Kinesiology Glossary

Forces | Muscle Movement Classification | Muscle Attachment | Articulation | Contraction | Tension Curve | PlanesDirections | MovementScapulohumeral Rhythm | Newton's Laws






rotate or twist

Muscle Movement Classification



  • A muscle that causes motion.


  • A muscle that can move the joint opposite to the movement produced by the agonist.


  • The primary muscle intended for exercise.


  • A muscle that assists another muscle to accomplish a movement.


  • A muscle that contracts with no significant movement to maintain a posture or fixate a joint.

Dynamic Stabilizer

  • A biarticulate muscle that simultaneously moves through the two joints with little change in length, in effect shortening through the target joint and lengthening through the adjacent joint. Also known as Fixator. Dynamic stabilization occurs during many compound movements. The dynamic stabilizer may assists in joint stabilization by countering the rotator force of an agonist. See example diagram: Hamstring weakness regarding hamstring's role in knee integrity (during squat or leg press)

Antagonist Stabilizer

  • Antagonist Stabilizers also act to maintain postural alignment of joints, including the vertebral column and pelvis. For example, Rectus Abdominis and Obliques counters the Erector Spinae's pull on spine during exercise like the Deadlift or Squat. This counter force prevents hyperextension of the spine, maintaining the tension potential of the Erector Spinae.

Muscle Attachment

Muscle Attachments

Origin (b): muscle attachment that moves least, generally more proximal.

Insertion (a): muscle attachment that moves most, generally more distal.



  • A muscle that crosses one joint


  • A muscle that crosses two joints


  • A muscle that can move three joints


Rope Alternating Wave


  • The contraction of a muscle with movement against a natural resistance. Isotonic actually means 'same tension', which is not the case with a muscle that changes in length and natural biomechanics that produce a dynamic resistance curve. This misnomer has prompted authors to propose alternative terms, such as dynamic tension or dynamic contraction.


  • The contraction of a muscle against concomitant force at a constant speed. Diagnostic strength equipment implement isokinetic tension to more accurately measure strength at varying joint angles.


  • The contraction of a muscle resulting in its shortening.


  • The contraction of a muscle during its lengthening.


  • The contractions of a muscle resulting in movement. Concentric and eccentric contraction are considered dynamic movements.


  • The contraction of a muscle without significant movement, also referred to as static tension. Also see Isometric Training.

Tension Curve

Relative Resistance experienced through an exercise's range of motion

Gravity Dependant

Gravity Dependant exercises typically offers a relative large change of muscular tension throughout the entire range of motion. Muscular tension is greatest when the resistance's line of action is perpendicular to body's lever arm. Gravity dependant exercises may have various resistance curves (described below) including: bell shaped, ascending, and descending. See Gravity Vectors.

Kreighbaum and Barthels (1996) classify pulleys and levers as 'gravity dependant' resistance machines alluding they merely redirect the user's applied force and do not alter the amount of resistance torque within the ROM. Fleck and Kraemer (2004) classify pulleys and levers as 'variable resistance' machines suggesting attempting to match the user's strength curve is only one purpose of variable resistance equipment. It appears equipment manufactures, most notably, Hammer Strength Equipment, position the lever to compliment the user's strength curve. See variable resistance below.

Strive Fitness Adjustable Variable Cam

Variable Resistance

Variable Resistance machines typically offer a relatively continuous muscular tension throughout the entire range of motion. Cams and variable resistance levers typically have a varying tension curve, which attempt to match the user's strength curve by a preset resistance curve.

Nautilus is the most famous for pioneering the variable resistance cam. Strive Fitness Equipment has designed their equipment to permit the adjustment of the cam to varying training stimulus or match the user's specific training goals.

Bell Shaped

A tension curve in which the muscular tension required increases then decreases. Many gravity dependant exercises tend to have a bell shaped resistance curve where muscular tension is greatest in middle of the exercise. Also see Gravity Vectors.

Ascending (Peak) /

A tension curve in which the muscular tension required increases throughout the range of motion until the end of concentric contraction. Also see ROM Criteria.

Descending \

A tension curve in which the muscular tension required decreases throughout the range of motion until the end of concentric contraction.

Resistance Curve

An exercise's characteristic change of force throughout its range of motion. Also see Angle of Pull and Muscle.


Anatomy Manikin

Anatomical Position

Body upright, feet together, arms hanging at sides, palms facing forward, thumbs facing away from body, fingers extended. See Anatomical Position.

Midsagittal Line: aka midline

Anatomical Planes

Sagittal: aka anterior-posterior plane

Transverse: aka xy plane

Coronal: frontal plane

Median: orientated sagitally on limbs

Oblique: diagonal plane

Anatomical Directions

Anterior (ventral): Toward front

Posterior (dorsal): Toward back

Distal: (a) farther away from reference point, or (b) away from vertex of head

Proximal: (a) closer to reference point, or (b) toward vertex of head

Inferior: away from vertex of head

Superior: toward vertex of head

Lateral: away from sagittal midline of body

Medial: toward sagittal midline of body

Cranial: toward head

Coudal: toward tail

Superficial: toward surface

Deep: inward from surface


Anatomy Manikin with spine

Abduction: Lateral movement away from the midline of the body

Adduction: Medial movement toward the midline of the body

Circumduction: circular movement (combining flexion, extension, adduction, and abduction) with no shaft rotation

Extension: Straightening the joint resulting in an increase of angle

Eversion: Moving sole of foot away from medial plane

Flexion: Bending the joint resulting in a decrease of angle

Hyperextension: extending the joint beyond anatomical position

Inversion: Moving sole of foot toward medial plane

Pronation: Internal rotation resulting in appendage facing downward

Protrusion: Moving anteriorly (eg: chin out)

Supination: External rotation resulting in appendage facing upward

Retrusion: Moving posteriorly (eg: chin in)

Rotation: Rotary movement around the longitudinal axis of the bone

Force Origin

Active: Movement or force occurring under segments own force.

Passive: Movement or force occurring under outside force.


Scapulohumeral Rhythm

The motions of the scapula, clavicle, and humerus working together to achieve full elevation of the arm.

Shoulder elevation involves

When the arm is fully elevated by abduction or flexion

  • two-thirds of the motion occurs in the glenohumeral joint
  • other third occurs between the scapula and thorax.

This coordinated movement is called Scapulohumeral rhythm.

  • Initial 30 degrees of abduction/flexion is primarily glenohumeral
  • Remaining elevation
    • glenohumeral and scapulothoracic joints move simultaneously
    • 2:1 ratio of glenohumeral to scapulothoracic movement
      • Scapulae rotates upward one degree for every two degrees of upward arm movement.
      • Except when arm is internally rotated.
        • In which case, greater tubercle of humerus contacts scapulae preventing arm from being raised more than 90 degrees.
        • See example Lateral Raise.

Purposes of Scapulohumeral rhythm

Newton's Laws of Motion

  • Law of inertia
    • A body in motion tends to remain in motion at the same speed in a straight line; a body at rest tends to remain at rest unless acted on by a force.
  • Law of acceleration
    • A change in the acceleration of a body occurs in the same direction as the force that caused it. The change in acceleration is directly proportional to the force causing it and inversely proportional to the mass of the body.
    • Linear Motion
      • a=F/m
    • Angular Motion
      • α =T/I
  • Law of reaction

For every action, there is an opposite and equal reaction

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