds which may have some health benefits.

Pineal Gland: An endocrine gland that functions mainly in the secretion of melatonin and a few other hormones.

Placebo Effect: Refers to when people use a substance believing it works, thereby it does (or is believed to) produce the desired effect.

Placebo: A harmless, inactive substance which may be given in the place of an effective drug or substance, especially to control groups in clinical studies, to test if the drug or compound in question is effective.

Polypeptides: Proteins formed by the union of many amino acids.

Polysaccharides: Carbohydrates containing a large number of sugars. Starch, glycogen, multidextrose, and cellulose are examples.

Polyunsaturated Fats: These contain more than one open spot on the chain length. As a percentage of total fat intake these may be beneficial, and include sunflower and soya oil as good sources.

Polyuria: Excessively large production of urine, meaning that you need to go to the toilet more than usual.

PPWO: This stands for post post workout and refers to second nutritional intake after working out.

Prebiotics: These are certain nutrients and constituents of food that our gut flora feed on, promoting growth of ‘good’ bacterial colonies in our gut, leading to an increase in their numbers. Prebiotics include fructo-oligosaccharides (FOS) and some other soluble fibres found in pulses, fruit and some cereal products.

Precursors: Compounds from which another compound is formed. For example, the hormone androstenedione is a direct precursor to testosterone production in the body.

Probiotics: These are live strains of ‘good’ bacteria, e.g. bifidus and acidopilus. The bacteria are cultured in live yoghurts, powders or specially formulated probiotic drinks which contain one or more of these strains.

Progressive Overload: Gradually adding more resistance during strength training exercises as your strength increases.

Pro-Hormones: Chemicals that are direct precursors to hormone production. For example DHEA is a pro-hormones to testosterone.

Prostaglandins: Chemicals produced in the body which exhibit a wide range of actions on things like blood pressure, water balance, immune system reactions, inflammation, etc.

Protein Digestibility-Corrected Amino Acid Scoring (PDCAAS): A highly accurate method of assessing protein quality, taking into account the profile of essential amino acids of the protein in question, as well as its digestibility in humans, rather than in rats. It is the method of assessing protein quality adopted by the World Health Organisation / Food and Agriculture Organisation (WHO/FAO) and the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

Protein Efficiency Ratio (PER): A measure of protein quality assessed by determining how well a given protein supports weight gain in laboratory animals: namely, rats.

Proteins: Nitrogen-containing compounds found in all animal and vegetable tissues. They are made up of amino acids and are essential for growth and repair in the body. One gram of protein contains four calories.

Psychological: Pertaining to the mind and thought process.

Pump: The look and feeling a bodybuilder experiences when his/her muscles engorge with blood and tissue fluid as the result of intense exercise.

Pure: Used to refer to supplements that are unaltered; i.e. have no other ingredient in them except that which is stated on the label.

PWO: This stands for post workout and refers to post workout nutrition. This will generally consist of protein and simple carbs for recovery and repair e.g. whey, water and glucose.

Rep: A single concentric and eccentric movement of an exercise e.g. one bicep curl.

RHR: This stands for resting heart rate. The best time to find out your resting heart rate is in the morning, after a good night’s sleep, and before you get out of bed. Typical RHR among the untrained is between 60 and 80 beats per minute.

Ripped: A condition of extremely low body fat with superior muscle separation and vascularity. Variations include sliced, cut and striated.

RMR: See Basal Metabolic Rate

Saturated Fats: These are bad dietary fats. They are called saturated because they contain no open spots on their chain. They have been shown to raise cholesterol levels in the body, as a percentage of total fat intake.

Semi-Elemental Nutrition: This is nutrition of partially digested nutrients, including amino acids and oligopeptides, mono- and oligosaccharides, fatty acids, vitamins and minerals.

Set: A unit of exercise measurement consisting of a movement that is repeated a desired number of times.

Shredded: To get ripped, to have extremely low body fat with superior muscle separation. Also sliced, cut and striated.

Spotting: Standing by, alert and ready to assist promptly if called upon by someone performing an exercise.

Stacking: Refers to taking two or more compounds at once in an attempt to maximise results.

Starch: A storage polysaccharide in plants and the only one digestible by humans.

Sublingual: Means to ingest something beneath the tongue.

Substrates: Chemical substances or compounds changed in an enzyme-controlled reaction; fuels in metabolic pathways.

Sucrose: More commonly known as table sugar and is derived from sugar cane or beet. It is a disaccharide of fructose and glucose. Eating sucrose elicits a rapid insulin response.

Supplement: A term used to describe a preparation that has nutritional value of contains a ‘natural’ substance reported to have health benefits with little or no side effects. Supplements are used as part of a person’s diet to supply adequate or optimum levels of a nutrient, anutrient or nutraceutical.

Synergistic Effect: Refers to the outcome when things a number of substances work in unison with one another, and the overall effect is greater than the sum of each substance used on its own. One compound could enhance or multiply the effectiveness of another compound. For example B-vitamins; creatine plus carbohydrates; the ephedrine / caffeine / aspirin (eca) stack.

Synthesis: The formation of a new product from other compounds.

Tabata Training: Unique style of exercise involving periods of work and rest. More about Tabata here.

Testes: The male reproductive organs. A pair of endocrine organs found in males that secrete the hormones that regulate male characteristics, mainly testosterone.

Testosterone: An androgenic / anabolic hormone produced primarily by the testes, responsible for male characteristics including muscle anabolism.

Taurine: 2-aminoethanesulfonic acid – a derivative of the sulphur containing amino acid cysteine. As a supplement it’s been shown to reduce fatigue, increase exercise capacity, aid thermoregulation and improve concentration.

Thermogenic: Refers to something that causes heat production. Taking a thermogenic agent will speed up the metabolism, raise core body temperature, and accelerate fat mobilisation.

Trace Elements: Minerals essential to the body but only in minute amounts, e.g. selenium, copper.

Triglyceride / Triacyleglycerol (TG): The scientific name for common dietary fat. TGs consist of a backbone of glycerol connected to three fatty acids. Triglycerides are also called fats or lipids.

Tripeptides: Protein fragments of three amino acids in length.

Turnover Rate: The rate of collective processes of synthesis and degradation of a compound or group of compounds.

Unsaturated Fats: These lack one or more carbons, and are divided into polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats.

Up-regulate: Means to increase. For example, creatine monohydrate appears to have the ability to up-regulate muscle’s ability to replenish energy stores.

Vascular: The visibility of veins on a bodybuilder as a result of exercise and low body fat (and perhaps higher blood volume).

Vitamins: These micronutrients are organic compounds that are vital to life. Many vitamins function as coenzymes, supporting a multitude of biological and biochemical functions.

VLCD (Very low calorie diet): Commercial supplement formula regimen designed to promote rapid weight loss.

VO2 Max: This is the maximum volume of oxygen an individual can consume per unit of work. It is used as a measure of an athlete’s cardiovascular efficiency and performance capacity.

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