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Macros? Personal Trainer Explains the Fitness Terms that Baffle Us the Most!

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Last updated on November 14th, 2020 at 06:26 PM

When we first went into lockdown in March, we embraced the chance to work on ourselves and took up more exercise at home. 

But with a multitude of techniques, methods and terms in the fitness world, it’s daunting for those of us outside the industry to enter it?

To find out, MyVitalMetrics used SEMrush to uncover the health and fitness terms baffling us the most, and MyVitalMetrics’s founder Owen Hutchins has defined the top ten.


Whilst mainstream in the health and fitness world, we are most baffled by the term macros (a.k.a. macronutrients) according to how often they search for it – an average of 32,050 Google searches a month go to trying to define it.

  • Owen says:

“When someone says ‘macro’, they are talking about the main composition of a meal or your diet. The three macronutrients are carbohydrates, proteins and fats, and are called macros because unlike vitamins and minerals which occur in tiny amounts (micronutrients), they are found in larger quantities.

If someone asks you about your macros, they are asking what percentage of your food comes from each of these groups – e.g. 40% carbs, 30% protein and 30% fat.”

In second place is high-intensity interval training (HIIT), with the explosion of this trend piquing our’ curiosity. To define it and find how they can incorporate it into their home workouts, 29,610 we Google the method every month.

  • Owen says:

“HIIT training is a style of training where, after an appropriate warmup, you exercise for short intervals of maximum effort followed by a (usually) longer rest period. One example of this would be 30 seconds ‘on’ and then 1 minute ‘off’.

If you train with intervals of higher intensity but not absolute pedal to the metal intensity, then you are using Interval training, not HIIT – it needs to be maximal effort. Due to its intensity, HIIT sessions usually last no longer than 20-30 minutes.”

The third most baffling fitness term to Brits is delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS), with the muscle problem and how to solve it subject to 29,010 monthly Google searches.

  • Owen says:

“DOMS is the feeling you get in a muscle usually 24-48 hours after a weight training session. With this style of training it is the result of micro-tears made in the muscle and is usually a good sign that you’ve trained hard enough to create a bodily response. When the body repairs muscle after these micro-tears it usually repairs it slightly stronger, so that more can be lifted next time.”

Lactic acidosis is also a commonly searched term in the UK – 22,460 Google searchers aim to find its meaning and relevance to their fitness goals every month, placing it in fourth.

  • Owen says:

“When we exercise, our body needs to generate energy in the cells and part of this process creates a product lactic acid. Lactic acid is used in another metabolic process to create more energy, but when exercising very intensely the body can produce more lactic acid than it can use in this second process.

Lactic acidosis is the result of this lactic acid build-up in the blood, making the working muscle feel like it’s burning. Usually this just means we need to lower the intensity to allow the body to flush out and use the remaining lactic acid. This is also temporary and should not be confused with the genetic metabolic disorder of the same name.”

In fifth place is ketosis, with the metabolic state and its benefits in fitness piquing the curiosity of 22,340 Brits every month.

  • Owen says:

“With the popularity of the keto diet, there is some confusion about what ketosis is. At its most basic, ketosis is the result of burning fat for fuel when the body doesn’t have any carbs in the system.

Specifically, when the body burns fat as fuel, as part of that process it creates chemicals called ketone bodies.

These ketone bodies are then normally burned in another energy production process which takes some glycogen (stored sugar) and uses it together with the ketones to create more energy. However, if there is no glycogen available this process cannot be completed, so the ketone bodies remain in the blood and urine. This is ketosis.”

The popular muscle building exercise Romanian deadlift (RDL) is still a mystery to many Brits and places in sixth – it’s searched for 22,250 times a month by those trying to find out more.

  • Owen says:

“A Romanian deadlift is a variation on the standard deadlift. While a normal deadlift includes picking the bar up from the floor by bending deeply at both knees and the hips, the Romanian variation contains much less knee-bend so most of the movement is created by bending over at the hips while keeping the lower back engaged. It is considered a much more challenging variation as it focuses more on hamstrings and glutes.”

Tabata places in seventh. 20,970 Brits a month take to Google to define the sub-type of high-intensity interval training.

  • Owen says:

“Tabata is a style of HIIT training with specific timings, where you work intensely for very short periods of time – usually 20 seconds only, followed by 40 seconds of rest. Repeat this eight times, and then have a longer 2-3 minute rest, repeating the working set for a total of three sets.”

Related to muscle growth but still unknown to many, the term hypertrophy claims eighth place – it totals 20,890 monthly Google searches

  • Owen says:

“Hypertrophy is the process of building muscle. If your muscles become bigger from weight training, then they are undergoing hypertrophy. When talking exercises, the type of exercise that has been shown to generate hypertrophy in muscles is resistance training with sets of 8-12 repetitions.”

In ninth place is VO2 max, also known as maximal oxygen uptake. The technical term is important to many fitness goals in the UK as 17,460 people are searching to define it every month.

  • Owen says:

“A person’s VO2 max is the ultimate measure of their cardiovascular fitness – it is a measure of how much oxygen a person’s body will absorb when they are working at the limit of their ability. The only way to directly test your VO2 max is by going into a testing centre, where you will wear a mask with an air tube going connecting to a gas mixing chamber mixture.

You’ll then exercise on a stationary bike at an increasing intensity until you can’t go any further, all the while the machine analyses the air you exhale to see what fuel you are using. It will calculate your VO2 max score from this.”

To complete the top ten confusing fitness terms, circuit training joins in tenth place. The form of body conditioning is defined by 16,930 Brits every month.

  • Owen says:

“Circuit training is a form of body conditioning and style of training involving a number of different exercises. A circuit trainer will carry them out one after another at different stations before arriving back at the original exercise. This can be repeated as many times as you like.”


MyVitalMetrics also surveyed a random selection of 3,643 fitness fanatics across Britain to further investigate their knowledge.

When confused about a term or method, participants were asked where they most frequently turn to for information, with the most popular answer being Google (33%). Interestingly, the next most popular confidant was their personal trainer (or gym staff) with 31% of the votes, followed by YouTube/social media (25%) and finally family and friends (11%).

Brits are also concerned with appearing knowledgeable in front of others. When asked, a whopping 71% said they have lied about understanding something to avoid embarrassment (23% haven’t; 6% unsure). Our appearance and competence in fitness is a real issue, with recent research by GolfSupport suggesting the most likely recipient of our fitness fibs is a love interest.


*To find total average monthly search volumes, a combination of ‘___ definition’, ‘define ____’ ‘what does ____ mean’ plus general phrases for each fitness term were inserted into SEMrush, and these values were combined for total values. Search volumes were obtained on 30/09/20 and are accurate as of then.