17 Gym Terms You Need to Know

In a recent article, “10 Tips For Gym Etiquette,” I taught you how to navigate through your workout without offending others. But fitting in at the gym can go beyond simply being polite–you have to know the lingo if you really want to fit in. So in this article, you’ll learn 17 common gym lingo terms, from gym equipment, to exercise movements, to common gym phrases, and how to understand workout instructions or conversations that you hear or take part in at the gym. If you’re more advanced and already know these phrases, you may want to check out the article “How to Get Better Results From Weight Lifting” where you’ll learn about quarter, stripping, cheating, and more.

Gym Equipment Lingo

Let’s begin with some of the common equipment you’ll find lying around the gym…

Barbell: This is a long bar that typically weights 35-45 pounds, although there are lighter versions at most commercial gyms. You load weight on both ends of a barbell to increase the resistance. Don’t let your ego get in the way when using a barbell–it’s easy to get injured with these.

Cables: A cable exercise apparatus is typically comprised of some type of handle, like a rope or bar, attached to a pulley via a cable, which is then attached to some kind of stack of weights. By using the combination of handle, pulley, and cable, you can manipulate large amounts of weight and move in many different ranges of motion that would be difficult or impossible with a barbell or dumbbell.

Dumbbell: Dumbbells are typically comprised of a handle in between two weights. They can be used individually, or you can use two at the same time. Dumbbells are usually adjustable, meaning you can add resistance by attaching more weight to the dumbbell, or fixed, meaning that you can’t change the weight. Dumbbells are highly versatile and can be used for a wide range of exercises. You’ll typically find them stored on a sturdy shelf called a “rack.” Be careful the dumbbells don’t fall off the rack or your toes could pay a hefty price!

Free Weights: If it’s designed for exercise and not attached to some kind of pulley or machine, you can call it a free weight. This term covers barbells, dumbbells, medicine balls, kettlebells or anything else you can grab and do a variety of exercises with, assuming it’s not a small, defenseless person. Free weights are good to include in your program because they use many stabilizing and balancing muscles.

Smith Machine: This machine, named after a gym owner who invented it, is comprised of a barbell that moves in a stationary track, which ensures that the barbell only moves vertically and in a controlled path. It can be used when you need to press or lift heavy weights with a barbell, but don’t have someone to help you.

Stack: On a weight lifting machine or cable apparatus, the resistance is provided by a stack, which is usually several rectangular shaped plates that are stacked on top of one another. Resistance can then selected by using a pin that can be placed at a chosen place on the stack. Interestingly, a stack can also refer to taking several nutritional supplements at once, and you can learn more about that in the article “Do Muscle Building Supplements Work?”


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What is a WOD?: Crossfit Abbreviations for Dummies

Inspired by my last post in rambling off my Crossfit workouts without realizing that half of the readers may not even know what is a WOD, I opted to put together a very basic list of what some Crossfit abbreviations and terms are so you can reference anytime you read my posts. 😉

What is Crossfit all about?

While I would love to dedicate a whole post to this question alone, this post is mostly just to keep you up on the jargon; I’ll break it down in more detail another time!

In the shortest definition possible, Crossfit is the “sport of fitness.” Crossfit combines elements of cardiovascular/respiratory endurance, stamina, strength, flexibility, power, coordination, agility, balance, and accuracy, using a combination of fast-paced functional movements, Olympic lifts, and gymnastics.

What are all those Crossfit Abbreviations?

WOD: Workout of the Day

Although Crossfit combines many other elements, one of the key characteristics is a daily workout, hence the “workout of the day”. These are either done “AMRAP” (see below for definition) in a certain amount of time; or complete a circuit as fast as possible.

Benchmark WOD

Workout that is used as a baseline to measure progress, usually named after girls, such as Fran, Diane, and Grace.

AMRAP: As many reps as possible

AMRAP workouts are timed with a fixed time limit in which you need to do As Many Reps (repitions) As Possible. The higher the number, the better!

EMOM: Every minute, on the minute

Another type of workout with a fixed time limit is EMOM, or every minute on the minute. These workouts are also scored as how many reps you can do overall, but note that as time goes on your rest periods will likely get shorter!

RX: As prescribed

The goal for any crossfitter is to be able to do the workouts RX’ed, or as prescribed. Since Crossfit workouts can be scaled based on abilities the goal is to work your way up to what the workout is supposed to be like. Examples of scaling could be using a lighter weight, completing less repetitions, or doing assisted pull-ups.

PR: Personal Record

With any workout or lift, the goal is to strive for a PR, or personal record. This is a great way to measure progress and track results!

More Terms:


C&J: Clean and Jerk
FS:Front Squat
PU: Pull-up


DB: Dumbbell
KB: Kettlebell


BW: Body-weight – using your body-weight, such as air squats
RM: Rep Max – maximum amount of weight that you can move for one repetition can also be used as 5RM, such as maximum weight moved with five repetitions in a row

Are there any other terms you’ve seen that you are clueless about? What else would you love to know about Crossfit that I can answer for you? 🙂

Tagged as: amrap, crossfit, emom, wod

Many of us who’ve been doing CrossFit long enough know that you can’t rely on beginner gains – the improvement in muscle size, fat loss and strength you see in the first 18-24 months – forever. If you’ve been training hard and it’s finally time to re-test your lifts, you should have a game plan. Here are a few rules to follow so that you’re triumphant!

Rule No 1. – Don’t spend too much time in the lower percentages of your maximum lift. I’ve tried many different ways to approach a new personal record. The one that seems to work best is 5,3,1,1 and then attack!

  • Set 1 is 5 reps at 65-70%
  • Set 2 is 3 reps at 75-80%
  • Set 3 is 1 rep at 85-90%
  • Set 4 is 1 rep just below or just above your current PR (why hit a weight you’ve already hit?)
  • Sets 5, 6 and 7 are budgeted for your new personal record.

When I lift, I usually go off “feel” and how good (or bad) the movement looks. If I hit my 1 rep max deadlift on set 4, and it could have looked better, I take about 3 minutes and only add about 5-10 lbs.

Rule No 2. – Make aggressive and calculated attempts on your lifts. If you stay true to rule number 1 then you know that you can ramp up rather quickly. Time between sets should be around 3 minutes given how you feel. As you ramp up towards your new PR, you may need more time to recover.

Rule No 3. – Three failed lifts at any weight and the attempt is over. Don’t beat yourself up over spilled milk, or spilled weights for that matter. If you miss a lift, make a realistic assessment of what went wrong. My personal rule is that if you’re stuck at a weight – and you miss it 3 times – then chalk it up to a bad day and let it go for the day.

Rule No 4 – Stay safe and train to train another day. Learn to bail from a lift safely! There is no shame in bailing from a lift; it means you’re attempting something hard. If you’ve already hit your PR, be smart and know your limits.

Rule No 5 – Whether it’s a 1/4 lb or 50 lb PR, it’s still a new personal record. Celebrate and record PRs, whatever they are.

Most importantly, if you’re feeling stuck on or have questions about your lifts, the staff here are all great resources for you! I encourage you to reach out to me at [email protected] to set up a free goal-setting session any time.

If you think you may benefit from some in-depth coaching on the more complicated lifts, custom coaching can help you get to that new PR.


CrossFit Acronyms and Abbreviations

This comes straight from CrossFit.Com, but I took out the ones they never really use.

  • AMRAP: As Many Reps (sometimes Rounds)as Possible
  • BP: Bench press
  • BS: Back squat
  • BW (or BWT): Body weight
  • CFT:CrossFit Total – consisting of max squat, press, and deadlift.
  • CFSB: CrossFit Strength Bias. A program developed by Jeff Martin and Darrell White.
  • CFWU:CrossFit Warm-up
  • CLN: Clean
  • C&J: Clean and jerk
  • C2: Concept II rowing machine
  • DL: Deadlift
  • FS: Front squat
  • GHD: Glute ham raise (developer). Posterior chain exercise, like a back extension. Also, the device that allows for the proper performance of a GHR.
  • GHD Situp: Situp done on the GHR(D) bench.
  • GPP: General physical preparedness, aka “fitness.”
  • H2H: Hand to hand; refers to Jeff Martone’s kettlebell “juggling” techniques (or to combat).
  • HSPU: Hand stand push up. Kick up into a handstand (use wall for balance, if needed) bend arms until nose touches floor and push back up.
  • HSQ: Hang squat (clean or snatch). Start with bar “at the hang,” about knee height. Initiate pull. As the bar rises drop into a full squat and catch the bar in the racked position. From there, rise to a standing position
  • KB: Kettlebell
  • MEBBMaximum Effort Black box, term coined by Mike Rutherford.
  • KTE(K2E): Knees to elbows. Similar to TTBs described below.
  • MetCon: Metabolic Conditioning workout
  • MP: Military press
  • MU: Muscle ups. Hanging from rings you do a combination pull-up and dip so you end in an upright support.
  • OHS: Overhead squat. Full-depth squat performed while arms are locked out in a wide grip press position above (and usually behind) the head.
  • PC: Power clean
  • Pd: Pood, weight measure for kettlebells
  • PR: Personal record
  • PP: Push press
  • PSN: Power snatch
  • PU: Pull-ups, possibly push ups depending on the context
  • Rep: Repetition. One performance of an exercise.
  • Rx’d; as Rx’d: As prescribed; as written. WOD done without any adjustments.
  • RM: Repetition maximum. Your 1RM is your max lift for one rep. Your 10 RM is the most you can lift 10 times.
  • SDHP: Sumo deadlift high pull (see exercise section)
  • Set: A number of repetitions. e.g., 3 sets of 10 reps, often seen as 3×10, means do 10 reps, rest, repeat, rest, repeat.
  • SPP: Specific physical preparednesss, aka skill training.
  • SN: Snatch
  • SQ: Squat
  • SS: Starting Strength; Mark Rippetoe’s great book on strength training basics.
  • Subbed: Substituted. The CORRECT use of “subbed,” as in “substituted,” is, “I subbed an exercise I can do for one I can’t,” For example,if you can’t do HSPU, you subbed regular pushups.
    Sadly, many illiterate posters get this bass-ackward, and claim that since they can’t do HSPU, they subbed HSPU for pushups. D’oh!
  • TGU: Turkish get-up (See exercise section)
  • TTB: Toes to bar. Hang from bar. Bending only at waist raise your toes to touch the bar, slowly lower them and repeat.
  • WO, sometimes W/O: Workout
  • WOD: Workout of the day

What does it mean to work up to a heavy single?

Catalyst Athletics loading prescriptions

HS (Heavy Single)

HS or Heavy single indicates taking the exercise to the heaviest weight for a single rep that can be managed in that training session. This is determined simply by gradually increasing the weight until that criterion is met without any failed attempts. If an attempt does fail, but the reason for failure is obviously technical in nature, the athlete can make another attempt. Otherwise the loading increase should stop when the athlete completes a rep he or she is confident is approximately the best possible at that time.


Max is a genuine test of a maximal effort. In this case, the athlete can give him- or herself up to 3 attempts at a given weight. If after 3 attempts the athlete is still unsuccessful, he or she is done with that exercise. An exception would be an athlete who is missing based on minor and known technical errors, and who is able to continue making attempts that are at least as close or better than previous attempts at that weight. In such cases, continued attempts are recommended until this trend reverses.

Similar to the heavy single would be multiple reps with the “heavy” notation, e.g. heavy 3. This simply means taking the exercise up to the heaviest set of 3 reps you feel you’re able to do that day.

I think it’s important to take into account where in your programming the HS is. You might want to push it a bit harder if you have a deload the next week and not push as much if you’ve got RMs(rep maxes) the following week.

The PR Department: An Intro To Powerlifting

Disclaimer: Powerlifting is an Extreme Sport. This article is only an introduction to the sport and contains no training information however it is strongly advised that if one is interested in trying this or any other sport they should first seek medical clearance and then the advice of an experienced coach. Safety and spotting technique must be adhered to 100% or serious injury or death could occur.

Squat, Bench, Dead…

That is pretty much all that there is to it. I hope you enjoy this article. All right. I’ll tell you a little bit more. Powerlifting is a sport where you get three attempts to hit a personal record (PR) in three different lifts. You always start with the squat. It is taxing and technical but it is a good icebreaker and hitting a great squat sets the tone for a good meet.

If you really wore yourself out on the squat don’t worry because you get to lie down for the next lift. The bench press is both a lifter and crowd favorite and is the second element.

Just when you’ve made 6 maximum effort lifts it is now time to deadlift. What better lift could you ask for when you are completely exhausted? They say that the meet isn’t over until the bar hits the floor.

Your last deadlift could make the difference between a bad day and a PR total. There are also bench press only contests and what we call a push-pull, which, of course, is a bench press/deadlift contest. The order still remains.

Lots of people ask about the sport and wonder if their lifts are good enough to enter a meet. The answer, no matter who you are, is most certainly YES.

Anyone can enter a powerlifting meet so long as you have learned the technique of the lifts and can perform them safely at somewhere near or above your 1-rep max. You will often have others in your weight class but ultimately the only number you can hope to beat is your own PR.

If you lift and come in last then you’ve just gained valuable experience over the person who is sitting on the sideline waiting for their lifts to become big enough to enter. By the time they feel their lifts are ready you’ll have your lifts up to that level plus 5 meets under your belt.

You’ll be the old hand helping put on bench shirts while they get to be the rookie with bigger and more dangerous weights. Endurance athletes understand this because it would be pretty lonely at your local 10k if the ability to finish in the top three was a prerequisite for competition.

Most endurance athletes are comfortable competing against themselves and are proud just to play. Powerlifting is the same way.

It is not a sport of ego but rather a sport of self. Only you can lose to you and only you can beat you. You either complete a lift according to the rules of the day or you don’t. I’ve never seen a powerlifter come into the gym on Monday with a trophy. I have heard them proclaim, with great excitement, how they just went to a meet and set PR’s across the board.

I’ve always had to ask how they placed and the response is typically something like, “Oh yeah… I took first.” If you need further insight into this philosophy please see President Theodore Roosevelt’s In the Arena speech.

“It is far better to dare mighty things on the platform than to be in those chairs with those cold timid soles who know neither victory nor defeat…”

(sorry… TR ends up in almost all of my articles)

The Sport

I can’t keep this under 5000 words if I go into detail about federations, politics, equipment and drugs. I don’t concern myself with federations or politics and I believe it is up to the individual to find the powerlifting organization that gives them the most enjoyment.

I prefer my federation rules to be free and loose and others like them rigid. I am against drugs in sports, as an ISSA fitness professional, but I do not ever condone whining because someone didn’t get a trophy lifting in an untested federation. If you beat your PR’s then you have won and it matters not what, or how, anyone else did.

You choose your own rules when you fill out the application. Cheating is cheating and those that do have to live with themselves, but so long as you don’t cheat yourself then you are on the right track. I like equipped lifting (squat suits, bench shirts etc) because I think it adds fun to the sport just like getting a $5000 super-duper aero bike would be fun for the triathlete.

If you don’t like equipment then find a federation that bans or limits it. We call unequipped lifting “raw” and you usually only lift with a singlet and a belt. I again recommend that people refrain from whining in this department. The Mono-Lift, of which I am a fan, is another controversy.

I let it ride under the “no-whining” policy. Some say it takes the “walk-out” from the squat, which they feel, rightly so, is an important and traditional part of the lift. Some say the Mono-Lift enhances safety and allows bigger lifts. They believe it is worth giving up the “walk-out” for these reasons.

I mostly agree with the latter but one can easily choose to lift in a federation without a Mono-Lift. If you are going to be using one then you should get used to it. Stay within the rules of your choosing and break PR’s. It isn’t cheating if it is legal. It is that simple.

The Squat

First things being what they are, we will start with the squat. The judge’s commands will be different from organization to organization but for the most part you will un-rack the bar and wait for the “squat” command from the center judge. There will be two more judges on the left and right.

You take the squat into the hole and break parallel. This means that the corner of the hip joint, as it folds, has broken a horizontal plane determined by the apex of your knee in the flexed position. Your handler should let you know when you are there and you should have a good feel yourself.

Depth will vary with federation also. Some will pass close lifts at parallel and some want you well below. Drive it up and wait for the “rack” command and you are home free. Your lift will be validated or denied on a three light system. You have to have 2/3 to get a “good lift.”

These lights will be white. Three white lights means that all three judges saw a clean lift that fell within their rules. Red lights are your sworn enemy and two or more will take that lift and throw it in the scrap heap. You get three attempts on each lift. If you get no recorded lift in three tries then the meet is over, so when picking your starting weight… choose wisely.

There is more to that and I will get into it in a bit. With the squat, as with all lifts in this sport, it is very important that you get familiar with the federation rules and abide by them.

This is also a great example of why going to meets and practicing live is worth its weight in gold even if you can’t total what the other guy squats. Experience pays off and you can’t replicate the feeling of being in front of three judges and an audience while training in the gym.

The Bench Press

The bench is next and this is a tough lift to get right. You have to pay careful attention to federation commands and rules. In a nut shell you:

  • Un-rack the weight
  • Pause and demonstrate control (self or by judge)
  • Control the weight down to touch the chest (it must always touch)
  • Pause at the chest (self pause or a judge given “press” command)
  • Press it up to an even lock out (both arms have to lock together even if the weight comes up uneven)

You will likely be told when you can rack it. Jump up and check the board and bask in the sunshine like glow of three white lights… hopefully. Bench shirts and bench technique, like all technique, take up several more articles and years of tuning so we’ll leave this collection of words in the “primer” phase.

In all federations you are not allowed to bounce the weight and you must keep your glutes on the bench. Some will allow your head to come up and some won’t.

The Deadlift

Grip it and rip it. The deadlift is the least fussy when it comes to rules. Don’t stop, don’t hitch (bounce-drag it up the thighs); get the full lockout (ankles, knees and hips locked and aligned) and DO NOT drop it. Chalk is the best and only option for your hands while your legs might enjoy some baby powder to reduce knurl friction.

Do not get any baby powder on your hands though. Babies are allowed to be slippery (although dropping them is frowned upon). Bars are not allowed to be slippery anywhere that your hands might go. You’ll most likely get a “down” signal once the lift is deemed complete.

Keep your hands on the bar and let it down under control. The deadlift is also the only lift that allows you to use two completely different styles.

  1. We have the conventional deadlift, which means the feet are closer together (approximately shoulder width or closer) and the hands are outside the knees.

  2. The sumo deadlift uses a wide stance so the hands grip the bar between the knees. You have to find out for yourself which style fits your mechanics but each is a great training supplement to the other. The sumo pull allows for a shorter bar path and a more upright back position and is favored by leaner lifters with a strong posterior chain and adductors.

Heavier lifters (read: those with big bellies) with long legs, short torsos and long arms often favor the conventional deadlift. There are no rules as to which deadlift will work best for certain types of lifters so you just have to experiment. Records have been set using both styles and some people can use either with the same results.


Training for powerlifting requires volumes of writing and I can say, as a powerlifting coach, that there are no guaranteed protocols that work for all of the people all of the time. Smart periodization is important but the absolute most important aspect of powerlifting training is technique.

If you do it wrong, you WILL get hurt. You can add far more poundage with sound technique than with any other method. I’ll let you in on a little secret though.

There is one sure fire way to get stronger and continue breaking PR’s (so long as you are careful and safe) and that is to train with someone better than you.

If you can find a whole group then that is even better, but you will never make better gains than while training with those who want the same things you do. We joke and poke fun at each other but that is the real reason that bodybuilders and powerlifters don’t often train together. They are just not after the same things.

Train with someone who can teach and motivate you but also teach you how to push and challenge yourself. I can’t give you a cookie-cutter routine as this would be a serious disservice nor will I pretend to be a guru and make one up for you. I will show you the path…

A Note On Westside

I advocate a certain type of training made popular by Westside Barbell. There are always questions on it so I would like to preempt some of them. I have long studied it and also learned directly from some of their best teachers and practitioners. I like it simply because it is the system of no system. It is simple yet very complex.

The entire premise centers on the capitalization of strengths and elimination of weaknesses. One cannot plug-and-play a workout and hope for the best. The whole idea is to examine yourself, study, evaluate and learn how to make yourself the strongest you can be. It can be very complex or very simple.

I was at a fantastic seminar where someone asked Elite Fitness System’s coach Jim Wendler,

“Jim, I weigh 220lbs and I bench 225.
It stalls at the bottom. What is my weak point?”

This guy was hoping to hear that his triceps need work or maybe his shoulders but Jim gave it to him as straight and as honest as could be and told him, quite accurately, that his weak point was his entire bench press.

He was not trying to be rude but rather demonstrate how important it is to master technique and build all-around strength before one attacks the finer points important only to the advanced. There is a myth here that I will take a minute to dispel. People often state that they tried Westside and didn’t make any gains.

They often blame this on not using equipment and being drug free, which of course is utter nonsense. What really happened is that they plugged themselves into a program TEMPLATE and followed it as if Moses brought it down from the mountain on a tablet, only to find that the volume and intensity was too high or that it was designed for someone else’s weaknesses.

They engage in almost zero self-analysis. It isn’t the drugs or the double ply bench shirt. It is lack of knowledge and often, though I hate to sound mean, laziness. There are several other systems of training for powerlifting and many are valid and reasonable.

I have just listed the one I use with my own training, athletes and powerlifters. I can answer further questions on training but not here and now as I fear that this article could begin to develop a bookish volume.

Basics On Training For Powerlifting

It is important to note that powerlifters do NOT train body parts. This phraseology came from bodybuilding, where it is relatively valid, but you will never hear a powerlifter talking about training chest, shoulders, and tris. They train the bench. Those muscles get trained well, and probably better than by using isolation movements, but it is the lift itself that is the focus of training.

Squat and deadlift training go pretty much hand-in-hand. The squat is the most technical but the deadlift is the most taxing. One should be careful with volume and intensity. It would be a simple strategy to work technique and speed with one and max weight with the other and then alternate.

There are countless ways to design your training. It is very important to remember that you are not training legs. You are training the squat and the deadlift.

The Meet

The easiest thing to do here is go get yourself a copy of Powerlifting USA (PL-USA) and look at the list of events in the back. Pick one in your area and sign up. Get whatever federation card you need and then start to write down a plan to get there. Get whatever equipment you’ll need.

Everyone will need a singlet (like wrestlers wear) and a belt. Contact me for my favorite sources for such items. I strongly advise you bring friends familiar with your lifting and your equipment. If you have no friends (which could easily happen if you never clean your squat suit) or none that could help you, then other lifters will always lend a hand.

It is also nice to have a friend/coach/handler help you pick attempts and keep you from either shorting yourself or going too crazy. I told you I’d mention your openers and now seems to be the time. There are different philosophies on this and I can only tell you mine.

Opener Philosophy

My advice is to pick an opener you know you can handle with ease. You’ll be nervous and tight and possibly unresponsive to commands (which gets you red lights) and it feels incredibly relieving to get one lift on the board. White lights in a 2/3 majority on any lift keep you in the game.

There is no sense going for broke on the first try and doing what we call “bombing out.” It is best to get first attempts on the books for all three lifts so that you get to experience them in a real meet situation. The second attempt is the time to go for the PR. If you hit it then you are set but if you miss it you can take it again.

If you get your PR on the second attempt then for the third attempt you can pass, take a tiny bit more or go for broke. This plays into strategy and that really isn’t the realm of the beginner. When all is said and done you will have made nine lifts. Your best weight from each of the three lifts will be combined into what is obviously and simply called “your total.”


If winning or placing becomes relevant you will be placed according to your total by a predetermined formula, which calculates a ratio between your body weight and your total lifted. There are also age groups including Teen, Juniors, Open, Sub-Master, Master, Grand-Master and so on depending on the meet and the federation.


At the meet you’ll network and get to know other lifters. You might even discover there is a club in a garage right up the street. It has been my experiences that you will be accepted so long as you give everything you’ve got on the platform.

You’ll also find that grumpy looking 300lb, bald, tattooed, goateed guys are actually very nice… so long as they’ve been fed… and you’ll get used to that smell. It is just the pleasant and fragrant combination of horse liniment and old bench shirt.


Equipment is very much driven by federation rules. To keep it simple, as I mentioned above, everyone should have a singlet. In order of the lifts you might next want to look into a squat suit. They come in three materials and vary in design depending on lifting style. Single-ply poly is the beginner suit and is like a very tight singlet.

They keep you tight in the hips and have a little bit of spring at the bottom. You can go to a second ply as you advance. Denim is for a more advanced lifter and comes in one or two ply. Denim is very rigid and offers almost no spring.

Canvas has the same layer availability but is for the very advanced and legal in only a select few federations. When a canvas suit hits its limit in the hole of the squat then that is the limit. It will NOT give any more so it is very important to have it tuned to allow you proper depth.

There is an additional hybrid but it is fairly radical and only for the elite. Briefs (no straps over the shoulders) made of single or double poly are often worn under a suit. This depends on the rules. The belt is next and a 4″ powerlifting belt is the only way to go.

This belt is 4″ all around and 10-13mm thick. Check your rules again. I like the lever for squatting but mostly wear a prong buckle. The double prong gives you no advantage and is actually a pain to set or get undone so the single prong belt gets my vote here.

Knee wraps come next and their length is determined by rules. The best bet is to order different brands and see which ones you like. Write me and I’ll point you in the right direction. Some people use wrist wraps on the squat, which is a reasonable option but a personal choice. Shoe selection is important but depends on your style.

Wide squatters often do well in old-fashioned Converse® Chuck Taylor’sTM. Closer stance squatters might want more of a heal lift in a specialized squat shoe. Olympic lifting shoes are likely not the best choice for power squatting.

Bench Equipment

Equipment for the bench is the belt and a bench shirt. They also come in single and double ply made from poly, denim and canvas though canvas is rare. There are options for closed back and open back but those are more advanced. A beginner will do well to get used to a single ply poly shirt to start.

Wrist wraps are popular in the bench press and you will almost always need a singlet. The judge needs to be able to see your glutes touching the bench and baggy shorts would obscure this.

Deadlift Equipment

You gain little or nothing in the deadlift but most wear a squat suit or a suit designed for deadlifting because of the tightness. Few wear knee wraps as they might just get in the way and some wraps their wrists. Some people pull in their Chucks but some wear wrestling shoes and some others go in sox or slipper.

Minimizing the sole thickness shortens the distance you have to pull the bar. I’m a broken record but check your federation’s rules and get the equipment figured out and practiced well before meet day.


This was a brief overview of the sport. For those readers who are members of the ISSA it was a sport played by your Co-Founders Dr. Hatfield and Dr. Arria and it gave them years of enjoyment. There is much more to it and I will be happy to keep going if people are interested in the sport.

I’m sure my little report left you with a couple of questions. Every person I know who has tried it has found a tremendous rush, enjoyed a boost in self-confidence, felt empowered and became addicted to the idea of shattering PR’s. That is amongst those who you would not think would be powerlifters (Mom’s, Grand-mothers/fathers, girls who carry $2000 hand bags).

Squat deep, bench big and don’t quit until the bar hits the floor.

Set a PR Every Day

Pop quiz, everybody.

How often should you set a Personal Record?

  • A.  Once per cycle
  • B.  Depends on how long you’ve been training.
  • C.  Every day.

If you answered C, every day, then we’re on the same page. If you didn’t, I’d like to propose that you can – and should – set a Personal Record (PR) every time you train.

Traditional models of periodization are based on planned periods of overcompensation. They play on the idea that after training, you’ll have a period of recovery followed by an overshoot in recovery that allows you to achieve more than you were previously capable of.

In short, if you bench 225 a few times and then rest for a few days, you’ll be able to bench 230 the next time you lift. Periodization models and the plans based upon them are generally written with a singular end goal in mind, such as a new one-rep max.

Here’s a thought: Instead of starting from the end and working backwards, what if you were to simply work forward and ensure that you set a PR every single day? What would you have to do to make this work?

Autoregulatory Training

First, you’d have to autoregulate your training. You can’t just go in and add weight to the bar every workout or you’ll eventually be found trapped under the bar.

Autoregulatory training has already been shown to be more effective than linear periodization. In a well-done 2010 study by Mann et al., 23 Division 1 athletes were split into test cohorts. To summarize, the autoregulating group made more gains over a six-week period.

Second, we need to clearly define “Personal Record” in a more useful, yet still specific way. A PR is defined simply as a “more than before.” Using the standard metrics of progress – volume, density, and intensity (either absolute resistance or percentage of max) – we can see several ways to define a new PR.

Don’t be stingy in what you call a PR. If you did 5 reps on your first set instead of 4 reps the previous week, you still PR’d, regardless of what you do after the first set. Having redefined PR in a way that’s far more useful, we have the second key element to your new training program.

Third, you need to make your training easy. No getting jacked up on multiple pre-workouts (one pre-workout that you’ve used and know how you respond to is fine), having your buddy slap you in the face, or pushing for every last rep.

Here’s why: autoregulation allows you to ride the waves up and down in a biological system, pushing when it’s easy and backing off when it’s hard. If you’re making everything hard all the time, you won’t know when it’s easier than normal and you can push forward.

Fourth, you’ll need to actually pick things up and put them down.

What to Do

I’ve laid out a four-day training progression that will make you stronger in every respect that matters. There are four workout templates, but I encourage trainees to train three days per week with it, thus breaking the monotony of having the same “workout” on the same day every week.

If you can’t or don’t do an exercise, swap it out for something similar. Exercises with options are listed by priority, so for example if you’re competent in the power snatch, do that.

Workout A

Exercise Sets Reps
A Power Snatch or Seated Box Jump or
Banded KB Swing or KB Swing
5 5
B Front Squat 5 5
C Military Press 5 5

Workout B

Exercise Sets Reps
A Deadlift 5 5
B One-Arm Row 5 5
C Pull-Up 5 5
D Face Pull 3 12

Workout C

Exercise Sets Reps
A Power Clean or
Clean or
Back Squat
5 5
B One-Arm Floor Press 5 5
C Dip 3 12

Workout D

Exercise Sets Reps
A Push Press 5 5
B Romanian Deadlift 5 5
C Dumbbell Shrug 3 10
C Barbell Curl 5 12

Look, the rep ranges are guidelines. The whole point of autoregulatory training is that you adjust based on how things feel on that day. Athletes grinding out 5×5 on a day that should’ve consisted of 5×3 will run into problems.

The First Week

Week 1 is where you get your baseline. On the bigger, primary movements select weights where you can get 3 to 5 sets of 5. On the smaller accessory movements you can go up to 12 reps, especially if hypertrophy is your goal.

Keep warm-up sets short and minimal. A simple rule of thumb is if you’re lifting three-digit weights, do three warm-up sets; two-digit weights, two sets and so on. On really heavy deadlifts and squats I like to have trainees take warm-up reps as the bar as loaded.

Keeping a training log is critical no matter what kind of training you do, but even more so when your entire training session depends on what you did in the past. Relying on your memory is stupid, largely ineffective, and wholly unnecessary – get yourself a 99-cent notebook.

One thing that will likely be new to you is calculating the density of an exercise, but it’s simple. Start a stopwatch when you start doing your front squats, and keep it running through your rest periods. When you’re completely done with your front squats, stop the timer. Note the time.

Here’s how you will calculate your volume and density for each exercise:

  • Volume = Reps * Resistance
  • Density = Volume / Time
  • Intensity = Resistance

Calculate volume and density for each of your movements. For example, if you did 25 reps of front squats with 315 in 15:00 minutes:

  • Volume = 315 * 25 = 7875
  • Density = 7875/ 15 = 525 (lbs/minute)

Week Two

Now that you’ve got your starting point, your only goal is to improve upon it any way you can. The question to ask yourself is simple: “How can I PR today?”

Let 5 sets of 5 reps be your guideline. If you got 5 sets of 5 in the first week, then put a bit more weight on the bar and see what you can do. If you did the best you easily could in the first week, then anything at a greater intensity this week can be considered a PR.

One direction would be to actually lower the weight on the bar and do more total volume for a PR in total volume. Don’t get stuck in the 5×5 mindset. If you need to do 10 sets of 10 to get a volume PR, then do what you need to do to move forward.

Another variable you can manipulate is your set and rep scheme so that you can PR in a different way. If you’ve been working with sets of 5 reps, see how many singles you can easily do. By keeping track of time, you’ll be able to note both volume and density PRs.

If it seems like this is a fairly open ended way of training, that’s because, well, it is. Asking yourself “How can I make progress, better than I ever have before?” will let you make literally perpetual progress, until you die, because then the gains stop.

After Your Training Session

Go through your training logbook, calculate volume and density as demonstrated above, and note any PRs by highlighting or circling them. Remember, anything you do that’s “more than before” is a PR.

Think of every training session as an assessment of whether you made the right decisions. If you did, you should be rewarded with many highlighted PRs and absurd progress. If you’re making the wrong decisions, remind yourself of the fundamental question, “How can I PR today?”

Week Three to Infinity

Nothing changes in the short term. Keep hitting the gym, lifting weights. After some time, you’ll want to rotate out some of the exercises (especially the accessory movements) because of boredom, slower progress, or you find something that suits you better. The protocol for choosing weights, sets, and reps remains the same.

Personally, I haven’t taken a formal, planned deload week in three years. You’ll find that at times your intensity naturally wanes and provided you respect that and don’t try to push through it, you’ll recover nicely without an unnecessary week off training.

Close Out

Da Vinci said, “Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication.” We’ve found no shortage of complexity in strength training, but surprisingly little sophistication. I’m adamant that allowing your body to regulate your training is the ultimate sophistication. You’ll be amazed at what you can do when you get out of your own way.

Why You Should Stop and Go Home After Hitting a PR

The fitness world is an odd place to spend any length of time. Back in the 1990s you were an odd ball if you didn’t want to look like a competitive bodybuilder. These days if you’re not training to be an astronaut-SEAL-MMA fighter you’re not hardcore enough. And what has always been missed is that unless you’re a competitive athlete what really counts is not having diabetes, not being obese, and living the rest of your life healthy and pain free.

I realize this makes me sound soft when it comes to training, but I’m not. We push our clients very hard at Read Performance Training. But we also know when to put it away for the day.

One of my all time training heroes is a man by the name of Charlie Francis. For people who don’t know, Charlie trained the best sprinter the world has ever seen – Ben Johnson. While many will mistakenly point to drugs as the reasons for the success of Charlie’s team, the reality is that he just understood training on a depth that most are just coming to terms with now, more than twenty years later.

I’ve written about the recovery formula before. For training to work and actually cause adaptation we need to ensure adequate recovery takes place. Unfortunately most people add more work into their weeks, hoping to overcome their lack of progress instead of taking a realistic look at what is actually going on. For most people with kids, jobs, and all the other demands and stresses that come from life, it is unrealistic to think you’ll be able to do that many quality sessions per week.

But we need to look within a session, too. Look back at that equation for adaptation/training effect. Effect (or training adaptation in this case) = work x recovery. If your recovery strategy is a constant because you’re already maxed out for quality food, sleep at night, and a nap during the day, then what happens when you over work?

For starters, what is an over worked situation? The most common is you hitting a new personal record (PR) on an exercise. If you go beyond your limit what you need to do now is go and find a way to enhance your normal recovery mode because what you don’t need is more work – you need more rest.

And this is one of the things that first made me sit up and take notice of Charlie Francis back in the early 90s when I was getting into personal training. When a client hits a new PR I send them home or we stop the session and then devote the rest of the time to enhancing recovery. We do this via foam rolling, stretching, mobility work, and what I would think of as gentle movement to help flush the body.

Here are two scenarios that are both real world examples:

Person A

Person A went into the gym and hit a PR on his very first exercise. Feeling terrific and obviously enthusiastic he went to his next exercise and hit another PR. What a day! Feeling even more pumped up he went to his third exercise and hit another PR. Three in a day. Then, feeling like he could walk through walls he decided to do some box jumps to finish. At this point something went pop in his lower leg and the verdict was a torn Achilles and possible surgery. (I want to point out that this person is not a client).

Person B

Person B came to train on Thursday of this week. We typically start with some deadlifts super-setted with kettlebell swings. Now, I’ll be honest and say this client is my favorite client, as she is my seventy-one year old mother. We only do five things – deadlift, swing, crawl, goblet squat, and push the sled. The first two are together then the last three as a tri-set. My parents tend to travel quite a lot so we usually get interrupted in our training, but the last three months have been very solid and I’ve noticed my mother has been approaching near peak strength after knee surgery late last year. I had planned to do 4-3-2-1 for deadlifts, finishing 5kg below her PR. But she made the last single look so easy I asked if she wanted to try to match her PR for another single. She said yes, she did it, and then instead of going to our tri-set we put the weights away and that was it for the week. (And if you follow Read Performance Training on Facebook you’ll be able to see the video and a bit of her happy dance for equalling her PR with no actual hard training leading up to it.)

The point is obvious. Both people hit PRs (or matched them). One, just like the gambler, knew when to walk away and one didn’t. One will be good to go on Monday when we train again and one needed about six months of rehab. While I can’t say for certain that my mother may have been injured if we’d kept going, what I do know for certain is that she didn’t need to. How can you ask someone to do more than 100% of what they’re capable? And if you actually hit that rare point where you did 100+% of what you’re capable, then stop. Just stop, stretch it out, and go home. You’re done.

The goal with training isn’t to do the most reps or to spend a certain amount of time in the gym regardless of outcomes. The goal is to improve. If you hit a PR you’ve shown improvement and the work is done. While this takes tremendous discipline if training alone, and some considerable rethinking of your training paradigms, I guarantee that focusing on quality reps and not quantity will have a much bigger long-term payoff for you.

Photos courtesy of .

CrossFit Acronyms

Acronyms and Abbreviations for CrossFit (What the hell are they talking about??)

Just in case you are wondering what we are talking about, or what all thoes funny letters mean, here is a list of commonlly used acronyms….

WOD: – Workout of the Day

AMRAP: – As Many Rounds or Reps As Possible

EMOM: – Every minute on the minute

For Time: – The workout is timed so do it as fast as you can

OH: – Overhead

OHS: – Overhead squat. Full-depth squat performed while arms are locked out in a wide grip press position above (and usually behind) the head.

KB: – Kettle bell

KBS: – Kettle bell Swing

HSPU: – Hand stand push-ups

DU’s: – Double Unders

AHAP: – As heavy as possible

KTE: – Knees to elbows. Similar to T2Bs described below.

T2B: – Toes To Bar

CLN: – Clean

C&J: – Clean and jerk

PC: – Power clean

PSN: – Power snatch

HSQ: – Hang squat (clean or snatch). Start with bar “at the hang,” about knee height. Initiate pull. As the bar rises drop into a full squat and catch the bar in the racked position. From there, rise to a standing position

C2: – Concept II rowing machine

DL: – Deadlift

FS: – Front squat

BP: – Bench press

BS: – Back squat

MetCon: – Metabolic Conditioning workout

MU: – Muscle ups. Hanging from rings you do a combination pull-up and dip so you end in an upright support.

Pd: – Pood, weight measure for kettlebells

PR: – Personal record

PP: – Push press

PU: – Pull-ups, possibly push ups depending on the context

Rep: – Repetition. One performance of an exercise.

Rx’d: – As prescribed; as written. WOD done without any adjustments.

RM: – Repetition maximum. Your 1RM is your max lift for one rep. Your 10 RM is the most you can lift 10 times.

SDHP: – Sumo deadlift high pull (see exercise section)

Set: – A number of repetitions. e.g., 3 sets of 10 reps, often seen as 3×10, means do 10 reps, rest, repeat, rest, repeat.

The Girls: – These are the named benchmark workouts that the entire CrossFit community around the world understands. Like hurricanes, they are named after women. As you repeat these WODs over time they allow you to see your progress through faster times or more reps. Everyone has a favorite and most hated Girl. When CrossFitters ask about your “Fran” or “Angie” time, they’re talking about workouts, not last weekend’s conquest!

The Heroes: – These are the same principle as the girls but they are named to commemorate fallen military and law enforcement personnel. The Heroes are usually longer and more gruelling than the average workout to recognize, in some small and inadequate way, the sacrifice made by these men and their families.

Sets and Reps: What Does It All Mean?
by Coach Jason Lapadula

Are you intimidated by all the percentages, sets numbers, rep numbers, and squat faces that come with moving heavy weights? Here’s a guide to help you along your path to getting that PR (personal record). Some of these ideas are unique to me, not standard across the board of weight-training coaches, so keep in mind that some people may tell you differently.

Rep(s): A rep (or repetition) is a single movement of any exercise. But why do 3 reps versus 5 reps versus 10 reps? Lower reps mean you can move more weight, which means you will be lifting closer to your max weight for one rep on any exercise (1RM). Intensity is proportional to the percentage of your 1RM you are lifting. I’m not going to get into how many reps are better for this goal versus that goal, but just know that a beginner can make gains using much less intensity (studies show as little as 40% of their 1RM), while intermediate/advanced athletes need to use higher intensity ranges. Approximate percentages of 1RM versus other rep maxes are listed below, however, know this will vary with regards to the exercise and the individual:

1RM – 100%
3RM – 90%
5RM – 85%
10RM – 75-80%

Set(s): A set is a series of reps of an exercise done in sequence (usually without rest). So why use more or fewer sets? Again, beginners tend to make gains with fewer sets (3 seems to work very well) whereas intermediate/advanced athletes may need 4-8 sets to benefit from the exercise. If you are lifting maximally (very close to your rep max for how many reps you are doing), you might want to use fewer sets at that weight as it is very taxing to perform at that effort (ever try hitting your 1RM twice in a row? Don’t.).

So what does “3×5” mean and how is it different from “5-5-5” or “3-3-3-3-3”?
3×5 means “three sets of five reps.” Generally, people take this as three sets of five reps at the same weight. 5-5-5 or 3-3-3-3-3 is generally used to imply trying to increase the weight (or vary it) each set.

Okay, that’s great. But how do I know when I’ve reached my work sets?
Your work sets are the sets that you are counting towards that certain set-rep scheme (so if you’re doing a 3×5, it would be when you are starting your first set). You should always warm up your lifts and not just jump into those work sets cold. How much you warm up is going to depend on how much weight you’re lifting (someone who squats 400lbs. is probably going to have to warm up to that weight more than someone who squats 100lbs.). I usually tell people to try to go heavy while maintaining form – people generally know what heavy feels like. No matter what set-rep scheme you use, try to keep your work sets within 90% of each other. This means if I do 5-5-5 for the back squat, sets that look like 5×135 5×155 5×175 do not all count as work sets. I would need to complete 3 sets about 160ish in order to make them all work sets.

So how much do I rest between sets?
Beginners do not need as much rest as intermediate/advanced athletes, and keep in mind everyone is different so prescribing exact rest can get messy. In general, rest however long you think you need, then add 30 seconds to that. For you people who want something a little more concrete, beginners should rest at least 2-3 minutes between heavy work sets and intermediate/advanced athletes should rest at least 3-5 minutes between heavy work sets.

What does XX% feel like?
Here’s my simple guide to what percentages should feel like. Keep in mind these are separated between the fast lifts (olympic-style lifts) and slow lifts (everything else):

Fast Lifts:
60-70% – light and fast – generally applies to technique work
70-80% – moderate and fast with perfect form
80-90% – heavy but should be able to make this lift on any given day
90%+ – heavy and need some motivation (internal or otherwise) to get under the bar

Slow Lifts:
50-60% – a weight you can use for most conditioning workouts
60-70% – should feel heavy for 10+ reps
70-80% – should feel heavy for 8-10 reps
80-85% – should feel heavy for 4-6 reps
85-90% – should feel heavy for 3-4 reps
90%+ – feels heavy no matter what

The Complicated Stuff:

Tempo – If given a tempo, it is most common format is 4 numbers (for example 31×1). This format comes from squatting, so it may help to just think of the numbers as the movement pattern of a squat. The first number refers to the descent, the second refers to the time at the bottom, the third refers to the time on the way up, and the fourth refers to the time at the top. So our 31×1 tempo means, “three seconds to get down to the bottom, one second pause at the bottom, explode on the way up (as fast as possible), and one second pause at the top.” If I were to apply this to the deadlift, it would be in a different sequence: “explode on the way up, one second pause at the top, three seconds to get down to the bottom, and one second pause at the bottom.” Tempo is a good way to add variety to your lifting or add focus to certain parts of a movement.

Clusters – If you see a set-rep scheme that looks like 3×1.1.1, you will be doing a cluster set. For these types of sets, you will take a rest where there is a period. So for this particular cluster, do one rep then pause then another rep then pause then another rep. The rest periods between cluster reps is generally designated, however if none is prescribed, it will be around 5-10 seconds. Cluster sets are another way to add variety for those more accustomed to lifting heavier weights.

Understanding the difference between blood pressure and pulse

While your blood pressure is the force of your blood moving through your blood vessels, your heart rate is the number of times your heart beats per minute.

  • They are two separate measurements and indicators of health.
  • For people with high blood pressure (HBP or hypertension), there’s no substitute for measuring blood pressure.

Heart rate and blood pressure do not necessarily increase at the same rate

A rising heart rate does not cause your blood pressure to increase at the same rate. Even though your heart is beating more times a minute, healthy blood vessels dilate (get larger) to allow more blood to flow through more easily. When you exercise, your heart speeds up so more blood can reach your muscles. It may be possible for your heart rate to double safely, while your blood pressure may respond by only increasing a modest amount.

Heart rate and exercise

In discussions about high blood pressure, you will often see heart rate mentioned in relation to exercise. Your target heart rate is based on age and can help you monitor the intensity of your exercise.

  • If you measure your heart rate (take your pulse) before, during and after physical activity, you’ll notice it will increase over the course of the exercise.
  • The greater the intensity of the exercise, the more your heart rate will increase.
  • When you stop exercising, your heart rate does not immediately return to your normal (resting) heart rate.
  • The more fit you are, the sooner your heart rate will return to normal.

Learn more:

  • Measuring your resting heart rate
  • Understanding target heart rates


A accommodation; acetum; angström unit; anode; anterior
a artery
a before
A2 aortic second sound
aa of each; arteries
AAA abdominal aortic aneurysm
abd abdominal/abdomen
ABG arterial blood gas
ABI ankle-brachial index
ABO three basic blood groups
AC adrenal cortex; air conduction; alternating current; axiocervical
a.c., ac before a meal
acc. accommodation
A/CA accommodative/convergence accommodation ratio
ACE angiotensin-converting enzyme
ACh acetylcholine
AChE acetylcholinesterase
AChR acetylcholine receptor
ACLS advanced cardiac life support
ACTH adrenocorticotropic hormone
AD advance directive
ad to; up to
ADH antidiuretic hormone
ADHD attention deficit-hyperactivity disorder
ADL, ADLs activities of daily living
ad lib. freely; as desired
admov. apply
ad sat. to saturation
AED antiepileptic drug
AF atrial fibrillation
AFB acid-fast bacillus
AFP alpha-fetoprotein
A/G; A-G ratio albumin/globulin ratio
Ag silver; antigen
AGC atypical glandular cells
AgNO3 silver nitrate
ah hypermetropic astigmatism
AHF antihemophilic factor
AI aortic incompetence; aortic insufficiency
AICD automatic implantable cardiac defibrillator
AIDS acquired immunodeficiency syndrome
AK above the knee
Al aluminum
Alb albumin
ALL acute lymphocytic leukemia
ALP alkaline phosphatase
ALS amyotrophic lateral sclerosis
ALT alanine aminotransferase
alt. dieb. every other day
alt. hor. every other hour
alt. noc. every other night
AM morning
Am mixed astigmatism
a.m.a. against medical advice
AMI acute myocardial infarction
AML acute myelogenous (myeloblastic) leukemia
AMLS Advanced Medical Life Support
amp ampule; amputation
ANA antinuclear antibody
anat anatomy or anatomic
ANNA anti-neuronal nuclear antibody
ANP atrial natriuretic peptide
ant. anterior
anti-CCP anticyclic citrullinated peptide
Ao. aorta
A-P anterior-posterior
A&P auscultation and percussion
ap before dinner
APAP acetaminophen
aPTT activated partial thromboplastin
AQ, aq water
aq. dest. distilled water
aq. frig. cold water
ARC AIDS-related complex
ARDS acute respiratory distress syndrome
ARMD age-related macular degeneration
AS ankylosing spondylitis; aortic stenosis; auris sinistra (left ear)
As. astigmatism
ASA acetylsalicylic acid
ASC atypical squamous cells
asc. ascending
ASCA anti-Saccharomyces cerevisiae antibody
ASC-US atypical squamous cells of undetermined significance
ASCVD atherosclerotic cardiovascular disease
ASD atrial septal defect
AsH hypermetropic astigmatism
AsM myopic astigmatism
AST aspartate aminotransferase
Ast astigmatism
ATCC American Type Culture Collection
at. wt. atomic weight
Au gold
A-V; AV; A/V arteriovenous; atrioventricular
av. avoirdupois
AVM arteriovenous malformation
AVP arginine vasopressin
B boron; bacillus
Ba barium
BAC blood alcohol concentration
BBB blood-brain barrier; bundle branch block
BBT basal body temperature
BCG bacille Calmette-Guérin
BCLS basic cardiac life support
BCP birth control pills
BD Buerger disease
BE barium enema
Be beryllium
BHS beta-hemolytic streptococci
Bi bismuth
b. bone
bib. drink
b.i.d., bid twice a day
b.i.n. twice a night
bipap bilevel positive airway pressure
BK below the knee
BLS basic life support
BM bowel movement
BMI body mass index
BMR basal metabolic rate
BMS bone marrow suppression
BMT bone marrow transplantation
BNP brain natriuretic peptide
bol. pill
BP blood pressure
B.P. British Pharmacopeia
BPH benign prostatic hyperplasia
bpm beats per minute
BRM biologic response modifier
BROW barley, rye, oats, and wheat
BSA body surface area
BSE breast self-examination
BUN blood urea nitrogen
BW birth weight; body weight
Bx biopsy
C Calorie (kilocalorie); Celsius
c calorie (small calorie)
c with
CA coronary artery
ca. about; approximately; cancer
CABG coronary artery bypass graft
CaCO3 calcium carbonate
CAD coronary artery disease
CAH chronic active hepatitis
Cal large calorie
CAP let (the patient) take
cap. capsule
C&S culture and sensitivity
cath catheter
CBC complete blood count
CBI continuous bladder irrigation
CBRNE chemical, biological, radiological, nuclear, and explosive agents
CBT cognitive behavioral therapy
CC chief complaint
cc cubic centimeter
CCl 4 carbon tetrachloride
CCU coronary care unit; critical care unit
CD4 T-helper cells
CD8 cytotoxic cells
CDC Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
CEA carcinoembryonic antigen
CF cystic fibrosis; Christmas factor
CFTR cystic fibrosis transmembrane regulator
cg centigram
CHD congenital heart disease; coronary heart disease
ChE cholinesterase
CHF congestive heart failure
CI cardiac index
Ci curie
CIN cervical intraepithelial neoplasia
CIS carcinoma in situ
CK creatine kinase
CK-MB serum creatine kinase, myocardial-bound
Cl chlorine
CLL chronic lymphocytic leukemia
cm centimeter
c.m.s. to be taken tomorrow morning
CMT certified medication technician
CMV cytomegalovirus
c.n. tomorrow night
CNS central nervous system
c.n.s. to be taken tomorrow night
CO carbon monoxide; cardiac output
CO2 carbon dioxide
Co cobalt
c/o complains of
COLD chronic obstructive lung disease
comp. compound; compounded of
COMT catechol-O-methyltransferase
COPD chronic obstructive pulmonary disease
COX-2 cyclooxygenase 2 inhibitors
CP cerebral palsy; cleft palate
CPAP continuous positive airway pressure
CPC clinicopathologic conference
CPD cephalopelvic disproportion
CPHSS Cincinnati Prehospital Stroke Scale
CPK creatine phosphokinase
CPM continuous passive motion
CPR cardiopulmonary resuscitation
CR conditioned reflex; controlled release; crown-rump length
CREST calcinosis, Raynaud phenomenon, esophageal dysfunction, sclerodactyly, telangiectasia (cluster of features of systemic sclerosis scleroderma)
CRP c. reactive protein
CRS-R Conners Rating Scales-Revised
CS cardiogenic shock; cesarean section; culture and sensitivity
CSF cerebrospinal fluid; colony-stimulating factor
CSH combat support hospital
CT computed/computerized tomography
Cu copper
CV cardiovascular
CVA cardiovascular accident; cerebrovascular accident; costovertebral angle
CVC central venous catheter
CVP central venous pressure
CVRB critical value read back
CVS chorionic villi sampling
CXR chest x-ray
D diopter; dose
D5/0.9 NaCl 5% dextrose and normal saline solution (0.9% NaCl)
D5/½ /NS 5% dextrose and half-normal saline solution (0.45% NaCl)
D5W 5% dextrose in water
d density; right
/d per day
D and C dilatation and curettage
dB decibel
DBP diastolic blood pressure
DC direct current; doctor of chiropractic
dc discontinue
Derm dermatology
det. let it be given
DEXA dual-energy x-ray absorptiometry
DFV Doppler flow velocimetry
DHT dihydrotestosterone
DI diabetes insipidus
DIC disseminated intravascular coagulation
dieb. alt. every other day
dieb. tert. every third day
dil. dilute; diluted
dim. halved
DISIDA (scan) diisopropyl iminodiacetic acid (cholescintigraphy)
DJD degenerative joint disease
DKA diabetic ketoacidosis
dL deciliter
DM diabetes mellitus
DMARD disease-modulating antirheumatic drug
DNA deoxyribonucleic acid
DNH do not hospitalize
DNR do not resuscitate
DOA dead on arrival
DOB date of birth
DOE dyspnea on exertion
DPat diphtheria-acellular pertussis tetanus (vaccine)
DPT diphtheria-pertussis-tetanus (vaccine)
dr. dram
DRE digital rectal examination
DRG diagnosis-related group
DSM-IV-TR Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, 4th Edition, Text Revision
DTR deep tendon reflex(es)
DTs delirium tremens
dur. dolor while pain lasts
DVT deep vein thrombosis
Dx diagnosis
D5W dextrose 5% in water
DWI driving while intoxicated
E eye; Escherichia
EBV Epstein-Barr virus
ECF extended care facility; extracellular fluid
ECG electrocardiogram, electrocardiograph
ECHO echocardiography
ECMO extracorporeal membrane oxygenation
ECT electroconvulsive therapy
ED emergency department; effective dose; erythema dose; erectile dysfunction
EDD estimated date of delivery (formerly EDC: estimated date of confinement)
EEG electroencephalogram
EENT eye, ear, nose, and throat
EF ejection fraction
EGD esophagogastroduodenoscopy
EIA enzyme immunosorbent assay
EKG electrocardiogram; electrocardiograph
ELISA enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay
elix. elixir
Em emmetropia
EMA-IgA immunoglobulin A antiendomysial
EMG electromyogram, electromyography
EMS emergency medical service
Endo endocrine
ENT ear, nose, and throat
EOM extraocular muscles
EP extrapyramidal
EPS extrapyramidal symptoms
ER Emergency Room, extended-release
ERCP endoscopic retrograde cholangiopancreatography
ESR erythrocyte sedimentation rate
ESRD end-stage renal disease
EST electroshock therapy
ESWL extracorporeal shock wave lithotripsy
ET-1 endothelin-1
ETOH, EtOH ethyl alcohol
ext. extensor; external
F Fahrenheit
f female
FA fatty acid
F and E fluid and electrolyte
FAP familial adenomatous polyposis
FBS fasting blood sugar
FD fatal dose; focal distance
FDA (U.S.) Food and Drug Administration
Fe iron
FEV forced expiratory volume
FFP fresh frozen plasma
FHT fetal heart tone
FISH fluorescence in situ hybridization
fl. flexor
Fld fluid
FP family practice; family practitioner
FSH follicle-stimulating hormone
FTT failure to thrive
FUO fever of unknown origin
G, g, gm gram
GABA gamma-aminobutyric acid
GABAB gamma-aminobutyric acid type B
GABRB3 GABAA receptor gene
garg gargle
GB gallbladder; Guillain-Barré
GC gonococcus or gonorrheal
GDM gestational diabetes mellitus
GDS Geriatric Depression Scale
GERD gastroesophageal reflux disease
GFR glomerular filtration rate
GGT gamma-glutamyl transferase
GH growth hormone
GI gastrointestinal
GnRH gonadotropin-releasing hormone
GP general practitioner
G6PD glucose-6-phosphate dehydrogenase
gr grain
grad by degrees
GRAS generally recognized as safe
GSW gunshot wound
GTT glucose tolerance test
Gtt, gtt drops
GU genitourinary
guttat. drop by drop
GVHD graft-versus-host disease
GYN gynecology
H hydrogen
H+ hydrogen ion
h, hr hour
H&H hematocrit and hemoglobin
H1N1 hemagglutinin type 1 and neuraminidase type 1
H2 histamine 2
HAART highly active antiretroviral therapy
HAV hepatitis A virus
HBV hepatitis B virus
HCG human chorionic gonadotropin
HCP health care professional
HCT, Hct hematocrit
HCV hepatitis C virus
HD hearing distance
HDL high-density lipoprotein
HDV hepatitis D
HEENT head, eye, ear, nose, and throat
HELLP hemolysis, elevated liver enzymes, low platelets
HEPA high-efficiency particulate air
HER2 human EGF (epidermal growth factor) receptor 2
HEV hepatitis E
HF heart failure
Hg mercury
hgb hemoglobin
HGSIL high-grade squamous intraepithelial lesion
Hib Haemophilus influenzae type B
HIDA hepatobiliary iminodiacetic acid (cholescintigraphy)
HIV human immunodeficiency virus
HLA human leukocyteantigen
h/o history of
HOB head of bed
H2O water
H2O2 hydrogen peroxide
hor. decub. bedtime
hor. som, h.s. bedtime
HPI history of present illness
HPV human papillomavirus
HR heart rate
HRT hormone replacement therapy
HSIL high-grade squamous intraepithelial lesion
HSV herpes simplex virus
HTLV-III human T lymphotropic virus type III
HTN hypertension
hx, Hx history
Hy hyperopia
Hz hertz (cycles per second)
I iodine
131I radioactive isotope of iodine (atomic weight 131)
132I radioactive isotope of iodine (atomic weight 132)
I&O intake and output
IBW ideal body weight
IC inspiratory capacity
ICD implantable cardioverter defibrillator
ICP intracranial pressure
ICS intercostal space
ICSH interstitial cell-stimulating hormone
ICU intensive care unit
Id. the same
IDDM insulin-dependent diabetes mellitus
IDM infants of diabetic mothers
IED improvised explosive device
Ig immunoglobulin
IgE immunoglobulin E
IgG immunoglobulin G
IL-1 interleukin 1
IL-8 interleukin 8
IM intramuscular
in d. daily
INF interferon
inf. inferior
inj. injection
INR international normalized ratio
instill. instillation
int. internal
IOP intraocular pressure
IPPB intermittent positive pressure breathing
IQ intelligence quotient
IRV inspiratory reserve volume
I.U. a international unit
IUCD intrauterine contraceptive device
IUD intrauterine device
IUFD intrauterine fetal death
IV intravenous
IVP intravenous pyelogram
J joule
JNC 7 The Seventh Report of the Joint National Committee on Prevention, Detection, Evaluation, and Treatment of High Blood Pressure
JRA juvenile rheumatoid arthritis
jt. joint
K potassium
kg kilogram
KI potassium iodine
KOH potassium hydroxide
KS Kaposi sarcoma
KUB kidney, ureter, and bladder
kv kilovolt
KVO keep vein open
L liter
L&D labor and delivery
lab laboratory
lat lateral
lb pound
LBW low birth weight
LD50 lethal dose, median
LDH lactate dehydrogenase
LDL low-density lipoprotein
LE lower extremity; lupus erythematosus
LEEP loop electrosurgical excision procedure
LFT liver function test
LGA large for gestational age
LH luteinizing hormone
Li lithium
lig ligament
liq. liquid; fluid
LLE left lower extremity
LLL left lower lobe
LLQ left lower quadrant
lmp last menstrual period
LOC level/loss of consciousness
LP lumbar puncture
LR lactated Ringer (solution)
LSIL low-grade squamous epithelial lesion
LTD lowest tolerated dose
LUE left upper extremity
LUL left upper lobe
LUQ left upper quadrant
LV left ventricle
LVAD left ventricular assist device
LVH left ventricular hypertrophy
M master; medicine; molar; thousand; muscle
m male; meter; minim; mole; meta; muscle
MA mental age
MAO-B monoamine oxidase-B
man. prim. first thing in the morning
MAP mean arterial pressure
MAT Miller Analogies Test
MBD minimal brain dysfunction
mc; mCi millicurie
mcg microgram
MCH mean corpuscular hemoglobin
MCHC mean corpuscular hemoglobin concentration
MCV mean corpuscular volume
MD muscular dystrophy
MDI metered-dose inhaler
MED minimum effective dose
med medial
MELD Model for End-Stage Liver Disease
µEq microequivalent
mEq milliequivalent
mEq/L milliequivalent per liter
ME ratio myeloid/erythroid ratio
MG myasthenia gravis
Mg magnesium
MgSO4 magnesium sulfate
µg microgram
mg milligram
MI myocardial infarction
MID minimum infective dose
mist. a mixture
ml milliliter
MLD minimum lethal dose
MLF medial longitudinal fasciculus
MM mucous membrane; multiple myeloma
mm millimeter
mm Hg millimeters of mercury
mMol millimole
MMR measles-mumps-rubella (vaccine)
MMSE Mini-Mental Status Examination
Mn manganese
mol wt molecular weight
mor. dict. as directed
mor. sol. as accustomed
MPC maximum permitted concentration
MPN most probable number
mr milliroentgen
MRA magnetic resonance angiography
MRgFUS MR-guided focused ultrasound surgery
MRI magnetic resonance imaging
MS mitral stenosis; multiple sclerosis
MV mitral valve
mV millivolt
MVA motor vehicle accident
MW molecular weight
My myopia
N nitrogen
n nerve
N/A not applicable
Na sodium
NAA nucleic acid amplification
NAD no acute distress
n.b. note well
nCi nanocurie
NDC National Drug Code
NG, ng nasogastric
NGT nasogastric tube
NH3 ammonia
Ni nickel
NICU neonatal intensive care unit
NIDDM noninsulin-dependent diabetes mellitus
NIH National Institutes of Health
NK natural killer
NKA no known allergies
NMDA N-methyl D-aspartate
NMJ neuromuscular junction
NMS neuroleptic malignant syndrome
nn nerves
noct. in the night
noct. maneq. night and morning
non rep; n.r. do not repeat
NPN nonprotein nitrogen
NPO; n.p.o. nothing by mouth
NRC normal retinal correspondence
NS normal saline
NSAID nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug
NSR normal sinus rhythm
N&V, N/V nausea and vomiting
O pint
O2 oxygen
OB obstetrics
OC oral contraceptive
OCD obsessive-compulsive disorder
O.D. right eye
ol. oil
om. mane vel noc. every morning or night
omn. hor. every hour
omn. noct. every night
OmPC outer membrane porin C
OOB out of bed
OPD outpatient department
OR operating room
ORIF open reduction with/and internal fixation
O.S. left eye
OSHA Occupational Safety and Health Administration
OT occupational therapy
OTC over-the-counter
OU each eye
oz ounce
P, p melting point
p after
P2 pulmonic second sound
P-A; PA; pa placenta abruption; posteroanterior; pulmonary artery
PABA para-aminobenzoic acid (vitamin B10)
Paco2 partial pressure of carbon dioxide in alveolar gas
PACU postanesthesia care unit
PAD peripheral arterial disease
PALS pediatric advanced life support
P-ANCA perinuclear antineutrophil cytoplasmic antibody
PAO 2 alveolar oxygen partial pressure
Pap, Pap test Papanicolaou smear
part. vic in divided doses
Pb lead
PBI protein-bound iodine
p.c. after meals
PCA patient-controlled analgesia
Pco 2 carbon dioxide pressure
PCOS polycystic ovarian syndrome
PCP Pneumocystis carinii pneumonia; primary care physician; primary care provider
PCR polymerase chain reaction
PCWP pulmonary capillary wedge pressure
PD interpupillary distance; Parkinson disease; peritoneal dialysis
pd prism diopter; pupillary distance
PDA patent ductus arteriosus
PDR Physicians’ Desk Reference
PE physical examination; pulmonary embolism
PEEP positive end expiratory pressure
PEFR peak expiratory flow rate
PEG percutaneous endoscopic gastrostomy
per through or by
PERRLA pupils equal, regular, react to light and accommodation
PET positron emission tomography
PFP, P4P pay for performance
PFT pulmonary function test
pH hydrogen ion concentration
Pharm; Phar. pharmacy
PI present illness; previous illness
PICC peripherally inserted central catheter
PID pelvic inflammatory disease
PIH pregnancy-induced hypertension
pil. pill
PIP proximal interphalangeal
PIPDA (scan) 99mTc-para-isopropylacetanilido-iminodiaacetic acid (cholescintigraphy)
PKU phenylketonuria
PM afternoon/evening
PMH past medical history
PMI point of maximal impulse
PMN polymorphonuclear neutrophil leukocytes
PMS premenstrual syndrome
PND paroxysmal nocturnal dyspnea
PNH paroxysmal nocturnal hemoglobinuria
PNS peripheral nervous system
PO; p.o. orally
POLST physician orders for life-sustaining therapy
post. posterior
PP placenta previa
PPD purified protein derivative (TB test)
ppm parts per million
p.r. through the rectum
PRBCs packed red blood cells
p.r.n. as needed
pro time/PT prothrombin time
PSA prostate-specific antigen
PSV prostate-specific antigen
PT prothrombin time; physical therapy
Pt platinum; patient
pt pint
PTT partial thromboplastin time
Pu plutonium
PUBS percutaneous umbilical blood sampling
PUVA psoralen ultraviolet A
p.v. through the vagina
PVC premature ventricular contraction
PVR peripheral vascular resistance
q every
q.d.† every day
q.h. every hour
q.2h. every 2 hours
q.3h. every 3 hours
q.4h. every 4 hours
q.i.d. a four times a day
q.l. as much as wanted
qns quantity not sufficient
q.o.d. a every other day
q.p. as much as desired
q.s. as much as needed
qt quart
q.v. as much as you please
RA rheumatoid arthritis
Ra radium
rad radiation absorbed dose
RAI radioactive iodine
RAIU radioactive iodine uptake
RBC red blood cell; red blood count
RD Raynaud disease
RDA recommended daily/dietary allowance
RDS respiratory distress syndrome
RE right eye
Re rhenium
REM rapid eye movement
RF rheumatoid factor
RFT renal function test
Rh rhesus factor; rhodium
RHD rheumatic heart disease
RLE right lower extremity
RLL right lower lobe
RLQ right lower quadrant
RML right middle lobe of lung
Rn radon
RNA ribonucleic acid
R/O rule out
ROM range of motion
ROS review of systems
RPM revolutions per minute
RQ respiratory quotient
RR recovery room; respiratory rate
RSV respiratory syncytial virus
RT radiation therapy; respiratory therapy
R/T related to
RUE right upper extremity
RUL right upper lobe
RUQ right upper quadrant
S mark
s without
S. sacral
S-A; S/A; SA sinoatrial
SAD seasonal affective disorder
SARS severe acute respiratory syndrome
SB small bowel
Sb antimony
SBP systolic blood pressure
SC, sc, s.c. subcutaneous(ly)
SCI spinal cord injury
S.D. standard deviation
SDAT senile dementia of the Alzheimer type
S.E. standard error
Se selenium
Sed rate sedimentation rate
semih. half an hour
SERM selective estrogen receptor modulator
SGA small for gestational age
SI international system of units
Si silicon
SIADH syndrome of inappropriate diuretic hormone
SIDS sudden infant death syndrome
Sig. write on label
SJS Stevens-Johnson syndrome
SLE systemic lupus erythematosus
SLP speech-language pathology
Sn tin
SNF skilled nursing facility
SNRI serotonin and norepinephrine reuptake inhibitor
SNS sympathetic nervous system
SOB shortness of breath
sol solution, dissolved
s.o.s. if necessary
S/P no change after
SPECT single-photon emission computed tomography
sp gr specific gravity
SPF skin protection factor
sph spherical
spt. spirit
s.q. subcutaneous(ly)
Sr strontium
ss a half
SSRI selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor
SSS sick sinus syndrome
st. let it/them stand
Staph Staphylococcus
stat. immediately
STD sexually transmitted disease
Strep Streptococcus
STS serologic test for syphilis
STU skin test unit
sup. superior
supf. superficial
SV stroke volume; supraventricular
SVC superior vena cava
Sx symptoms
syr. syrup
T temperature
T3 triiodothyronine
T4 tetraiodothyronine; thyroxine
T6 thoracic nerve pair 6
TA toxin-antitoxin
Ta tantalum
T&A tonsillectomy and adenoidectomy
TAH total abdominal hysterectomy
TAT thematic apperception test
T.A.T. toxin-antitoxin
TB tuberculin; tuberculosis; tubercle bacillus
Tb terbium
t.d.s. to be taken three times daily
Te tellurium; tetanus
TEE transesophageal echocardiogram
TEN toxic epidermal necrolysis
TENS transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation
TG thyroglobulin
Th thorium
THR total hip replacement
TIA transient ischemic attack
TIBC total iron-binding capacity
t.i.d. three times a day
t.i.n. three times a night
tinct., tr tincture
TKR total knee replacement
Tl thallium
TLC, tlc tender loving care; thin layer chromatography; total lung capacity
TM tympanic membrane
TMJ temporomandibular joint
TN trigeminal nerve
TNF tumor necrosis factor
TNF-I tumor necrosis factor inhibitor
TNF-α tumor necrosis factor alpha
TNM tumor-node-metastasis
TNT trinitrotoluene
TNTM too numerous to mention
top. topically
TORB telephone order read back
TPI Treponema pallidum immobilization test for syphilis
TPN total parenteral nutrition
TPO thyroid peroxidase
TPR temperature, pulse, and respiration
tr, tinct. tincture
TRAP criteria tremor, rigidity, akinesia or postural instablity bradykinesia, and postural instability
Treg regulatory T cell
trit. triturate, grind
TSD time since death
TSE testicular self-examination
TSH thyroid-stimulating hormone
tTG antitransglutaminase
TUMA transurethral microwave antenna
TUR transurethral resection
TURP transurethral resection of the prostate
Tx treatment
U a uranium; unit a
UA urinalysis
UC ulcerative colitis
UE upper extremity
UHF ultrahigh frequency
ult. praes. the last ordered
Umb; umb umbilicus
ung. ointment
URI upper respiratory infection
US ultrasonic, ultrasound
USAN United States Adopted Name
USP United States Pharmacopeia
ut. dict. as directed
UTI urinary tract infection
UV ultraviolet
v vein
VA visual acuity
VC vital capacity
VD venereal disease
VDRL Venereal Disease Research Laboratories
VF ventricular fibrillation
Vf field of vision
VLBW very low birth weight
VLDL very low density lipoprotein
VMA vanillylmandelic acid
VOE VistA-Office Electronic Health Record
vol. volume
vol % volume percent
VORB verbal order read back
V/Q ventilation/perfusion
VS volumetric solution; vesicular sound; vital signs
VSD ventricular septal defect
VT ventricular tachycardia
vv veins
VZIG varicella zoster immune globulin
W tungsten
w watt
WAIS Wechsler Adult Intelligence Scale
WAP written action plan
WBC white blood cell; white blood count
WDWN well-developed, well-nourished
WF/BF white female/black female
WH well-hydrated
WM/BM white male/black male
WN well-nourished
WNL within normal limits
wt. weight
w/v. weight in volume
x multiplied by
y yocto-
yo years old
yr year
Z atomic number
Zn zinc

† To avoid errors in the administration of medications and infusions, spell out the word instead of using the indicated abbreviation. For example, use “international unit” instead of I.U.”; “every day” instead of “q.d.”; “every other day” instead of “q.o.d.”; and “unit” instead of “U.”

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