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Helpful Terms to See the Bigger Picture


When discussing the terms we might use at the gym on the daily, it’s a very good idea to become familiar with at least the basics.

Intensity: Also known as “absolute intensity,” it is the amount of resistance presented during a movement. Measured as force, and usually expressed in pounds or kilograms. Thus the intensity of a 335lb squat for one easy rep is higher than the intensity of a 315lb squat. 

Volume: The amount of total mechanical work done during a rep, set, exercise session, week, or any other measurement of training time. It can be measured precisely by multiplying the sets, reps, and weight.

Frequency: The number of training sessions performed within a certain unit of time, usually measured within the week.

Exercise Selection: The actual name of the exercise, or exercises, used in a training session. For example, it is a true statement to say that you just trained legs, but a more precise statement would explain that you did squats or deadlifts.

Training Session: A single bout of training which can be done multiple times per week or even multiple times per day. Each training session generally has a warm up, a working phase, and a distinct end which may or may not involve a cool down.

Light Session: A session of training that is intentionally non-overloading and relatively easy to accomplish. The purpose of a light session is to enhance the process of recovery/adaptation while mitigating the loss of technique, muscle size, and strength. Light sessions are typically characterized by a reduction in volume and/or intensity.

Off Day: A day during which no training sessions occur.

Accumulation Phase: A series of sequential microcycles during which training gets progressively harder, which occurs through an increase in either volume, intensity, or both.

Deload Phase: Most commonly referred to just as a “deload,” it is an entire microcycle composed of light sessions of various sorts, the purpose of which is to reduce fatigue while preserving adaptations. For a deload to be effective in meaningfully brining down fatigue, its reduction of volume and intensity from normal accumulation training must be marked and non-trivial.

Mesocycle: An organized sequence of microcycles ordered to elicit a set of distinct training adaptations. The typical mesocycle is composed of two distinct phases, an accumulation phase, which usually lasts for three to five weeks and a deload phase, which usually lasts for about a week. The typical mesocycle usually lasts for about a month or in our case at MadLab, 6 weeks, 

Strength: The maximal ability to produce force. Measured typically in pounds or kilos.

Periodization: The logical sequencing of training variables for the purpose of eliciting maximal adaptations, reducing injury rates, and peaking the athlete for best performance at a particular time of his/ her choosing. The final product of applied periodization is a properly constructed macrocycle of training that leads to beneficial results.

Flexibility: The range of motion possible in a joint, muscle action, or a series of joints involved in a specific task.

Technique: The execution of a lift in the proper sequence and form of movement (positions and motions of the trunk and all limbs) to move the weight with both maximal effect and reasonable safety. All lifters are built differently and thus no one will have identical technique and there is no such thing as ideal technique, but large commonalities of basic execution will apply to all body types.

Mobility: The intersection of technique, strength, and flexibility. A lifter can be said to be properly mobile in the squat if they have the flexibility and strength to hit all of the necessary positions with good technique. It is possible that someone is perfectly strong and flexible but lacks the technical ability (usually knowledge of correct technique or lack of practice with the correct technique) to execute a lift properly. It is possible that a very strong and technical lifter can be considered improperly mobile because he is not sufficiently flexible enough to execute the proper range of motion of the lift with good technique. It can also be just as true that a very flexible and technical person who lacks the necessary strength to maintain proper technique during some parts of the range of motion is also not properly mobile. Of course, any combination of deficiencies in the technique, strength, or flexibility needed to execute the lift with proper technique through its full range of motion can also contribute to improper mobility.

Coach Tom

Original article courtesy of Juggernaut Training Systems