Knowing exactly what is meant by a certain technique is vital to performing the exercise properly.
And performing the exercise properly is vital to muscle growth and female bodybuilding success.
As a beginner you'll get by with basic reps and sets but as you train and grow you'll want (and need) to know more about more specialised bodybuilding techniques to force your muscles to grow.
Here's our realfemalebodybuilding.com guide to the language of muscle...
This is the specific movement (e.g. seated pulley row, barbell curl, or seated calf raise) that you perform in your bodybuilding workouts.
Reps (short form of Repetition)
This is simply the number of times you lift and lower a weight in one set of an exercise. For example, if you lift and lower a weight 10 times before setting the weight down, you have completed 10 "reps" in one set.
This is a group of reps (lifting and lowering a weight) of an exercise after which you take a brief rest period. If you completed 10 reps, set the weight down, complete eight more reps, set the weight down again, and repeat for six more reps, you have completed three sets of the exercise.
The exercise is listed first, then the number of sets and the number of reps in each set. This is usually 60 seconds but can be 30 or 90 in advanced training. Female bodybuilder Sue Kennedy (pictured above left) says “As soon as you can breathe normally again you're ready!”
This is the pause between sets of an exercise, which allows muscles to recover partially before beginning next set.
Two exercises are performed consecutively without any rest – so
Bench Press - 5 sets of 4 reps
Dumbbell Flyes - 5 sets of 4 reps
then back to Bench Press for the correct number of sets (usually 3-6)
The point in an exercise at which you have so fully fatigued your working muscles that they can no longer complete an additional repetition of a movement with strict biomechanics. You should always take your post-warm-up sets at least to the point of momentary muscular failure, and frequently past that point.
1 Rep Max (1RM)
The maximum you can lift in any particular exercise for one single rep – like a strength test.
Also known as strip sets, drop sets involve the immediate reduction of weight between sets with no rest. This will thoroughly burn out a muscle to absolute failure.
Do a set to failure. Rest for 5 to 10 seconds then do a few more reps with the same weight. Do this once or a few times depending on your energy levels and how far you wish to push. With this technique you can take a weight you can only do for a certain number of reps and increase that amount.
Forced Reps require a training partner and are a frequently used method of extending a set past the point of failure to induce greater gains in muscle mass and quality. With forced reps, a training partner helps you at the very end of an exercise just enough for you to grind out two or three reps past the failure threshold.
One or two partners help you lift a weight up to 10-50% heavier than you would normally lift to finish point of movement. Then you slowly lower weight on your own.
A method of pushing a muscle to keep working far past the point at which it would normally fail to continue contracting due to excessive fatigue buildup. In cheating you will use a controlled body swing, jerk, or otherwise poor exercise form once you have reached the failure point to take some of the pressure off the muscles and allow them to continue a set for two or three repetitions past failure.
Partial Reps (Partials)
Performing an exercise without going through a complete range of motion either at the beginning or end of a rep.
Increasing the weight with each new set while decreasing the number of reps. The weight is then reduced and the reps increased. This is a very basic and effective bodybuilding principle.
Three exercises are performed consecutively without any rest.
Four or more exercises are performed consecutively without any rest. Giant Sets are extremely intense. Great care should be taken when attempting to perform a giant set.
When performing 21s, 7 reps are performed in the lower half of the motion, then 7 reps are performed in the upper half, and the set is finished with 7 complete reps.