fitness vocabulary

26 Fitness Vocabulary Words in English

Head, shoulders, knees, toes.

Okay, so you know where each of those body parts is located.

But when you get to the gym or watch an exercise video, the English slang in workout words can be confusing.

This post might be just what you need to improve your English vocab and get fit at the same time.


General English Fitness Vocabulary 

fitness vocabulary

1. Fit

Let’s start with the idea of fitness. Often, fitness is shortened to fit.

A person who has strong muscles and little fat on his or her body is called fit.

2. In shape

It makes sense that if people are physically fit then their bodies have a pleasing shape. A healthy person who is fit is said to be in good shape.

Someone who gets out of breath running up the stairs might be in bad shape. Once they start exercising, they are getting back into shape.

Curated authentic video library for all levels
  • Thousands of learner friendly videos (especially beginners)
  • Handpicked, organized, and annotated by FluentU's experts
  • Integrated into courses for beginners
Learn more about FluentU
Learn more about FluentU

3. Workout

To get into shape, you have to do workouts, which usually means physical training or exercises.

Jillian Michaels is the workout video queen.

Fitness Vocabulary for Your Workouts

fitness vocabulary

The slang words used in workout videos can be tough (difficult). Like “fit,” the words can be short versions of longer, more technical terms.

The best way to learn slang is by watching English media made for native speakers. Online programs like FluentU use videos (including workout videos) filled with English slang to help you study.

FluentU takes authentic videos—like music videos, movie trailers, news and inspiring talks—and turns them into personalized language learning lessons.

You can try FluentU for free for 2 weeks. Check out the website or download the iOS app or Android app.

P.S. Click here to take advantage of our current sale! (Expires at the end of this month.)

  FluentU Ad

4. Abs

The abdomen is the belly area between your chest and hips, just above and just below your navel. Abs is simply the short word for it.

Here’s an idiom: six-pack abs.

Video player for learners like you
  • Interactive subtitles: click any word to see detailed examples and explanations
  • Slow down or loop the tricky parts
  • Show or hide subtitles
  • Review words with our powerful learning engine
Learn more about FluentU
Learn more about FluentU

That means someone whose belly muscles are so well defined that his or her abs look like the top of a six pack of soda (or beer). The muscles are so tight that they ripple.

5. Ripped

That leads to the next slang word: ripped.

Lots of English word experts debate whether ripped comes from “ripple” or “rip.” A ripple is little breaks on water. Rip means to cut cleanly.

Either way, ripped means very clear muscle definition.

6. Toned

The word “tone” has to do with sound waves in music and something similar in exercise. Muscle tone has to do with how tight or loose muscles appear.

Someone with good tone has defined muscles. Someone with weak muscle tone does not have much strength.

To say someone is toned is a more formal way to describe someone as muscular.

Master words through quizzes with context
  • Learn words in the context of sentences
  • Swipe left or right to see more examples from other videos
  • Go beyond just a superficial understanding
Learn more about FluentU
Learn more about FluentU

7. Crunch

A crunch is a great exercise to build muscle tone in your abs.

“Crunch” means forcing two things to come together. Here, a crunch means to lean forward and tighten your ab muscles.

Sit-ups are sometimes called crunches.

8. Reps

If you are going to repeat an exercise like a crunch, you are doing reps. This word is short for repeat.

9. Sets

You might repeat an exercise 10 times, take a break, then do another ten reps.

That means you did two sets of ten reps. A set is a group.

10. Shed weight

If you are trying to exercise to lose weight, you are trying to shed weight, or shed pounds.

Stop memorizing words.
Start building sentences.
  • FluentU builds you up, so you can build sentences on your own
  • Start with multiple-choice questions and advance through sentence building to producing your own output
  • Go from understanding to speaking in a natural progression.
Learn more about FluentU
Learn more about FluentU

That literally means to get rid of fat.

11. Shred

If you want to lose fat fast and are going to exercise very hard, you are on a shred.

That means you are trying to tear the fat off your body and build muscle in an intense workout.

12. Spare tire

The fat around the side of your body is sometimes called a spare tire. In other words, you look like you are wearing a tire around your middle.

If you are trying to lose weight, you might say: “I’m trying to get rid of my spare tire.

13. Warm-ups

At the beginning of your workout, you do stretching exercises to loosen tight muscles.

Accurate, detailed word explanations made for you
  • Images, examples, video examples, and tips
  • Covering all the tricky edge cases, eg.: phrases, idioms, collocations, and separable verbs
  • No reliance on volunteers or open source dictionaries
  • 100,000+ hours spent by FluentU's team to create and maintain
Learn more about FluentU
Learn more about FluentU

These are called warm-ups because you are literally warming up your body.

14. Cool down

At the end of a workout, you are very heated.

This is when you do more stretches to cool down your hot muscles.

15. Gear

Your workout gear includes all the tools you need for your exercise.

If you are doing Pilates or yoga, your gear includes a mat. If you are doing weightlifting, your gear might be barbells. Playing tennis means you will need a racquet.

A water bottle should always be part of your gear.

Hi, I'm Alan! I became obsessed with learning Chinese, Japanese, and Korean in 2001, and managed to get good enough to work professionally in those languages as a management consultant.

I started FluentU to build a new kind of language app.
Want to learn more about how FluentU got started?

English Vocabulary About Running

fitness vocabulary

Running is also called jogging in English. It’s one of the least expensive (cheapest) forms of exercise.

You need a good pair of running shoes and some specific fitness vocabulary.

16. 5k

A 5k is a run that goes for five kilometers.

17. Fun run

You might want to do a fun run. These kinds of races are all about having fun and less about finishing first. Fun runs are often 5k races.

For example, Color Runs are becoming very popular. Runners wear white T-shirts. During the course, they become covered in yellow, purple, blue and pink chalk.

Color Runs are advertised as the happiest 5k runs on the planet. A Color Run is likely scheduled for your city.

Another type of fun run is a Mud Run. They are very, very challenging. Usually, they involve working as a team to get everyone through an extreme obstacle course.

On Tough Mudder courses, your team might have to swim through ice or haul logs up steep hills.

18. Training routine

To get ready for any of these fun runs, you have to train.

A training routine is your plan to prepare for a race. 

19. Endurance

You want to build up your endurance for a race.

This means you want to work on running farther and farther.

20. Improve your time

Dedicated runners try to improve their time.

They try to go farther in less time.

21. Setting a pace

The speed that you run is called setting a pace.

Usually, you describe your pace as minutes per mile or kilometers, like 13 minutes per kilometer.

22. Wear yourself out

You want to build your strength so that you do not get tired or wear yourself out.

That’s another way of saying you exercised so hard that you are exhausted.

Healthy Living English Idioms

fitness vocabulary

Of course, there are lots of useful English idioms. Here are a few about being healthy:

23. Clean bill of health

This means someone has been to the doctor and the doctor says he or she is healthy.

Some word experts think this phrase dates back to the time when a ship captain had a paper stating that no one on board had the plague.

If someone didn’t have a clean bill of health, the ship would not be allowed to dock at a port.

24. Fit as a fiddle

Fit as a fiddle means you are in really good health.

Fiddle is another word for a violin. Fit means suitable or acceptable.

This phrase began in the 1600s in England. Originally, you were fit as a fiddle if you dressed nicely for a party.

25. New lease on life

A lease is the length of time you can rent something, like an apartment or a car.

This phrase means you were sick but are now feeling much better. To get a new lease on life means you have new opportunities for better things.

26. Prime of life

You are in the best health of your adult life. You are not young anymore, but you are still strong and now wise.

New York Yankee shortstop Derek Jeter was said to be in the prime of life when he retired.


So get out there and enjoy your workout! You have a lot of new English fitness vocabulary words to practice along the way.

And One More Thing...

If you like learning English through movies and online media, you should also check out FluentU. FluentU lets you learn English from popular talk shows, catchy music videos and funny commercials, as you can see here:


If you want to watch it, the FluentU app has probably got it.

The FluentU app and website makes it really easy to watch English videos. There are captions that are interactive. That means you can tap on any word to see an image, definition, and useful examples.


FluentU lets you learn engaging content with world famous celebrities.

For example, when you tap on the word "searching," you see this:


FluentU lets you tap to look up any word.

Learn all the vocabulary in any video with quizzes. Swipe left or right to see more examples for the word you’re learning.


FluentU helps you learn fast with useful questions and multiple examples. Learn more.

The best part? FluentU remembers the vocabulary that you’re learning. It gives you extra practice with difficult words—and reminds you when it’s time to review what you’ve learned. You have a truly personalized experience.

Start using the FluentU website on your computer or tablet or, better yet, download the FluentU app from the iTunes or Google Play store. Click here to take advantage of our current sale! (Expires at the end of this month.)

Enter your e-mail address to get your free PDF!

We hate SPAM and promise to keep your email address safe