Grammar for exercise, part 2

Grammar for exercise, part 2

Last week we looked at common phrasal verbs and gerunds related to exercise and health. For this week’s Daily Grammar report, we’ll continue to explore exercise vocabulary. We will learn different prepositions, verbs and nouns that we can use to talk about what we do for exercise and how we use our muscles.

Let’s start with common prepositional phrases.

In shape, in shape and out of shape

Two common prepositional expressions we use to talk about physical health are “in shape” or “out of shape”. Another you’ll hear is to “get in shape.”

If you are “in shape”, you are physically strong and fit. Fit people probably exercise regularly and eat well.

Adam was in such good shape last year. He trained almost every day.

If you’re not fit, you’re not physically fit. “Out of” is used to indicate a change from the usual or expected form.

Dmitry was out of shape after his knee surgery.

When you’re out of shape, you may want to “get back in shape.” It means you start doing physical activity to get fit and strong.

Britain’s new year’s resolution is getting back into shape by doing yoga three times per week.

FILE - People do yoga to mark International Yoga Day, in Milan, Wednesday, June 21, 2017. (AP Photo/Luca Bruno)

FILE – People do yoga to mark International Yoga Day, in Milan, Wednesday, June 21, 2017. (AP Photo/Luca Bruno)

Engage and Activate

When you train, it’s important to do the exercises the right way. This protects you from injury and makes your efforts more effective.

You might hear someone tell you to make sure you “engage your muscles.” The verb “to engage” means to involve. When you “engage” your muscles, you use them.

Exercise like yoga engages your heart muscles.

A similar verb is “activate”. It means to make active. When we activate our muscles, we “activate” them or begin to use them. This activation is created by the connection between our brain and our muscles.

If we activate our muscles to exercise, we can better engage the muscles and use them!

It is important to activate your abdominal muscles to support your back.

FILE - Simone Biles of the United States performs on balance beam during the Artistic Gymnastics Women's Apparatus Final at the 2020 Summer Olympics on Tuesday, Aug. 3, 2021, in Tokyo, Japan.  (AP Photo/Ashley Landis)

FILE – Simone Biles of the United States performs on balance beam during the Artistic Gymnastics Women’s Apparatus Final at the 2020 Summer Olympics on Tuesday, Aug. 3, 2021, in Tokyo, Japan. (AP Photo/Ashley Landis)

Nouns

Now let’s look at some names you can use to talk about your exercise routine.

Activities like weightlifting and high intensity training have special words that describe and differentiate exercise groups.

A “rep”, for example, is an abbreviated form of “repeats”. A rep is the number of times you do an exercise movement.

She did 10 reps of squats.

A “set” is a group of repetitions. There are usually around 8-12 reps in a set. There may be fewer reps if the exercise involves heavier weights. And there may be more if the weights are lighter. After each set, you should rest for a minute or two.

I like to do four sets of eight reps of bicep curls.

FILE - Hidilyn Diaz of the Philippines reacts during the women's 55kg weightlifting competition during the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games at the Tokyo International Forum in Tokyo on July 26, 2021. (Photo by Vincenzo PINTO / AFP)

FILE – Hidilyn Diaz of the Philippines reacts during the women’s 55kg weightlifting competition during the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games at the Tokyo International Forum in Tokyo on July 26, 2021. (Photo by Vincenzo PINTO / AFP)

A “superset” is a combination of exercises in a sequence without break or rest. So, you do a set of one type of exercise, focusing on one muscle or group, and then immediately switch to the other type of exercise, focusing on a different muscle or group.

Our superset today includes chest flies and one triceps dip.

A “circuit” is a combination of three or more exercises that you perform back to back with no rest in between. The circuits combine strength training and cardio. Cardio is any type of exercise that makes your heart beat faster and harder for a period of time.

I jumped up and did shoes and slits for my tour today.

An “interval” is the time you take to do the exercise.

We do two-minute intervals of the circuit before taking a 20-second rest.

Finally, a “lap” is the number of times you perform a group of exercises in a circuit.

I completed five laps of the circuit before the time ran out.

Final Thoughts

Today we looked at more common expressions for exercise, including the prepositional phrases “in shape” and “out of shape” and verbs like “engage” and “activate”. We also looked at the differences between “rep”, “set”, and “superset”, among others.

Let’s end this report with some homework.

Try making a few more sentences with the verbs, prepositional phrases or nouns we talked about today.

You can talk about the muscles or parts of the body that you activate or engage during your workout.

Or you can describe your workout routine with names like “round”, “interval”, or “circuit”.

Share your work in the comments!

I am Faith Pirlo.

Faith Pirlo wrote this lesson for VOA Learning English.

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words in this story

gerund – nm (grammar). the -ing form of a verb that acts as a noun

routine – nm a series of actions that repeat themselves in the same way in a given situation

destination – nm a place where a person goes, or something is sent

gymnasium (gymnasium) – nm a building or exercise room

yoga – nm a system of exercises for gaining bodily or mental control and well-being

heartnot. all the muscles of your torso or midsection of your body

abdominal – nm the part of the body below the chest that contains the stomach and other organs

intensity – nm extreme degree of strength, force, energy or feeling

squat nm a position in which your knees are bent and your body lowered so that you are close to your heels or sitting on your heels

bicep curlsnot. an exercise where you bend your arms at the elbow to strengthen your bicep muscle or the front part of the arm

triceps dip not. an exercise to strengthen your triceps, the large muscle at the back of your arm

chest fliesnot. exercises to strengthen chest muscles

cardio nm any type of exercise that makes the heart beat faster and harder for a period of time

pumps – nm an exercise in which you lie on your stomach and raise and lower your body by straightening and bending your arms

slot -v. move or reach forward suddenly with force

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