7 things you hear in the gym, explained


I know I throw around a lot of terms when I am in the gym, and I know that not all of them are as obvious as I sometimes think… but that’s what this list is for – so you can always know exactly what I mean when I’m yelling at you from across the gym

Engaging your core is a stabilizing term. You’re drawing your stomach in towards your spine and activating the muscles in your core. Kind of like you’re pinching your belly button to your vertebrae. What this does is brace your back muscles and help to stabilize not only your stomach, but your spine. It helps you to breathe properly and to support your entire body. After all, your strength in your core begets strength throughout the rest of your body.

Sometimes, I say “square your shoulders,” instead of “square your hips,” but it all means the same thing. You’re keeping your hips and your shoulders in line with each other and generally parallel to the ground. (See the photo of me doing a row in this blog, used for the headers). If you’re doing a one-armed row, for example, when I say square your hips (or shoulders), what I want you to do is level out your hips so that they are parallel to the floor. You will also need to engage your core for this (see above). This gives the rest of your body proper stability and helps to lock your balance in place.

I don’t mean lay on a stretcher and have your spine pulled to a longer size… what I mean is stretch out your spinal muscles in a line and fully extend them. When you’re sitting at work and you’re hunched over your keyboard, or you’re driving your car hunched over the wheel or even when you’re texting on your phone and hunched over it… you’re doing the opposite of lengthening your spine. Lengthening your spine involves sitting or standing straight up and allowing your muscles to stretch to their longest positions possible so that you can properly align your body, your back and even your breathing. Fun tip, right?

Staying light on your toes and landing lightly are terms most often used when I am having you do agility-like movements or jumps. You’re stabilizing your landing and maintaining control of your body by landing on the balls of your feet or the toes and then rolling back to your heels. The opposite of being light on your toes is just landing on your heels. The dead giveaway on if you’re doing this correctly? The lighter you are on your toes, the quieter your landing.

This term is one that is relatively confusing for some people because it can be applied in multiple ways. What I mean is you want to push the floor away from you. Using your hands or your legs, depending on the movement, you want to engage your core and then push the ground away. Putting pressure against the floor will help you to stabilize your legs and your shoulders by activating those stabilizing muscles. You are using your environment to help push your body into position rather than just relying on your own muscles. It’s a combination of gravity and a solid object that will help you squat deeper and do stronger push-ups.

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