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"Tabata," "EPOC," And Other Tough Fitness Terms You Should Know!

October 07, 2015 4 min read

You've probably heard some of these words a million times, but if you are new to fitness they can seem downright confusing. It is like people are speaking a different language. What is plyometrics and what does EPOC stand for? What are these electrolytes you've been hearing about? Thanks to Shape, your questions have been answered. Now, when chatting with your trainer, you can actually understand what s/he is saying! Here are some of the most common terms you'll hear and what you need to know:


High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) is a word you've no doubt come across. It involves short bursts of high intensity exercise -- as close to max effort as possible, followed by a lower intensity recovery period. Although there is no specific formula, most HIIT sessions operate on a 2:1 ratio. For example, 40 seconds of sprinting followed by 20 seconds of jogging or walking then you repeat. This can be done with any combination of exercises, and can be used both in your cardio sessions and your strength training sessions. Giving yourself these periods of serious effort allows you to get a great metabolism boost and fat burn in a much shorter workout.

tabata workout


Tabata is similar to HIIT but has a more specific pattern. Tabata is always 8 rounds of 20 seconds of very high intensity followed by 10 seconds of recovery. This method was created in the 90s by professor Izumi Tabata when he discovered that athletes who performed this 4 minute workout had better VO2 max and fat burning abilities than those who performed a lower intensity workout over a longer period of time.

Cardiorespiratory Fitness

The more fit you become, the better your cardiovascular system (blood circulation) and respiratory system (oxygen circulation) can supply oxygen to working muscles and the better your muscles become at absorbing it. The more efficiently this system works, the more you body can sustain exercise over long periods which is what determines your fitness.

VO2 Max

This is your maximal volume of oxygen. It is a measure of your heart, lungs and blood's capacity for delivering oxygen to working muscles as well as your muscles' ability to take up and use oxygen during a workout. Although your VO2 max is a great measure of your fitness, it is largely determined by your genetics. It depends on the type of muscle fibers you have as well as your cardiorespiratory system, which is why some people are naturally better at sports than others. With some training you can influence your VO2 max by up to 15% and your best chance for improving this measurement is to incorporate short, high intensity workouts to your routine.


EPOC is the key to burning fat and calories even after you've left the gym. If you exercise really hard, your body has a difficult time replacing the energy stores used in the workout. This means your metabolism stays in overdrive even when you're done working out and going about your normal day. This is known as Excess Post Exercise Oxygen Consumption or, as you may sometimes hear, 'afterburn.' EPOC has nothing to do with how long you've worked out but everything to do with how hard you've worked out. If you reach at least 70% of your max heart rate, you will get to reap the EPOC benefits all day long!

Target Heart Rate

You can likely guess at this one but there are some important details that you should know. This is the ideal range for your heart rate during exercise. This number can change based on your goals. If you are looking to burn fat, you'll have one number but it will be different if you're looking to up your VO2 max, for example. It is also important to know that everyone's target heart rate is different. It depends on your age, weight, and fitness level. First, find your max heart rate by following this formula, 208-(0.7 x age). If you are looking to improve cardiovascular fitness, you'll want to stay within 50-85% of your max heart rate. For example, if you are 30 years old, your max heart rate is 187. This means your target should be between 93 and 160 beats per minute.


This is a category of exercises that intends to have your muscles rapidly stretch and then contract over and over. These sorts of exercises include box jumps, hops, skipping and throwing. When you jump, your muscles stretch, when you land, they contract. The goal of these workouts is to build greater explosive power and have better neuromuscular coordination.



Your body needs the right balance of electrolytes for the muscles to contract and relax properly. Unfortunately, when we sweat, we lose this important mineral. So, after a particularly hard workout, you need to replenish. But don't go reaching for the Gatorade, necessarily. The majority of us don't work nearly hard enough for that. Instead, just make sure your post workout meal includes the minerals magnesium, sodium, potassium and chloride -- easily done with a plate of fruits and veggies with a dash of table salt-- add a glass of water and you're on your way. Were you confused by any of these terms the first time you heard them? Does having knowledge of these terms make you feel more comfortable planning the workout that is right for you and your goals? Source: Shape

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