The Greatist Glossary

Welcome to The Greatist Glossary, our collection of the most common health and fitness terms, all broken down into short, easy-to-understand explanations.

How does it work? Simply browse through the entries below or click on a specific letter in the alphabet. When you find something you're interested in, click the "Learn more..." link to visit the full glossary entry, where you can check out the most important information related to each given term and some super useful links. 

This is an ongoing project that we're always updating. Think we're missing something important? Let us know by sending us an e-mail or a tweet, and we'll be sure to add it in!

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Alcohol

Alcohol is a depressant (a drug that slows down the nervous system) and is the component of beer, wine, and spirits that gets people drunk. Learn more...

Antioxidant

Antioxidants are nutrients that protect cells by preventing or slowing the damage that oxygen can cause to the body. 

Bench Press

The bench press is a compound exercise that mainly exercises the chest, triceps, and shoulders.  Learn more...

Bodyweight Exercise

Bodyweight exercises use only the body’s own weight as resistance, rather than using weights or machines. Learn more...

Burpee

Sometimes called “squat thrusts,” this challenging bodyweight move combines a plank and a squat to exercise almost all of the body's muscles. Learn more...

Caffeine

Caffeine is a stimulant found in many foods and beverages such as coffee, tea, and some sodas. Learn more...

Calcium

Calcium is a mineral that’s necessary for the proper function of nerves, muscles, and hormones. Nearly all of the body's calcium is stored in the bones and teeth, keeping them strong and healthy. Learn more...

Calorie

A calorie is the amount of energy necessary to raise the temperature of one gram of water by one degree Celsius. Learn more...

Carbohydrate

Carbohydrates are nutrients that the body converts into glucose, a sugar that fuels all of the bodily functions. Learn more...

Cardio

Short for "cardiovascular exercise," cardio can refer to any exercise that increases the heart and breathing rate. Learn more...

Circuit Training

Circuit training describes high intensity workouts that consist of several different exercises and little to no rest between movements. Learn more...

Compound exercise

A compound exercise is a movement that uses multiple muscles and joints at the same time. Learn more...

Creatine

Creatine is a common exercise supplement that’s used to provide a quick energy boost and to increase the strength and size of muscles. Learn more...

CrossFit

CrossFit is a strength and conditioning method where exercisers perform functional movements (squats, kettlebell swings, and running, to name a few) at high intensity. Learn more...

Deadlift

A deadlift is a compound exercise that typically involves lifting a barbell off of the ground with a straight back. Learn more...

Depression

Though it’s not uncommon to feel sad now and then, depression describes a sadness that is severe and/or long-lasting enough to interfere with daily life, routines, and relationshipsLearn more...

Fat

Fat is one of the three main nutrients, or “macronutrients,” that people eat (along with protein and carbohydrates), and it contains the most calories Dietary fat is essential to maintain our hormonescholesterol levelsorgan function, and nutrient absorption. Learn more...

Fiber

Fiber is an indigestible part of food that helps us poop regularly, keeping our bowels and intestines healthy. Learn more...

Foam Rolling

Foam rolling is a popular form of self-myofascial release (SMR), a type of therapy that prevents injury and stiffness by concentrating on the connective tissue surrounding muscle. Learn more...

Gluten

Gluten is a protein found in all forms of wheat, rye, barley, and triticale. Learn more...

Glycemic Index

The glycemic index measures how carbohydrates affect blood sugar levels. Learn more...

Hangover

A hangover is the discomfort a person feels the day after a period of heavy drinking. Learn more...

Hip Flexor

Hip flexors are a group of muscles located in the front of the hip that act to pull the knee upward (for example, when running in place and pumping the knees as high as possible). Learn more...

Interval Training

Interval training alternates periods of moderate-to high-intensity effort (such as sprinting) with periods of low- to moderate-intensity effort (like walking or jogging). Learn more...

Isolation Exercise

An isolation exercise is a movement that emphasizes building strength in a single muscle or muscle group. Learn more...

Isometric Exercise

This is a kind of exercise that involves holding a position, without moving, for a period of time. Learn more...

Kettlebell

A kettlebell resembles a bowling ball with a handle and is a popular tool for improving strength, flexibility, and endurance. Learn more...

Medicine Ball

A medicine ball is a weighted ball that’s often used in strength training. Learn more...

Meditation

Meditation is the practice of taking a break from our daily activity and quieting the mind’s thoughts. Learn more...

Metabolism

The body’s metabolism is the system that converts calories into energy. Learn more...

Organic

Organic produce has been created without the use of synthetic fertilizers, irradiation, or genetic engineering. Organic animal products can’t be made with antibiotics or growth hormones, and the animals must be fed organic food. Learn more...


Paleo

The paleo diet is based on what the first humans probably ate: vegetables, meat, fruit, and nuts. Learn more...

Pilates

Pilates is a total body workout that focuses primarily on improving core strength. Learn more...

Plank

This bodyweight exercise targets the abdominal muscles while developing strength in the shoulders, arms, and glutes. Learn more...

Protein

Protein is a nutrient that helps the body build and repair tissue, especially muscles. Learn more...

Pull-Up

A pull-up is a compound exercise that targets the entire upper body, primarily the back. Learn more...

Push-Up

A push-up is a compound exercise that’s great for increasing full body strength, but primarily works the chest and triceps. Learn more...

R.E.M.

REM, or Rapid Eye Movement, is the fifth and last phase of a normal sleep cycle, signifying deep, restful sleep. Learn more...

Resistance Bands

Usually resembling giant rubber bands with handles on either end, these very portable pieces of strength equipment use elastic tension, rather than weight, to work the muscles. Learn more...

Stability Ball

A stability ball is a large, squishy ball that’s used during workouts to improve strength and balance. Learn more...

Strength Training

Strength training (often used interchangeably with “resistance training”) is the process of stressing the body (usually with weights, resistance bands, or the bodyweight) to increase a muscle’s size, strength, and/or endurance. Learn more...

Stress (Anxiety)

Stress is the brain’s response to any demand, typically those that disrupt a person’s normal life and routines. Learn more...

Superset

Supersets involve doing multiple exercises without resting in between. Learn more...

Tabata

A kind of interval training, the basic formula for a Tabata routine is 20 seconds of intense work followed by 10 seconds of rest. Learn more...

Tofu

Tofu is a meatless protein that's made from soybean curds. Learn more...

Vegan

A vegan diet excludes all animal products, including dairy, eggs, gelatin, and honey. Learn more...

Vitamin C

Vitamin C is a vitamin and antioxidant that’s needed for the growth and repair of the body’s tissues, to maintain the immune system, and to make sure we absorb iron properlyLean more...

Vitamin D

Vitamin D is an important nutrient for healthy bone growth, calcium absorption, and proper muscle, nerve, and immune function. Learn more...

VO2  Max

VO2 max (V – volume; O2 – oxygen) is a way to measure person’s maximum capacity to take in, transport, and use oxygen during exercise. Learn more...

Whole Grain

Whole grain foods (also called “whole meal”) are made from unrefined grains. Learn more...

Whole Wheat

Whole wheat foods are made from a less refined version of wheat than more common wheat products like white bread and white flour. Learn more...

Yoga

Yoga is a physical and mental practice from India that, in the West, usually involves a combination of poses, breathing techniques, and meditation. Learn more...

Zumba

Zumba commonly refers to a cardio-based aerobic workout that's based off of traditional salsa and Latin dance moves. Learn more...