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September 27, 2010, 12:00AM PT in Exam Preparation Blog  |  2 Comments

Anatomy - Insert what? Originate where?

Human AnatomyAhhh, anatomy…everyone’s favorite subject. It may be because anatomy comes first in your studies, or maybe because it’s so in depth, but anatomy seems to be the first and sometimes biggest frustration for candidates.

For your reference…Anatomy is located in your manual:

ACE’s Essentials of Exercise Science for Fitness Professionals – Chap. 1

Remember that anatomy is a fundamental science for fitness professionals - there is no way of getting around the fact that you need to know your anatomy. On the ACE exam, the anatomy is a small portion of the test. In real life, anatomy is a much bigger deal. What you are studying now is setting the foundation for your future, so take your time to learn and absorb it.

When reviewing human anatomy it seems that most people are still familiar with the basics from grade school – what does the respiratory system do? What does the digestive system do? How does our blood flow?  It’s familiar if perhaps a bit more detailed than we remember.

The hang up, and panic, comes when candidates start to study the muscles and joints. There’s so many! Hundreds of things to memorize!  We talked earlier about taking one body part at a time and that still applies here – lower leg first, shoulders next, arm next etc. We’re going to take the next step and start macro (big scale) and go micro (small scale). We’ll use the lower leg for our example.

First step is to list which bones and major muscles make up your lower leg:

1) Tibia and fibula bones

2).Gastrocnemius and soleous muscles in the posterior and anterior tibilais in the anterior.

Sure, there are lots of other muscles involved in the lower leg – the flexor digitorum longus, the plantaris and popliteus to name a few. But we’re starting big (macro) and focusing on the major muscles. We’ll get to the others later (micro).

So now you know the major muscles of the lower leg. The next step is to figure out their origin and insertion (o/i). Yes, I know it lists the o/i in a nice table in your book, but I’m talking about ‘knowing’ where they are on your body. Get out that supplemental anatomy text and actually figure out where the posterior femoral condyles are (hint look at a skeleton). That’s your origin. Now, where is the posterior surface of the calcaneus via the Achilles tendon? That’s your insertion. Now poke around and find those same spots on your body - it’s hands on practice that can help the info sink in.

Now that you’ve figured out your o/i, go ahead, wipe your brow and let out a big sigh. Yes, I’m serious about knowing the o/i for your major muscles. Why? Well, because knowing the o/i can help you remember the motion that muscle makes when it contracts. For example: with where the origin and insertion of the gastrocnemius occur, when the muscle contracts (starting at the origin and moving towards the insertion) it causes knee flexion and plantar flexion.  Try it yourself; did you see how it works? Now let’s find another muscle and do the same thing!

Yes, I know that the rumor is you don’t have to know o/i for the exam and I’d probably agree that they aren’t going to ask you specific o/i questions. But you may be asked what motion a muscle does and rather than just memorizing that chart in your manual isn’t it better to actually know why the muscle causes that movement? Application -  not memorization.

But there are so many muscles! Yes there are. But, don’t worry about all of them right now. Learn the big ones (macro), those muscles whose names you recognize. Muscles like pectorals, deltoids, biceps, quadriceps etc. Once you’ve got those under control, then go a little deeper/smaller (micro) to muscles like the brachialis and peroneus brevis.

Remember, you don’t have to learn anatomy in one week…take your time! Start big, move small, and focus less on memorization and more on practical application. Use your body!

Questions? Contact an ACE Education Consultant at 1-888-825-3636 x782

By April Merritt
April Merritt holds a bachelor’s degree in Exercise Science, a master’s degree in Health Promotion, and several ACE certifications including Personal Trainer, Group Fitness Instructor and Health Coach.

April Merritt holds a bachelor’s degree in Exercise Science, a master’s degree in Health Promotion, and several ACE certifications including Personal Trainer and Health Coach.