Workout Lingo – Everything You Need To Know

16 February 2021
By Jack Coxall

If you’re trying to exercise more, chances are you may be coming across all kinds of fitness expressions that you’ve never heard of before. This can be a bit overwhelming – especially if you’re only just embarking on a fitness journey – but don’t let it discourage you! We’ve put together a quick guide to help you understand what these terms actually mean.

EMOM – Every Minute on the Minute

Once you know what it stands for, it’s fairly obvious what an EMOM workout entails – you will be doing something for every minute of the workout. So, if your workout programme asks for 10 lunges EMOM, you simply start the clock, do the 10 lunges, then rest for the remainder of that minute. Then, you do another 10 reps at the top of the next minute – whether that’s the same exercise, or a different one as part of a circuit.

If you finish the exercises in 40 seconds, then you have 20 seconds of that minute to catch your breath before going again on the next minute. It may start off easy, but as you can imagine, it gets harder pretty quickly!

HIIT – High-Intensity Interval Training

High-intensity interval training, or HIIT, is a training technique in which you exert maximum effort in quick, intense bursts, followed by short periods of rest or active recovery (small amounts of movement, while predominantly resting). The aim of these sessions is to maintain a high heart rate, to promote more efficient fat burning.

EPOC – Excess Post-Exercise Oxygen Consumption

This leads us on nicely to EPOC, which is another abbreviation you may have come across. Put simply, it refers to the idea that after HIIT, the body will use more oxygen than it did during the actual workout itself. Why is this? During HIIT training, the body requires more energy than our aerobic energy system can provide, so it uses anaerobic pathways. Once the HIIT session is complete the body will seek to restore itself to homeostasis (its resting state). As part of this recovery process, the blood will be re-oxygenated, the body temperature will gradually lower and breathing and heart rates will return to normal. This all requires energy, which is why you will continue to burn calories after you’ve finished your HIIT session.


Tabata is similar to HIIT, but follows a slightly more rigid framework, composed of 8 rounds of 20 seconds maximum effort and 10 seconds rest. This style of training is named after the Japanese scientist who developed it, after testing the effectiveness of different methods of exercising. He compared two groups of athletes, one that trained 5 times each week for an hour at moderate intensity and one that did a high-intensity workout lasting 4 minutes and 20 seconds 4 times each week. After 6 weeks, Group 1 showed marked improvements to their aerobic system, but their anaerobic system showed little or no changes. In contrast, Group 2 showed much more of an increase to their aerobic system and their anaerobic system increased by 28%.

A quick example to illustrate the Tabata method for press-ups: you would do as many as you could in 20 seconds, rest for 10 seconds and repeat 8 times. The key is to put maximum effort in for those 20 seconds – giving anything less than 100% in each 20 second burst and it’s not real Tabata, so you won’t feel the benefit!

AMRAP – As many rounds/reps as possible

Popularised by Crossfit, AMRAP workouts can be structured as a shorter or longer workout, depending on your needs. The aim, as you have probably already guessed, is simply to complete as many rounds or reps as possible in the time set.

A really simple example might be 2 minutes of press-ups AMRAP – here, you would need to complete as many press ups as possible in those two minutes. If we’re using rounds instead of reps, we might set the timer for 5 minutes and complete a round of 5 press-ups, 5 squats and 5 burpees as many times as possible before the buzzer goes off.

AMRAP is a great way to work out, because the timer is your coach, you can keep the exercises simple or modify them if you’re in the gym and have enough equipment to get creative. Plus, you can measure your progress easily, by coming back to the same workout every now and then to see how many more rounds or reps you’re able to do compared to when you started.

Try it out yourself

So now you know what they mean, how about trying them out yourself? Here are a few little workouts you could do at home or incorporate into your gym sessions, using the training systems outlined above:

EMOM – 5 minutes

Squats 15

Lunges 6 each leg

Burpees 10

Press ups 10

Plank shoulder taps 40

A minute on each of these everyday exercises with no rest may look easy – but don’t be fooled, you’ll definitely get your sweat on!


Do the exercise for 40 seconds, then rest for 20

Goblet squat

Dynamic lunge to squat

Push to Press

Mountain climbers

Rest for a minute after the mountain climbers and repeat


High knees


Press ups

Mountain climbers

The workout will last 4 minutes and 20 seconds in total. You will spend 20 seconds going flat out on high knees, rest for 10 seconds, then straight into burpees and so on. Repeat the whole round of 4 exercises twice through. Dr Tabata’s experiment proved how effective this can be, so why not try adding a quick Tabata workout to your current fitness programme and see the difference it can make?

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