1 repetition maximum

The maximum amount of weight you can lift on one attempt


To move a limb away from the centre of the body


To move a limb towards the centre of the body

Aerobic capacity

The ability to process oxygen for conversion to energy

Amino acid pool

A collective term for the "free" amino acids (ie not forming proteins) circulating around the body and available for use by the body

Anabolic hormone

Any chemical messenger molecule in the body that promotes tissue (and particularly muscle) synthesis

Anabolic steroids

A family of synthetic drugs derived from the male sex hormone testosterone and which are used to promote muscle growth

Synonyms: Anabolic steroid, anabolic androgenic steroids, AAS
Antagonist/agonist muscles

An agonist is the muscle that contracts to allow movement, and the antagonist is the opposite muscle that normally relaxes to allow this movement

Synonyms: Antagonist/agonist muscle
Anterior Cruciate Ligament

One of two vertical bone-to-bone bands that stabilise the knee

Synonyms: ACL

A molecule produced by the immune system that is designed to attack and overcome a foreign "invader" (antigen)


A molecule that can induce the formation of an antibody (see above)

Asymptotic progression

The record for an event falls along a curve that flattens out gradually with time

Atrial fibrillation

A rapid heart rate in which the upper heart chambers (atria) are stimulated to contract in a very disorganised and abnormal manner

Autonomic nervous system

Governs bodily functions that are not under conscious control - eg heartbeat

Avulsed tooth

A tooth that has been completely knocked out of the mouth, with both tooth and root intact

Blood lactate

A by-product of intense exercise, indicating that insufficient oxygen is available to fuel that exercise and leading to muscular fatigue

Body mass

The constituent weights of the body, ie lean (non-fat) and fat weight

Body Mass Index

A mathematical formula that expresses the relationship between height and weight, defined as weight in kilograms divided by height in metres squared (ie kg/m2). It is a measure of how appropriate your weight is for your height. A BMI of 20-25 is considered healthy; 25-30 is overweight and 30+ is obese.

Synonyms: BMI
Calcium ion

A calcium atom carrying two positive charges


Increased capillarisation is an increase in the number of the smallest blood vessels transporting blood to the bodily tissues

Cardiovascular warm-up

Any activity that involves large muscle groups, is fairly rhythmic in nature, and causes an increase in the body's core temperature


Reduced performance under pressure conditions


Relating to intellectual faculties of knowing, thinking or perceiving

Colonic environment

The environment in the intestine


A muscle exerting force when shortening

Concentric muscular contraction

A muscular contraction where a muscle shortens to produce force


A group in a scientific study that undergoes the same experimental conditions as the "treatment group" but doesn't receive the treatment under investigation - eg calcium supplements. The control group's results are used as a baseline against which those of the treatment group can be compared

Counter-movement jump

An example of an SSC, in which you squat and then jump up as high as possible


An end product of normal muscle metabolism, which is produced at a measurable and predictable rate after exercise

Cross linking

A process whereby protein molecules become chemically linked to their neighbours and which is associated with degeneration - eg the appearance of lines and wrinkles on the skin as ageing occurs


A sequence of molecules (nucleic acids) found in the nuclei of all cells. DNA stores the genetic code, which is the blueprint for genetic make-up

Double blind

A study in which neither the subjects nor the investigators know who is receiving the active treatment and who the placebo. Double blind studies help eliminate bias on the part of scientists and "the placebo effect" in subjects

Dynamic warm-up

A series of movements (including bouncing and skipping) that are designed to actively prepare the muscles for performance and are performed in a safe and controlled fashion


A muscle exerting force when lengthening

Elastic energy

Energy stored in the connective tissue


Mineral salts carrying an electrical charge, which are naturally present in the body and are needed for the regulation of muscle contractions and other functions

Synonyms: Electrolyte

A technique that measures muscular activity in terms of (electrical) neural activity

Synonyms: EMG
Endocrine system

The system that orchestrates chemical communication in the body produced by hormones

Energy expenditure of physical activity

Energy burned during exercise and everyday physical activity

Synonyms: EEPA

Proteins synthesised in the body that speed up or facilitate biochemical reactions that would otherwise occur too slowly, or not at all

Essential fatty acids

Certain types of fats that cannot be synthesised in the body, but which are essential for health (ie they have to be obtained from the diet)

Synonyms: Essential fatty acid
Excess post-exercise oxygen consumption

Elevation of RMR in response to training

Synonyms: EPOC
Fast-twitch muscle fibre

Also known as "white" muscle fibre, which contracts two to three times faster than slow- twitch muscle fibre, producing 30-70 twitches per second. There are two basic types of fast-twitch fibre, type IIa and type IIb. The latter are the turbochargers in your muscular machinery, while both have the potential to become more powerful


connective tissue cells that can be transformed into the types of cells needed to repair body tissues

Synonyms: Fibroblast

A chronic disorder characterised by widespread musculoskeletal pain, fatigue, and multiple tender points

Forced vital capacity

The maximal volume of air that can be forcefully blown out after a maximal inspiration


A toxic chemical (CH2O) that harms cells and DNA when ingested or produced in the body

Free radical

a highly unstable, short-lived molecule or molecule fragment that can cause extensive damage to cells


A general term for a sugar or sugar chain chemically bonded to proteins or fats in the body

Synonyms: Glycoconjugate

A "giant" molecule used for carbohydrate storage in the muscle and liver, consisting of large numbers of glucose units linked together to form an insoluble matrix of readily available carbohydrate

Glycogen fixation

The process whereby glycogen is manufactured from carbohydrate and locked into muscle cells


Refers to glycolysis, an energy-liberating biochemical pathway that starts with glycogen or glucose and results in the formation of a substance called pyruvate


Compounds consisting of a sugar or sugar chain bonded to a protein

Synonyms: Glycoprotein

The process of adding a sugar or sugar chain to a protein or fat, which normally occurs on the surfaces of cells

Growth hormone

A hormone that promotes growth of the long bones in the limbs and increases protein production by the body

Growth plates

The area of growing tissue near the ends of the long bones in children and adolescents. These plates determine the future length and shape of the mature bone

Synonyms: Growth plate

A collection of clotted blood within the tissues which usually forms a swelling


A substance contained in red blood cells that is responsible for transporting oxygen around the body


Large molecules manufactured in the body that act as "chemical messengers", instructing certain types of cell on what to do.

Synonyms: Hormone

Growth of lean tissue (particularly muscle) in response to training

In vitro

Experiments carried out in test tubes using cell extracts as opposed to in live animals or humans (in vivo)


ITBS is excessive friction between your Iliotibial Band and your knee (or hip) bone. It causes a sharp pain at either the side of your knee or the side of your hip and is usually caused by increasing your running or biking too fast and/or with bad form.

Synonyms: Iliotibial Band Syndrome

A metabolic intermediary produced (mainly) during intense exercise when the demand for energy in the muscles outstrips that which can be produced by aerobic metabolism. The point at which lactate begins to accumulate is often referred to as the "lactate threshold"

Lean body mass

Body mass excluding fat

Linear progression

The record for an event, plotted against time, falls roughly along a straight line


A type of immune cell that surrounds and kills microorganisms, removes dead cells and stimulates the action of other immune system cells

Maximal voluntary ventilation

The maximal volume an individual can breath in a fixed time period (expressed as litres per minute) by optimising the depth and speed of breaths in and out

Synonyms: MVV

Bone-to-bone connector on the knee's inside edge

Medicine ball

A weighted ball that can be thrown and caught for training purposes


The knee's flat shock absorbers


A type of scientific study that analyses pooled data from a number of previous studies


The breakdown of complex organic constituents of the body with the liberation of energy that is required for other processes


Naturally occurring compounds in the body that are produced when nutrients or other substances undergo a biochemical transformation


Naturally occurring compounds that are produced in the body when nutrients or other substances undergo a biochemical transformation as part of metabolism

Synonyms: Metabolite
Motor neurones

Nerves that conduct the electrical signals required for muscles to contract

Synonyms: Motor neurone
Muscle biopsy

A method of mechanically removing a small slither of tissue from a muscle for analysis

Muscle transporter protein

A protein molecule that sits in the cell wall and facilitates the passage of substances in or out of the cell

Neural activity

Occurs when muscles are recruited (switched on) by electrical signals sent from the brain via the spinal cord (the reaction that then occurs within the muscles is chemical). The greater the neural stimulus, the greater the amount of muscle fibre recruited

Neural adaptations

Developments in the ability of the central nervous system to recruit and activate muscles for movement

Synonyms: Neural adaptation
Neural circuits

Networks of nerves and their connections

Synonyms: Neural circuit

A branch of medical science dealing with the functioning of the nervous system


Chemicals secreted by nerve endings that enable nerve cells to communicate with each other


Nerve fibres normally dedicated to sensing intense or threatening stimuli

Synonyms: Nociceptor
Operant conditioning

A way of influencing behaviour that forms an association between that behaviour and a positive or negative consequence


Involving the aerobic production of energy or breakdown of fuels

Oxidative stress

A series of reactions to increased use of oxygen, including the production of potentially harmful "free radicals"


A means of planning and programming exercise training which takes account of the training principles of "detraining" and "overload"


A layer of dense connective tissue that covers the surface of a bone

Peripheral nerves

Nerves outside of the spinal cord (as opposed to inside)

Synonyms: Peripheral nerve

Inflammation of a vein, usually accompanied by pain, swelling and tenderness


A dummy pill (or other form of treatment) which is designed to look (and taste) like the treatment under investigation but is biologically "inert" - ie it has no effects whatsoever. Normally taken by subjects in a control group (see above)

Plantar fasciitis

Foot arch pain

Plyometric exercise

An explosive form of exercise, often involving jumping movements, that utilises the muscle's ability to stretch then contract rapidly to produce more force


Prebiotics are non-digestible food ingredients that stimulate the growth and/or activity of bacteria in the digestive system which are beneficial to the health of the body. They were first identified and named by Marcel Roberfroid in 1995.

Synonyms: Prebiotic

Training designed to build a base level of conditioning to prepare the body for participation in sport or physical training


A molecule used as a building block for another molecule


Substances (sometimes used by athletes) that don't have a significant hormonal effect in themselves but which can be metabolised into active hormones once ingested

Synonyms: Pro-hormone

Probiotics are dietary supplements of live microorganisms thought to be healthy for the host organism. Lactic acid bacteria (LAB) and bifidobacteria are the most common types of microbes used as probiotics; but also certain yeasts and bacilli are available.

Synonyms: Probiotic

Awareness of the position of your limbs and body in three- dimensional space


Compounds with hormone-like activity, synthesised in the body from essential fatty acids in the diet

Synonyms: Prostaglandin

A chemical technique of replacing an atom in a molecule with a radioactive atom (usually of the same type) so that the movement of the molecule can be tracked in the body

Randomised controlled trial

The "gold standard" form of scientific trial in which each participant is assigned through a randomised procedure to either an active treatment or placebo

Synonyms: RCT
Recommended Daily Allowance

Recommended Daily Allowance or RDA; the daily amount of a nutrient required to produce health and prevent deficiency diseases

Synonyms: RDA

A well-planned activity that matches the situational needs of an athlete in rest and results in regaining an optimal performance state

Repetition Maximum

The maximal amount of work that can be performed for a given number of repetitions. For example, 1RM is the most weight that can be lifted once. 8RM is the most weight that can be lifted 8 times consecutively

Synonyms: RM
Resistance training

Any form of training that involves an action performed against resistance

Respiratory Exchange Ratio

Ratio of carbon dioxide produced to oxygen consumed

Synonyms: RER
Resting Metabolic Rate

The amount of energy expended by the body in maintaining vital processes, eg respiration, circulation and digestion

Synonyms: RMR

Pain emanating from the sciatic nerve, typically experienced in the regions of the back, buttock and leg, down to the foot

Sensory information

Any information coming from your senses including signals from the body


A sudden, specific increase caused by a certain stimulus

Static stretching

A stretch that is taken to the point of slight muscular tension and held for 15-20 seconds


Particular types of hormones which exert powerful physiological effects in the body

Synonyms: Steroid
Strength training

Resistance training specifically geared to developing muscle function and/or growth; typically involves free weights or resistance machines

Stretch-shortening cycle

A movement that involves an eccentric muscle contraction immediately followed by a concentric contraction

Synonyms: SSC

Just below the skin

Synonyms: Subcutaneou

An area just below the bottom of the scapular (shoulder blade)


An area just above the hip bone, level with a vertical line taken from the front of the shoulder

Temporomandibular joint

The hinge mechanism just in front of the ear(s), which allows the lower jaw to open and close

Thermic effect of feeding

Energy cost of all the processes involved in the consumption and digestion of food

Synonyms: TEF
Tooth crown

The white part of the tooth that is visible in the mouth

Tooth root

The yellow part of the tooth, anchoring tooth to bone, that is not normally visible in the mouth

Total daily energy expenditure

Total energy expended over the course of a day

Synonyms: TDEE

A fat storage and transport molecule, consisting of glycerol bonded to three fatty acids

Synonyms: Triglyceride
Vascular damage

Cellular damage within the walls of blood vessels, which can lead to such conditions as coronary heart disease

Venous perfusion

The filling of veins with blood


Maximal oxygen uptake, defined as the maximum amount of oxygen in millilitres a person can use in one minute per kg of body weight.