What’s this move? Confusion about exercise names

push upsWhen trying new workouts, exercise nomenclature gets confusing. A trainer could ask you to do narrow grip, close grip, military, chaturanga or tricep pushups and you would probably execute a similar movement for each. Learning a bunch of new exercise names for the same exercises can be frustrating, especially because you’re probably trying to adjust your body to a new type of workout as well.

However, this is why you should keep going! Executing new movements helps your body build flexibility and muscle by focusing on different areas of your physique. Forcing yourself to slow down and pay attention to what is going on in the class can also help you to improve your form.

An example is the variety of names for similar movements in resistance training, which a recent study found significantly varied between certified instructors. In this single discipline each trainer’s vocabulary was different for a set of certain exercises. The study proposed that standards could be developed to better define movements.[1] Until then, we’ll all have to do our best to keep up and know that there’s a learning curve for our body and our brain whenever we try a new discipline or go to a different trainer’s class.

I find it illuminating to know that many teachers are just as frustrated by the lack of standardized names for everything as us students are. The diversity of terms has developed throughout time like different dialects., many people devote themselves to select disciplines of exercise and do not try other workouts. There has been isolation within disciplines even; for example many yogis choose to commit their practice to one type of yoga, whether it’s ashtanga, bikram or kundalini yoga. As a result, when instructors introduce new movements to their classes, they aren’t necessarily aware of a prior name for any particular exercise.

Letting a trainer know that you’re new to a discipline and don’t know the terms for Pilates exercises, for example, should also help remind them to break down movements into simpler, easy to follow instructions. That way you can focus on the physical aspect of the workout and forget the frustration of interpreting new terminology on the fly throughout an hour-long class!

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