Shaping up Gym English


Writers of our online essay service created a list of English words and phrases that will be helpful for free communication while exercising at the gym. Fitness-gum slang, running idioms, phrases of famous coaches. Bulk your sports English up!

Words for Gym Exercising


It is a long metal bar, which athletes use to hang special heavy discs (weight plates, disk weights, circular weights.

Bench press / to bench

This is how they call the weightlifting exercise, that is done on a special bench. You need to put your back onto the bench that holds the barbell, take the barbell with both hands, put it down to your chest and then to straighten your hands in order to lift the weight. This move is repeated from 8 to 15 times. The process is often called with the verb “to bench”.

To Bulk Up

This expression means power training with the goal of increasing one’s muscle mass and overall weight.

Chin Ups or Pull Ups

An exercise, when you have to vertically rise your body with your hands using the hanged bar is called “chin up”, or “pull up”.


Dumbbell — is the same as barbell, but smaller in size: you can lift it with one hand. Sportsmen use dumbbells when they need to train each hand separately.

To get in shape

The expression means to train and to eat healthy in order to gain one’s perfect weight and physical shape.

To feel the burn

Sometimes humans train their single muscle till they feel painful feeling, this is called “feeling the burn”.

Free weights

This is the definition for barbells, dumbbells, and weight discs that are used on these bars. “Free weights” may refer to any sports equipment that is used during weightlifting exercises and is NOT a training apparatus.

To max out

When a person lifts the highest weight which is possible for him or her at the moment, this means that he or she “maxes out”.

Nautilus equipment

Nautilus equipment — this is how sportsmen call gear and apparatuses that create the required resistance for working with different muscle groups. To say simpler – these are usual stationary training apparatuses, which can be usually seen at gyms.

Why “Nautilus”? There is no secret. This is the mane of a firm, which came up to the market in 70-th of the past century with the innovational technology of deep workout for separate groups of muscles with the help of power training apparatuses (Nautilus, Inc).

Personal Trainer

There are workers in the most part of gyms, who help visitors to create training plans and keep an eye on their progress. These workers are proudly named as “personal trainers”. Their task is to motivate you and to help you during exercises (thank them for that!).

To pump iron

If you lift weights at the gym in order to make your muscles stronger, have no doubts, you “pump the iron”.

To shape up

When you have a wish to work on your body in order to improve its appearance and physical abilities, you can say that you are going to “shape yourself up”.

Sit ups / to sit up

To sit up (to lift the upper part of your body from the position when you lay on the back) – is a great way to make your stomach muscles stronger and looking well.

To spot

When you want to max out, or just lift a heavy barbell, you need a person who will stand nearby and help you if you won’t be able to lift that heavy weight on your own. This means “to spot (somebody)”. If someone needs to “max out on a bench”, then he or she can ask a friend “to spot him/her”, so the barbell couldn’t fall on their chest.


Exercise series that can strengthen or improve human body’s physical condition. Exercises can include weightlifting, treadmill or stationary bicycle exercises.

To work out

This is how you can call different kinds of exercises. No matter how you work out: you can visit the gym and pump the iron, or you need to have some cardio-training, it all can be described with this phrasal verb.

The expression was a feature of American English, though nowadays it is widely used in England as well.

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