Feb 22, 2021 in DIS-TANZ-SOLO

Glossary of Strength and Conditioning Terminology Page Title Photo

While working with sports scientist Patrick Rump, it quickly became clear that dance and sports science don’t always use the same terminology. Or more precisely, that we dancers don’t always differentiate well enough when we talk about certain aspects of our work. For example, I explained that I lacked the necessary strength for a certain movement sequence, but after demonstrating said sequence, Patrick told me that I had sufficient strength, but that I lacked the necessary strength endurance. I have had very similar experiences in my own work as a teacher regarding the difficulty of a lack of common terminology.

So, to make it easier for anyone interested in sports science, I’ve put together a glossary of the most common strength training and conditioning terms. It does not claim to be complete in any way, but should be comprehensive enough to provide a basis for further research.


Abduction is the movement of a body part away from the median plane, or midline of the body.

Absolute Strength

Absolute strength is the maximum amount of force your muscles can produce in a single contraction under involuntary conditions. An untrained individual can only tap into about 65% of absolute strength during a weight-training session; if you’ve been weight training a while you can conceivably tap into more of your absolute strength, around 80% through focused, conscious effort. Only in extreme emergency situations fight-or-flight chemicals gush through the system and the brain overrides the protective mechanisms that shield your muscles and tendons from damage.


Adduction is the movement of a body part toward the median plane, or midline of the body.

Aerobic exercise

Aerobic means in the presence of, or with, oxygen. Aerobic exercise is the type of moderate-intensity physical activity that you can sustain for more than just a few minutes with the objective of improving your cardiorespiratory fitness.

AnAerobic exercise

Anaerobic exercise is any activity that breaks down glucose for energy without using oxygen. Generally, these activities are of short length with high intensity.

Ballistic Training

Ballistic training, also called power training, is a form of training which involves throwing weights, and jumping with weights, in order to increase explosive power. The intention in ballistic exercises is to maximise the acceleration phase of an object's movement and minimise the deceleration phase.

Biomotor abilities

Strength, endurance, speed, flexibility and coordination are often referred to as primary (or foundation) biomotor abilities because, they are required to perform the bulk of movement patterns. The secondary (or derivatives) biomotor abilities are often the crossings of primary ones along with contributions from specific body systems. Examples for secondary biomotor abilities are mobility, balance, power, and agility.

Body Composition

In physical fitness, body composition is used to describe the percentages of fat, bone, water and muscle in human bodies. Two people of the same gender and body weight may look completely different because they have a different body composition.

Cardiorespiratory endurance

Cardiorespiratory endurance is the ability to perform large-muscle, whole body exercise at a moderate to high intensity for extended periods of time.

Circuit training

Circuit training is a form of body conditioning that involves endurance training, resistance training, high-intensity aerobics, and exercises performed in a circuit, similar to High-intensity interval training. It targets strength building and muscular endurance.

Closed Kinetic Chain Exercise

The closed kinetic chain involves a combination of successively arranged joints in which the most distal segment is restricted from movement. Typically, closed kinetic chain exercises are multi-joint movements.

Compound Exercises

Compound exercises are exercises that work multiple muscle groups at the same time. For example, a squat is a compound exercise that works the quadriceps, glutes, and calves.

Concentric contraction

A concentric contraction is a type of muscle contraction in which the muscles shorten while generating force, overcoming resistance.

Delayed Onset Muslce Soreness (DOMS)

Delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS) is a sore, aching, painful feeling in the muscles after unfamiliar and unaccustomed intense exercise. DOMS is thought to be due to temporary muscle damage and inflammation for which the most common trigger appears to be eccentric exercises. The soreness starts a day following the activity but usually peaks within 48 hours.

Drop Sets

Drop sets are an advanced training technique specifically designed for muscle hypertrophy. The idea is that you start with your heaviest weight load and perform as many reps as you can until failure, then immediately reduce your weight load and repeat. This technique is pretty intense and shouldn't be overdone.

Eccentric contraction

An eccentric contraction results in the elongation of a muscle while the muscle is still generating force; in effect, the resistance is greater than the force generated. Eccentric contractions can be both voluntary and involuntary. (An involuntary eccentric contraction may occur when a weight is too great for a muscle to bear and so it is slowly lowered while under tension.)

Explosive strength

Explosive strength, a component of speed strength, is the ability to exert maximal force in a minimal amount of time. Exercises used to develop explosive strength are defined as those in which the initial rate of concentric force production is maximal or near maximal and is maintained throughout the range of motion of the exercise.


Extension is the process of straightening, or the state of being straight. Extension movements increase the angle between a segment and its proximal segment.


Flexion is the process of bending, or the state of being bent. Flexion movements decrease the angle between a segment and its proximal segment.

Full-Body Workout

A full-body workout means you are exercising your entire body and stimulating all of your major muscle groups in one session.

High-intensity interval training (HIIT) / high-intensity intermittent exercise (HIIE)

HIIT / HIIE is a form of interval training, a cardiovascular exercise strategy alternating short periods of intense anaerobic exercise with less intense recovery periods, until too exhausted to continue (i.e Peter Coe regimen, Tabata regimen, Gibala regimen, Zuniga regimen, Vollaard regimen).

Intermuscular Coordination

Intermuscular coordination refers to the coordination between different muscles or groups of muscles.

Intramuscular (Neuromuscular) Coordination

Intramuscular coordination refers to the ability of the neuromuscular system to allow optimal levels of motor unit recruitment and synchronization within a single muscle. If the fibers in the muscle all contract and relax in sync, then you are producing more muscle power, without your muscle necessarily being very big.

Isometric contraction

An isometric contraction is the contraction of a muscle without any visible change of length, hence no movement in the angle of the joint.

Isotonic contraction

Isotonic contractions maintain constant tension in the muscle as the muscle changes length. Isotonic muscle contractions can be either concentric or eccentric.

Macronutrient ratio

The macronutrient ratio is the ratio of carbs, proteins and fats in a person’s diet. A macro-based diet looks at the macronutrient ratio rather than total calorie counts alone.

Maximum Heart Rate (MHR or HRmax)

The maximum heart rate is the maximum number of beats made by your heart in 1 minute of effort.

Maximum strength

Maximum strength is the highest level of muscle force that can be voluntarily produced; it is the ability of a muscle or specific group of muscles to recruit and engage all motor units to generate maximal tension against an external resistance. Requires high levels of both intra- and intermuscular coordination.

Momentary muscular failure (MMF)

Momentary muscular failure is the point where the neuromuscular system can no longer produce adequate force to overcome a specific workload. Training close enough to failure is necessary for maximal hypertrophic response.

Muscle Atrophy

The term muscle atrophy refers to the loss of muscle tissue. Atrophied muscles appear smaller than normal. Lack of physical activity due to an injury or illness, poor nutrition, genetics, and certain medical conditions can all contribute to muscle atrophy.

Muscular Endurance (Strength Endurance)

Muscular endurance (or strength endurance) is the ability of a muscle or group of muscles to sustain repeated contractions against a resistance for an extended period of time. Put simply, strength endurance training means training with a high number of repetitions at low weights (around 50-60% of the 1RM). Muscular endurance training increases existing muscles. However, no new muscle fibres are produced.

Muscular Hypertrophy

Muscular hypertrophy refers to an increase in muscle mass and cross-sectional area. This usually manifests as an increase in muscle size and strength.

Negative training

Negative training is an advanced technique that emphasizes the negative (eccentric) phase of the movement to produce greater force output.

One-Repetition Maximum (1RM)

One-Repetition maximum (1RM) is an established measure of muscular strength and is defined as the maximum amount of force that can be generated by an individual in one maximal contraction.

Open Kinetic Chain Exercise

The open kinetic chain involves a combination of successively arranged joints in which the most distal segment moves freely in space. In most cases, open kinetic chain exercises are single-joint movements.


Periodization is the process of dividing an annual training plan into specific time blocks, where each block has a particular goal and provides your body with different types of stress. This allows you to create some hard training periods and some easier periods to facilitate recovery. Periodization consists of three types of cycles: macrocycle (typically 12 months), mesocycle (typically 3-8 weeks), and microcycle (typically 1 week).

Post-Activation Potentiation (PAP)

Post-activation potentiation refers to a short-term improvement in performance as a result of a previous conditioning exercise. It is a phenomenon by which the force exerted by a muscle is increased due to its previous contraction.


Plyometric training involves a rapid eccentric contraction followed quickly by explosive concentric contraction of the same muscle. The most common plyometric exercises involve jumping movements.

Progressive overload

The progressive overload principle involves continually increasing the demands on the musculoskeletal and nervous system to continually make gains in muscle size, strength, and endurance. This can be achieved by increasing the resistance, increasing the reps, increasing the volume, increasing training frequency, or decreasing rest time between sets. The progressive-overload principle can also be applied to cardiovascular-fitness programs, creating physiological changes that affect aerobic metabolism and the cardiorespiratory system.


The act of turning the body to a prone position, or the state of being prone. Pronation at the forearm is a rotational movement where the hand and upper arm are turned so the thumbs point towards the body. Pronation of the foot is turning of the sole outwards, so that weight is borne on the medial part of the foot.

Pyramid training

In resistance training, a pyramid is a basic structure that you create when arranging your sets and reps of a given exercise. It entails starting out light and stepping up the weight you use on successive sets. As you keep adding weight, the number of reps you can do goes down, which illustrates the inverse relationship between the two variables.

Rate of Force Development (RFD)

The rate of force development (RFD) is a measure of explosive strength. It is defined as the speed at which the contractile elements of the muscle can develop force. RFD is mainly related to neural activation and the firing frequency of the muscular fibres seems to be the most important factor contributing to it, fibre type and muscle size are secondary factors.

Rate of Perceived Exertion (RPE)

RPE is a useful tool that helps people manage the intensity of their physical exercise. When reporting RPE, individuals usually use the Borg Rating of Perceived Exertion Scale. The 15-point scale ranges from 6 to 20, with 6 representing no exertion and 20 indicating maximum exertion.

Reactive Strength

Reactive strength, a component of speed strength, represents the ability to effectively make use of the stretch shortening cycle (SSC). It is an expression of the ability to change from an eccentric to a concentric contraction as quickly as possible and with as much force as possible.

Relative strength

Relative strength is the maximum amount of force your muscles can produce under voluntary conditions in relation to your body mass.

Reps in Reserve (RIR)

Reps in Reserve (RIR) is the amount of reps you have left in the tank after completing a set or in other words, how many more reps could you have done before reaching failure on a set.

Specific Adaptation to Imposed Demands (SAID) or The Principle of Specificity

The SAID principle states that the body responds to a given demand, whether biomechanical or neurological, with a specific, predictable adaptation. Simply put, it is paramount to select exercises that are specific to your goals.

Speed strength

Speed strength is the ability of the neuromuscular system to produce the greatest possible impulse in the shortest possible time. Speed Strength is characterized by three distinct components: starting strength, explosive strength, and reactive strength.

Split System Training (Or Body Part Split)

Split system training is a program of weight training that divides training sessions by body regions. This way, you can put more emphasis on specific muscle groups and reach intensity levels that you wouldn’t be able to achieve in a full-body workout.

Starting strength

Starting strength is a component of speed strength and is defined as the ability to recruit as many motor units as possible instantaneously at the start of a movement.

Stretch-Shortening Cycle (SSC)

The stretch-shortening cycle (SSC) refers to the ‘pre-stretch’ or ‘countermovement’ action that is commonly observed during typical human movements such as jumping. This pre-stretch allows the athlete to produce more force and move quicker. During the SSC the muscle undergoes an eccentric contraction (deceleration), followed by a transitional period (amortisation) prior to the concentric contraction (acceleration).


Supercompensation is the theory that after training, the body recovers above and beyond pre-training fitness levels. This adaptation is the essence of physical training and enables us to improve our fitness.


There are two different types of supersets: An antagonist superset is when you perform two exercises back to back of an opposing muscle group with little to no rest in between. An agonist superset is working two exercises in the same muscle group back to back with little to no rest in between.


The act of turning the body to a supine position, or the state of being supine. Supination of the forearm occurs when the forearm or palm are rotated outwards. Supination of the foot is turning of the sole of the foot inwards, shifting weight to the lateral edge.

VO2 Max

VO2 max is the maximum or optimum rate at which the heart, lungs, and muscles can effectively use oxygen during exercise, used as a way of measuring a person's individual aerobic capacity.
Header photo by Kelly Sikkema on Unsplash


DIS-TANZ-SOLO Research Bibliography


DIS-TANZ-SOLO Research Links


Gefördert durch die Beauftragte der Bundesregierung für Kultur und Medien im Programm NEUSTART KULTUR, Hilfsprogramm DIS-TANZEN des Dachverband Tanz Deutschland.

Logo Die Beauftragte der Bundesregierung für Kultur und Medien
Logo Neustart Kultur
Logo Dachverband Tanz Deutschland
Logo Dis-Tanzen