Like every unique niche the sport of bodybuilding and fitness comes with its own variety of slang and terms. Some of the most used phrases and words are explained in the article below.
Muscle Pump – natural process during which the muscle is engorged with blood and waste byproducts.
During physical activity such as lifting weights the demand for energy increases. In general, the human organism prefers to produce most of its energy through aerobic methods which require “air” (oxygen).However, there are situations when the body needs energy so fast that the delivery of oxygen is not adequate. Lifting weights is anaerobic by nature and is one of those “extreme” situations. The body receives energy from glucose which is broken down or metabolized into a substance called pyruvate. When oxygen is limited the body temporarily converts pyrovate into lactate which allows glucose breakdown and energy production to continue. This energy supply can continue for a shirt period of time (1 to 3 minutes) during which lactate accumulates to high levels. While to some this may seem counter productive, it is a carefully designed system meant to protect the working muscle tissues from trauma. This is a natural defense mechanism and once the activity slows down oxygen becomes available and recovery initiates.
When exercising the muscle is “pumped” with blood which delivers oxygen and nutrients to the cells of the muscle tissue. Additionally, the increased blood circulation flushes out the build lactic acid in the muscle. As a result of all that fluid circulation the muscle becomes visibly enlarged, the veins enlarge as well and the bodybuilder looks bigger as a result – a dream come true.
In the popular movie Pumpin Iron (1977) the legendary bodybuilder Arnold Schwarzenegger made a controversial quote comparing muscle pump to ejaculation. The original quote is as follows:
“The greatest feeling you can get in a gym or the most satisfying feeling you can get in the gym is the pump. Let’s say you train your biceps, blood is rushing in to your muscles and that’s what we call the pump. Your muscles get a really tight feeling like your skin is going to explode any minute and its really tight and its like someone is blowing air into your muscle and it just blows up and it feels different, it feels fantastic. It’s as satisfying to me as cumming is, you know, as in having sex with a woman and cumming. So can you believe how much I am in heaven? I am like getting the feeling of cumming in the gym; I’m getting the feeling of cumming at home; I’m getting the feeling of cumming backstage; when I pump up, when I pose out in front of 5000 people I get the same feeling, so I am cumming day and night. It’s terrific, right? So you know, I am in heaven.”
– Arnold Schwarzenegger
Natty – “natty” is short for “natural”. In the world of bodybuilding and fitness modeling the term is is used to describe an individual who does not use anabolic steroids or other muscle enhancing drugs.
Ripped physique – this term describes a body with low amount of fat cells and visible muscle details. To understand the term more clearly, imagine a stone which is about to become a sculpture. Without any processing it has not shape and looks like a block. After the sculptor begins his work the stone is slowly acquiring shape and definition – just like a fat bodybuilder who loses weight and gradually his muscles become more visible and clear.
Shredded physique – this term is very similar to the above one (“ripped physique”) and is used to describe a physique that is even more defined. A shredded bodybuilder is someone who has extremely low bodyfat and even the cross striations of the muscles are visible.
G4P – “g4p” stands for “gay for pay” and describes paid homosexual related services. Due to the high amount of homosexual people in bodybuilding this is a popular practice. The term has been explained in details in THIS article.
Dry physique – term used to describe a water depleted bodybuilder. Since water weight can sometimes mask muscle definition, bodybuilders lose water before contest in order to look more “detailed”.
Fullness – term describing muscles that look like they are about to pop out of the skin. The goal of every bodybuilder is to be both – full and shredded, on contest day.
Bitch tits – bodybuilding term describing the development of female like breast as a result of hormonal imbalance caused by abuse of anabolic steroids. The breasts are usually small, firm and resemble the ones of a female dog (bitch). The official word for this condition is Gynecomastia. Depending on the severity of the problem surgery may be required to fix it.
Vascularity – the visibility of veins. The less body fat a bodybuilder has, the more visible the veins become.
V-Taper – this term is used to describe the so-called classic bodybuilding look which requires the athlete to have wide shoulder, big back (especially the latissimus dorsi) and small mid-section. When those conditions are met the outlines of the torso form the letter “V”.
Photoshop look – this term describes the unreal look most bodybuilder have. Most of the IFBB pro bodybuilders look so big that they look like they were made with a digital brush in Adobe Photoshop.
Freak – bodybuilder with unreal muscle development. People usually stare at those individuals like a rare specimen unseen before in nature.
Flatness – the opposite of fullness; the muscles look depleted and small due to over-training, poor diet or as a result of injury.
Dialed in physique – this term describes a bodybuilder who has done everything necessary to bring the best possible look on stage. In other words, he did all that was needed.
Bulking up – the process of gaining as much weight as possible through increased calorie intake. The goal is to get big, although often large portion of the gains are fat.
Dirty bulking – the process of gaining as much weight as possible without following a clean diet. The nutritional plan may include even junk food and as a result a lot of fat is gained at the end of the phase. A bodybuilder well known for his dirty bulking is IFBB pro Lee Priest who eats doughnuts and McDonald’s food on regular basis.
Clean bulking – the process of gaining weight while following a specific diet meant to reduce the amounts of fat gained during the base phase. The nutritional planusually consists of supposedly organic food such as chicken breast and broccoli.
DPP: Short for discipline, persistence and patience. Bodybuilding may not be a particularly technical sport but it still requires unreal amount of dedication. Athletes have to follow strict eating and drug regimes. In times when one feels like going crazy – DPP is what’s needed to survive and move on.
Macros – short for macro nutrients (protein, carbohydrates and fats); macronutrients provide the bulk energy for an organism’s metabolic system to function.
Midgets – term used to describe short bodybuilders. The term is considered insulting and yet often used.
Guns – slang for the muscles of the upper arms – biceps and triceps. Big guns = powerful arms.
Thong (clothing) – slang used to describe the so-called posing trunks bodybuilders wear during contests.
Hardness – term used to describe full and ripped physique. When an individual has low bodyfat he/she looks hard because without fatness there is no softness.
Smooth physique – describes a bodybuilder who has higher body fat levels and musculature lacking detail.