The lexicon of muscle-building, and training - Part 45


A deformity of the spine in which the vertebral column curves laterally (side to side) in an exaggerated way. From the side view of the body, the spine should be naturally curved in an elongated S shape, but in scoliosis, an S shape is seen from the rear view.


A sequence of reps. A set can consist of one rep (a single), low reps (2 to 4), medium reps (5 to 12), high reps (13 to 25), or very high reps (25+). Different trainees may have different definitions of rep counts. Once beyond the beginner stage, some degree of trial and error is usually needed to find what works best for the individual for a given exercise and goal.

Training tradition and many publications claim that low-rep sets build strength but not much muscular size, whereas medium reps (and sometimes higher) build more size for a comparable degree of strength. Powerlifters and Olympic weight-lifters, who focus on strength, usually favor low-rep sets. The differences in the effects of the different reps may not be as pronounced as tradition suggests, and may vary among different trainees and different exercises.

There are warm-up sets, and work sets. Warm-up sets are done with weights lighter than those to be used for the work sets. Warm-up sets prepare you for the demanding work sets, which are the ones that have the potential to stimulate strength increase and muscle growth.

Set system

The most common form of weight training. The system whereby a specific number of sets is performed for a given exercise before moving onto the next exercise. Warm-up work is done first for a particular exercise — one or more sets — and then the work sets are performed for that same exercise, prior to moving to warm-ups and work sets for the next exercise.

Shrug bar

A hexagonal bar commonly used for the deadlift, and the shrug. It's a variation on the trap bar. The shrug bar permits more foot and leg room.

Single progression

The method of maintaining a constant rep number for a given exercise, and progressively increasing resistance as time goes by. For example, 100 pounds for 8 reps this week, 101 pounds for 8 reps next week, 102 for 8 reps the following week, and so forth. Another type of single progression is to maintain a fixed weight, and keep adding reps.

Also see Double progression.


The performance of sets of just one rep each. Singles may or may not be maximum efforts. A one-rep maximum (1RM) effort is called a maximum single.


Well developed and defined rectus abdominis (abs), named after some resemblance to a six-pack of soda viewed from above A six-pack is also called a washboard.

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