Bodybuilding Terms

There are some bodybuilding terms I’m finding myself constantly referring to, that people may not be aware of and yet need a further explanation that is possible every time I reference them. So then, I’m creating this page with various bodybuilding terms that I can reference to simply by linking. However, it should be a good read regardless of whether you’re following here from a link, or found the page from some other method.

The terms referenced below are (in regards to bodybuilding):


The dictionary defines Gravity as “the natural force that causes objects to be pulled towards the center of the earth, it causes objects to have weight.”

When weight training, you want to make sure the actual resistance you use travels a path that is straight up and down. Why? Well, no matter where you are on earth, the center is always straight down. With that being the case, it makes sense to get most out of your workout you want to push and/or pull the weight(s) in a motion that is as close to vertical as possible. An great example would be the over-head dumbell press. This exercise is performed with two weights (dumbells). The weights are raised over the head until the arms are nearly locked and them brought back down with arms completely straight. While performing this exercise, you want to make sure you move up and down in a straight, vertical motion. Do not raise the arms slightly diagnol or in a 45 degree angle. Moving the weights straight up and down makes you fight against gravity more and thus helps to ensure greater musclar development.


Fiction is defined as “(1) A rubbing of one object or substance against another. (2) The resistance to motion of moving surfaces that touch.”

Have you ever noticed, while working out with machines, like the smith machine, that you can’t seem to lift the same amount of weight as when you are weight training with free weights? Well this is where friction comes into play. You see, friction on a machine can seriously damage your weight training routine.

When training with machines, you need to take into consideration that you’re not only lifting the weights, but also the extra added weight of some part of the machine, as well as friction from the overall wear and tear that the machine as probably gone through. So how do you know what how much to lift when your working on a machine compared to when lifting free weights? Well there a lot more to you it than you might think. Check back with How To Build for an in-depth analysis of Friction and Weight Training.

Mechanical Advantage

Mechanical Advantage is defined as “the ratio of the force exerted by a machine to the force applied to a machine”.

Now bear with us here, this topic can be a little overwhelming for some but believe us, it’ll be well worth the time trying to understand Mechanical Advantage. Our muscles contract to exert force and our skeletal muscles (made of simple machines like hinges, ball and sockets, etc…) transfer that force into motion. But the force exerted by our muscles (known as input) is not equal to the force we can use to move our bodies or lift other objects (known as output).

You might have heard someone saying that a smaller man (or woman) can lift more than a bigger man (or woman). Why? Well, you see your bone length has a lot to do with your weight training. If you have long bones, you have to move the weight more (either higher or farther) to achieve the same effect as a smaller-boned person would. That means that if you’re taller or bigger than the guy (or gal) next to you, you will have to workout harder , and perhaps longer, to see the same results as the shorter guy or gal.

Power (Training Intensity)

(1). Make sure you use a full range of motion. For example, let’s say your full range of motion on the bench press is 2 1/2 feet, that means that 1 rep (up and down) is 5 feet total. And let’s say that each rep takes 6 seconds (2 up and 4 down). Now if you use 250 lbs for 8 reps the power would be – 250 lbs times 40 ft divided by 48 seconds, which equals 208.3 ft-lb/sec.

Now let’s say you cut 3 inces off the range of motion by not bringing the bar all the way down to your chest, thus taking of 1/2 foot off each rep. So, if all other factors are the same, the above set now looks like this – 250 lbs times 36 ft divided by 48 seconds, which equals 187.4 ft-lb/sec. With less range of motion, Power goes down.

(2) Increase the weight you lift. If, for example, on our full motion bench press (which came out to be 208.3 ft-lb/sec), you were to add 5 lbs to each rep, then the formula woould something like this – 255 lbs times 40 ft divided by 48 seconds, which equals 212.5 ft-lbs/sec. So that means that lifting more weight increases Power.

(3) Decrease time between each set. For example, 3 sets of the bench press using 250 lbs for 8 reps has the workload of – 250 lbs X 40 ft = 10,000 ft-lbs. If these 3 sets are done in 10 minutes (600 seconds), the Power would be 10,000 ft-lbs divided by 600 seconds, which equals 16.7 ft-lbs/sec.

If by decreasing the rest time between each set, those same 3 sets are done in 6 minutes (360 seconds) instead of 10 minutes, now the Power is calculated as – 10,000 ft-lbs divided by 360 seconds, which comes out to be 27.8 ft-lbs.sec. Which means lifting more weight over a full range of motion in less time will greatly increase your overall training intensity (Power level).

The goal with knowing your Power level is to make sure it is increasing, streadily, over time. Try not increase your Power for each exercise too much in a short amount of time as this can lead to serious injury.

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