How to Master Muscular Anatomy Fast & Avoid the 5 Most Common Anatomy Mistakes
Anatomy = Foundation of Exercise Science

Learning anatomy as a fitness professional is like learning to build a foundation as an architect; it supports everything else!

Everything else is built on top of it!

Personal training is super dynamic and intimate, so I suppose you could make the same claim about personality being foundational; if the client doesn’t want to spend time with you because of your bad attitude or bad communication skills, it really doesn’t matter how much you know!

But that is why we break up personal training sills into categories. Because training is so dynamic, it is helpful to break up the various skill sets into 3 key mega-competencies: interpersonal skills, exercise science, and business acumen.

Anatomy and biomechanics are the very foundation of exercise science, with physiology secondary. (What is physiology anyway, except your anatomies response to forces/mechanics? Feel free to disagree in the comments, I know this isn’t a popular perspective, but I think it is one worth examining.)

It really doesn’t matter how much you know about other areas of exercise science, if you don’t have a strong foundation in biomechanics and anatomy, you will not be able to accurately and safely apply your knowledge.
Types of Anatomy

Within anatomy, there are multiple focuses; neural anatomy, bony anatomy, muscular anatomy. As a trainer, it is VERY important to keep in mind how many other structures there are in the body that affects its performance and health.

Yes, initially we should be focused on muscular anatomy, but as fitness professionals, we have to keep in mind that we tend to be too focused on muscles sometimes. Often, a tight muscle will tighten because of a fascial restriction! Everything is connected to everything through the fascial network. Just keep this in mind when you are problem solving and studying.

As you advance, more time should be spent on learning more advanced anatomy like fascial anatomy, and the anatomy of the tendons, ligaments, and how they attach to bony surfaces.
Practice Makes Perfect

There are a lot of great tools out there to learn anatomy. Use these tools, the first one is free, and practice with other trainers. Make cards, quiz each other, and try to link the specific names to your own exercise routine when you workout.

[Anatomy for fitness] – This website is AWESOME! It is a digital animation of the muscular system. Click and drag a little slider under each joint, and it will build the muscular support system around it from the most deep to the most superficial. Very cool and definitely worth checking out, you can also click to see each muscles action, which is good but very simplified. (Be sure to read “Most Common Anatomy Mistakes” below). And it’s free! Also, you can take a quiz on the site. Every new fitness professional should know about this site and spend time on it, it is great.

Human Anatomy Atlas of Human Anatomy DVD Set -This dvd set is AMAZING! I have watched all but one of the dvds (the 6th one is about the organs). While it is on the pricey side to get all 6 at once, it is a great reference for anyone who wants to take their anatomy to the next level. They basically build a fresh cadaver in front of you, with precise animation to show each origin and insertion. They start with the bony anatomy, and then build the muscles from deep to superficial on top, show the tissues from 360 views. Then they show the vascular and neural anatomy, and have quizzes between each section. You can also start with just one DVD at a time, and watch just 10 minutes a day. It is fascinating! All these intricate structures are the bodies evolutionary reaction to FORCE! DVD 1, 2, and 3 are most important for newer trainers, as they are upper extremity, lower extremity, and trunk/core.

Fitness Anatomy Strength Training Anatomy Book – This is a great book. Detailed, colorful, and just plain fun to look at. The muscles illustrations are very much of a jacked body builder, it is not what you will normally find in a general population client, but it is a cool guide to basic anatomy. There is not as much attention to anatomy of the “passive structures” (bones, ligaments, tendons) and spinal anatomy.

Cadaver Course – One of the best ways to learn is to get your hands dirty! I went to this class and it was AWESOME! We are so used to thinking of these tissues as separate, as they appear in books, but they are all intertwined together! It was eye opening to see the fibers of the rhomboid fan into the fibers of the Serratus! It looked like one muscle! This is a link to the RTS website. They have a cadaver class in Pittsburgh and in Connecticut. If you are in another part of the world, you should be able to find a cadaver class at any university with related courses. The cool thing about the RTS anatomy elective is you can get continuing education credits, and it is a requirement for your Resistance Training Specialist certification. But don’t let it stop you if you are not in CT or Pittsburgh, find a class and get your hands dirty!
Most Common Anatomy Mistakes!

By yanam49

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