Fitness Dictionary
by Justin French







Cable Machine. Cable Stack. An exercise machine in which the lifter pulls on a handle attached to a cable. The main difference between an exercise in which the resistance is transmitted through a cable rather than being done with free weights is that the force is in the direction of the cable rather than always pointing downwards. For example, when using a cable machine to perform curls , the cable may continue to provide resistance at the top of the movement while the resistance the biceps must work against when lifting free weights is minimal when the forearm is at or near vertical.

Caffeine is a drug that stimulates the brain, the metabolism and the bowels.

Calf Muscle. Tthe muscle on the back of the lower leg responsible for extending the ankle and flexing the knee. The calf muscle has two heads, which connect at the bottom and attach to the heel: the gastrocnemius, the top of which attaches above the knee joint, and the soleus which attaches below.

An instrument used to measure skinfold thickness and calculate approximate body fat percentage.

A unit of energy, equal to the amount of energy needed to heat one gram of water one degree celsius. In common usage, the "calories" most often refer to kilocalories (also known as Kcal or "food calories") which are really 1000 calories.

Similar to a pulley , a cam normally has a cable attached to one point of the rim, an attached axle that transmits rotational force to or from another part of the machine, and a radius that varies with angle, changing the amount of force applied at different parts of the movement in a consistent manner.

Cambered Bar
A barbell with most of the middle offset; used to increase the range of motion in bench pressing and also very effective for avoiding scraped knees while deadlifting and for letting the arms hang straight down during shrugs.

see cyclic Adenosine Monophosphate

A carotenoid related to beta carotene used as a red food coloring. When taken in (relatively) large quantities, it imparts a reddish-orange tone to the skin leading to its use as a tanning aid. It is non-toxic and has some antioxidant activity, but prolonged use at high doses has been known to cause crystals to form inside the eye.

The active chemical in hot peppers

Digestible food components such as starches and sugars that are composed of carbon, hydrogen, and oxygen, but not nitrogen. Carbohydrates are the main constituent of most vegetables and fruits, provide four calories per gram, and are present only in small quantities in animal products.

After any period of carbohydrate depletion, particularly as part of a cyclic ketogenic diet , the consumption of large quantities of carbohydrates with the intent of saturating muscle glycogen stores.

Carpal Tunnel
A result of typing large internet dictionaries.

Catabolism. The state in which a tissue breaks down.

cubic centimeter

Central Nervous System
CNS. The brain and spinal cord (in vertebrates)

Cheat Reps
Cheating. A cheat rep is a repetition performed by deviating from strict form (leaning, adding extra momentum at the bottom of the movement with whole-body motion).

A classic exercise where you pull your whole body weight upwards with your arms until your chin just clears the bar.

Circuit Training
A sequence of exercises performed one after the other with little rest in between. Think of it as being somewhere in between traditional aerobics and traditional weight training.

Citric Acid Cycle
see Krebs cycle

see conjugated linoleic acid

see central nervous system

Weight collars. Any kind of sleeve which may be slipped over the end of a weight bar after the plates have been put on and then tightened to hold the plates securely on the bar. This prevents plates from slipping off the end of the bar, shifting position, or rattling during the exercise.

a thin, lemon-colored liquid produced by the mother's breasts in the first day or so after giving birth. While colostrum is beneficial for a newborn infant of the same species as the one providing the colostrum, it is not beneficial for adults. Adults do not have the same capacity as a newborn animal to take up entire proteins in the GI system without digesting them first. Do not waste your money on colostrum unless you're less than 6 months old and of bovine origin.

Compound Movement
Compound exercise. An exercise that targets more than one muscle or muscle group simultaneously; usually the movement involves flexing or extending at least two joints. Lat pulldowns, squats, and bench presses are compound movements.

Concentration Curls
A type of bicep curl performed one-handed with a dumbbell , the torso leaning far forward and the elbow either directly below the shoulder or somewhat behind. Usually the upper arm is supported by the inner thigh of the lifter, though this is not required.

The muscle reduces in length as it contracts. Example: During a bicep curl the bicep contracts concentrically (the muscle shortens) as the weight is lifted.

Conjugated Linoleic Acid
CLA. A particular structural variant of linoleic acid (a common unsaturated fatty acid). Several studies exist supporting a potential health benefit of conjugated linoleic acid (CLA). No studies suggest that it will aid muscle growth or fat loss. It is food, certainly better than some other fat sources, but treat it accordingly.

catabolic steroids such as prednisone or cortisol. These are used to reduce inflammation by signalling tissues to break down. While this certainly does have medical uses, corticosteroids will not aid in building muscle--quite the opposite, in fact.

Cortisol, Cortisone
A corticosteroid

Muscle cramp. A painful, involuntary muscular contraction or pain in the muscle due to hypoxia or toxins.

Naturally occurring in muscle tissue, creatine functions as a secondary reservoir for short-term energy to be drawn upon when ATP (adenosine triphosphate) stores--the energy storage molecule that drives muscular contraction--are depleted. Supplemental creatine monohydrate added to the diet will increase the concentration of creatine phosphate within muscle tissue which may increase one's ability to perform brief, high-intensity exercise.


An abdominal exercise performed by "curling" the midsection to draw the base of the ribcage and the hips as close together as possible; the hip joints themselves should not move during the movement and are usually held at a 90-degree angle by putting the lower legs on a chair or bench with one's back on the floor.

Cutting, Cutting Up
To lose bodyfat, preferably with as little loss of muscle and other lean tissue as possible.

Cyclic Adenosine Monophosphate
Important in the regulation of metabolic and neurologic processes and activity, cAMP is generated in response to the activation of cellular receptors and, in turn, the presence of cAMP within the cell activates the process in question. cAMP is broken down by cAMP-phosphodiesterase.
The activity and duration of the process is governed by the rate at which cAMP is produced in response to receptor activation and the rate at which it is broken down. This is why the combination of ephedrine and caffeine produce a greater metabolic response than the sum of their effects when taken individually: ephedrine increseases receptor activation, caffiene inhibits cAMP breakdown.

In reference to drugs or supplements, a "cycle" is a dosage or usage regimen that lasts a finite period of time with a planned sequence of doses and times, which may or may not be the same.