English Vocabulary for Gym and Exercise

Get in shape
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To “get in shape” is to exercise and eat healthy with the goal of attaining a person’s ideal weight.

“This spring I’m going to work out and get in shape so I can wear a bikini on the beach.”

To work out
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This can mean a variety of things. When a person goes to the gym to either lift weights or do cardiovascular exercises it can be referred to as “to workout”. Some people do refer to working out as just the act of lifting weights.

“We are going to work out at the gym around 9:00 AM tomorrow.

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A workout
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This is a session where people spend time exercising to maintain or improve physical health. A workout can range from lifting weights to using a treadmill or a stationary bicycle.

“I had a great workout yesterday. I was exhausted when I got home.

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Bench press/to bench
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A “bench press” is a weight lifting exercise where a person lies down on his back on a bench that holds a barbell. He takes the barbell with two hands and lowers it to his chest and then extends his arms to raise the weight. This movement is repeated 8 to 15 times. The act of doing this exercise is “to bench”.

“To really build strength you need to bench press every time you work out.”

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Barbell
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This is the long metal bar that weight lifters attach the circular weights to when working out.

“I use a 45 pound barbell when I bench press.”

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Dumbbell
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A dumb bell is the same idea as a barbell, but it is smaller. They can be grasped with one hand. People will use dumbbells to work out one arm at a time.

“I usually work out my arms with dumbbells.”

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Feel the burn
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When a person exercises a specific muscle to a point where there is a burning sensation it is called “feeling the burn”.

“I added some extra weight to really feel the burn.”

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Max out
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When a person lifts as much weight as possible for one repetition of a specific exercise it is called “maxing out”.

“Sometimes I will max out on the bench press to impress my friends.”

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To spot/ get a spot
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When a person is maxing out or just lifting a lot of weight in general he will need a person to stand near him to help with the weight if it becomes to heavy to handle. This is called “getting a spot”. If someone wants to bench as much as he can he will ask a friend to “spot” him so the barbell doesn’t come crashing down on his chest.

“You are going to have to get a spot if plan on lifting that much weight!”

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Nautilus equipment
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These are machines that provide resistance to work on different muscle groups.

“I use the nautilus equipment when I just want to get an aerobic workout.”
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Free weights
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This is a term that describes the dumbbells, barbells and the circular weight discs that go on the bars. Free weights can describe anything that is used for weight lifting that is not a machine.

“I prefer the free weights over the nautilus machines.

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Bulk up
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To lift weights with the goal of gaining muscle mass and overall weight.

“Before the football season the athlete decided to bulk up.”

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Personal Trainer
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Most gyms will have a staff members who will help you come up with a workout plan. These people are called “personal trainers”. They motivate you and walk you through the workout.

“Last summer Mary really wanted to look good in a bathing suite. She decided to get a personal trainer that would help push her.”



Worksheets to Practice

  • Conversation Exercise for Workout Expressions
  • Script for Conversation Activity on Exercise Vocabulary
  • Gym Vocabulary Listening Activity
  • Gym Vocabulary Fill in the Blanks
  • Gym and Exercise Vocabulary Word Order
  • Exercise Vocabulary Fill in the Blanks
  • Gym and Exercise Matching