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Speech of the Week: Know the Nomenclatures

Updated: May 19

“Alright guys, here’s what I have planned for you today:

As always, do your number 1 glute activation, then spend about 1 minute on knees-over-toes ankle stretching on a tall box.  

Then you’ll go right into an SAQ circuit, 10 reps footwork, 8 reps upper, then 6 on the lower drill, 3 rounds, minimal rest. 

Take a quick sip then we’re moving on to strength:

We’re going for a standard strength curve on approach to 2 working sets of a 5-8 RM followed by a BO set, so you’ll really get to unleash what you can do.  

Do take a few warm-ups (8-12 reps) and ramp-ups (5-8 reps) so you feel confident then hit it.  Rest is 60-120s, more as the load gets heavier.”

Did that sound a little jargony? 

If you’re new to strength training you’re probably wondering “what the heck??” 

But if you look a little closer, and take some time to get to know it, it’s actually very precise communication that leads to great results.  

Remember high school chemistry? 

Chemical symbols and equations are just precise shorthand to describe something that’s fairly complex.  But accidentally mix up two elements that share a letter and you’re in for a surprise!  

Similarly, the training world is FULL of exercise names, shorthand, and distinct categories.  Everyone who trains needs to know the names, and know the nomenclature.

Some things tend to be more standardized than others.  For example, rounds, sets, and reps are similar but distinct quantities; they also are integrally intertwined with rest intervals, although that’s a different category entirely.  So all of the above will frequently be presented together.  

Some shorthand is more universal than others. 

“DB” is pretty safe to read as “dumb bell”. 

(if you don’t know what a dumb bell is, than that just goes to further illustrate the importance of knowing the names, knowing the nomenclature) 

B/O however, could stand for “back-off” or could be “bent-over”, context plays heavily.  BW is frequently “body-weight".

Further down the spectrum, shorthand could be very personal to you or your coach, but it still pays to learn it.  I personally use a large amount of numerals and characters combined with sub and superscripts while recording progress during a workout that can be accurately interpreted after the fact.  Accurate note-taking facilitates progress instead of wandering in circles.  

Most of all though, get familiar with exercise names!  Yes, there is potential for a lot of variance out there and a LOT of different fitness personalities enjoy naming creative and unique exercises with descriptive and sometimes bizarre monikers.  But the majority of the most important exercises that you will use are relatively standard.  

(Yes, you do need to know the difference between a Goblet Squat, a Front Squat, a Back Squat, a Double-Racked KB Front Squat, and a Box Squat, etc.)

Put a little bit of attention into your learning as you go so it sticks, and it will pay dividends down the road.  

Oh, and bonus: here’s that workout from introduction in short-hand in case you want to do it yourself!  

0.  W/U: ankle mobility and glute activation, do 1-2 sets of 10 each.  

1. Speed, Agility, and Quickness (SAQ) Circuit

Do the following circuit with minimal rest x 3 rounds. 

  1. Lateral shuffle between cones x 10 (each cone counts as one)  

  2. Medicine Ball Chest Pass to wall x 8

  3. Plyometric Jump in place x 6

2.  OH BB Press: 2 sets x 5-8RM, 1 set x B/O. 

Rest 1-2 minutes between sets and use as many w/u, r/u sets as necessary to feel confident before your heavy sets.  

3.  BB Front Squat: 3 sets x 12 RM x 60s rest.

4.  Conditioning Circuit: Anterior Chain, ascending reps:

Do 4 rounds of the following circuit.  For items a, c, e, you have 60s to complete your rep goal; at the end of that minute you must immediately do the next item.  For items b, d, you must work continuously without rest and immediately transition to the next item.  Set a timer and do the reps prescribed per round.  First round is 10, Second round is 15, Third round is 15, and Fourth round is 20, as noted below.  

  1. Pushups x 10/15/15/20

  2. Side hop line drill x 30s

  3. Prisoner Squat x 10/15/15/20

  4. Jump rope x 30s

  5. Tricep Dips from Bench x 10/15/15/20

  6. Rest x 60s

Progression: first, ensure form is great and that all the required muscles are properly recruited, ie: squats with thighs at least parallel and chest tall, pushups with chest touching the ground, etc. 

Then, to make harder, change reps to 15/15/20/25. 

If you can successfully do that, then reduce rest to 30s between rounds. 


Regression.  Reduce reps to 10 for all exercises, all rounds. 

Increase rest between rounds to 90s.  

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