NASM 6th Edition Chapter 2: The basics of exercise science
NASM study guide chapter 2

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Chapter 2 NASM study guide

Definitions that you need to memorize

  • Human movement: The kinetic chain (human movement system) comprises three primary systems. The skeletal system (bones and joints), the muscular system (ligaments, tendons, muscles, and fascia), and the nervous system (peripheral and central nerves).

The nervous system

  • Nervous system: One of the primary organ systems in the body. It is a combination of billions of cells that communicate with one another in a network within the body. The central nervous system (CNS) comprises the spinal cord and brain. The peripheral nervous system (PNS) consists of nerves that connect the spinal cord and brain to the rest of the human body.
  • Sensory function: The ability of the nervous system to notice changes in its external or internal environment. This is one of the three main functions of the nervous system.
  • Integrative function: The nervous system’s ability to interpret and analyze sensory information. This allows for adequate decision-making and producing the correct response.
  • Motor function: is the neuromuscular (Muscular and nervous system) response to sensory information. For example, your body responds by muscular contraction when you touch burning hot metal.
  • Proprioception: This is the cumulative sensory input to the CNS (Central nervous system) from all of the various mechanoreceptors that can sense limb movement and body position. Proprioception training improves coordination, posture, and balance.
  • Neuron: This is the functional unit of the nervous system. The nervous system is made up of billions of neurons. This allows it to communicate outside with the environment and internally with itself. Neurons transmit impulses through chemical and electrical signals. Neurons form the core of the spinal cord, brain, and peripheral ganglia that make up the nervous system. A neuron has three main parts: Cell body, axon, and dendrites.
  • Sensory neurons (afferent): This type of nerve cell conducts impulses to the central nervous system from a sense organ.
  • Interneurons: Interneurons send nerves in pulses between one another.
  • Motor neurons (efferent): This type of nerve cell sends impulses to glands, muscles, and other effectors. Stimulates muscle contraction to initiate movement.
  • Central nervous system and Peripheral nervous system: The CNS or central nervous system comprises your brain and spinal cord. The PNS, or peripheral nervous system, branches out from your central nervous system to connect it with the rest of your body.
  • Mechanoreceptors: Specialized receptors that respond to the pressure inside of tissues and transmit signals through sensory nerves. These respond to forces such as motion, sound waves, pressure, stretching, and touch. It can sense the various distortions in the human body.
  • Muscle spindles: These are sensory receptors that sit parallel to muscular fibers. These special spindles can detect the length of a muscle and how fast it changes length. This helps to regulate the contraction of muscles by way of the stretch reflex mechanism. Its purpose is to help prevent and protect from stretching that could lead to muscular damage.
  • Golgi tendon organs: Golgi tendon organs or GTO is another type of specialized sensory receptor. They are found where tendons are attached to skeletal, muscular fibers. These receptors can sense the change in muscular tension and the rate that this tension changes. When you activate the Golgi tendon organ, it will cause a muscle to relax. This is to help prevent injury from excess stress and contraction.
  • Joint receptors: These receptors are located around the joint capsule. They respond to acceleration, deceleration, and pressure at the joint. They can sense extreme joint positions and send signals to prevent injuries.

The skeletal system

  • Skeletal system: This is the body’s framework that is comprised of joints and bones. It provides the focus and shapes for bodies. It also creates blood for the human body and stores minerals. Activity, nutrition, and posture can affect the skeletal system’s functionality, growth, and maturation.
  • Bones: Provide protection for vital organs and a resting place for muscles.
  • Joints are the junctions for muscles, bones, and connective tissues where movement occurs. It is also known as articulation.
  • Axial skeleton: The area of the skeletal system that contains the rib cage, skull, and vertebral column. It consists of 80 bones.
  • Appendicular skeleton: This area of the skeletal system consists of the lower and upper extremities. It’s basically the legs, arms, and appendages in appendicular. This contains 126 bones.
  • Remodeling: This is the process of formation and resorption of bone. It is the process where the older bone is broken down and taken away by osteoclasts and new bone is made to replace it with cells called osteoblasts.
  • Osteoclasts: The cells that help remove bone tissue.
  • Osteoblasts: The cells that help create new bone tissue.
  • Epiphysis: located at the end of long bones and a place that contains a large portion of red marrow involved in the production of red blood cells. This is one of the main locations for bone growth.
  • Diaphysis: This is the long portion of the bone that is considered the shaft. It is much more compact and strong.
  • Epiphyseal plate: This is the area of the long bone that connects the epiphysis to the diaphysis. This is a dividing layer of cartilage in cells that grow lengthwise to create the diaphysis.
  • Periosteum: This is the dense and fibrous outer layer where muscles attach and a more delicate layer inside that can create bone.
  • Medullary Cavity: This is where bone marrow is stored and blood cell formation happens. It is a small cavity that is located in the shaft of the bone.
  • Articular Cartilage (Hyaline): This is the inelastic, flexible, yet firm type of connective tissue that is located at the end of bones at the joint.
  • Depressions: These are flat areas of a bone.
  • Processes: This is a part of the bone where ligaments in muscle attach.
  • Vertebral column: Made up of 24 bones that create the spinal column. There are 5 lumbar, 12 thoracic, and 7 cervical.
  • Arthrokinematics: This describes joint surfaces when bones are put through a range of motion.
  • Synovial joints: These are joined bones that have a fibrous joint capsule. These joints produce synovial fluid that looks like egg whites to protect the joints. Approximately eighty percent of joints in the human body are synovial joints.
  • Non-synovial joints: These are joints that are non-movable and exclude the joint cartilage, capsule, and ligaments. Mostly found in the distal joint of the fibula and tibia as well as the skull.
  • Ligaments: This is what connects bones to other bones and helps joint support.

The muscular system

  • Muscular system: The full collection of all of the muscles in the human body.
  • Epimysium: This is the layer of muscular connective tissue on the outside.
  • Perimysium: This is the muscular connective tissue in the middle that encompasses the muscle fascicle.
  • Endomysium: The deepest layer of the muscular connective tissue that covers muscle fibers.
  • Tendons: Connect skeletal muscles to the bone with a band of white, inelastic, dense, and tough band of tissue.
  • Sarcomere: This is the functional unit of a muscle that produces contractions. It is comprised of actin and myosin. This is the repeating section of a muscle.
  • Neural Activation: This is the process of the nervous system activation of a muscle fiber through the neuromuscular junction.
  • Motor unit: The motor neuron and all of the muscle fiber it innervates.
  • Neurotransmitters: These are small chemical messengers that can cross the neuromuscular synapse (junction) to transmit these electrical impulses from the nerve to the muscle.

Muscle fiber types

  • Type I (slow twitch): These are also known as endurance fibers. They are smaller, produce less power, receive more oxygen, and are more mitochondrial dense.
  • Type II (fast twitch): These do not have as much endurance, have less oxygen delivery, have short-term contractions, can produce more force and power, and are larger than type I fibers.
  • Type IIx: These have a low oxidative capacity and or are quick to fatigue.
  • Type IIa: These have a higher oxidative capacity and will fatigue slower than type IIx. Another name for these is intermediate fast twitch muscle fibers.

Excitation-contraction coupling

This is the process where the nervous system stimulates a muscle in the body to contract. Another name for it is the sliding filament theory. The steps that are seen in the NASM textbook provide 10 different steps from the initiation until the end of the contraction. Here are five steps so that you can more easily memorize the process.

  1. Ach is released and binds with receptors that start an action potential down the T Tubula.
  2. This action potential initiates a calcium release (Ca2+).
  3. The calcium then binds with troponin, which stops the blocking action of tribal myosin, exposing the active binding site for actin.
  4. The next thing that occurs is contraction by the myosin cross bridges that alternately detach and attach to actin. This brings the filaments closer to the middle of the sarcomere. For actin and myosin to detach every quire ATP.
  5. The last step is that Tropomyosin returns to its location and covers the active actin site. At this point, no more contractions happen.

Muscles as movers

There are 4 primary functions that muscles are categorized into. These are stabilizers, synergists, and agonists.

  • Agonist: This is the prime mover
  • Synergist: This assists and helps the prime mover
  • Stabilizer muscles: These help with stabilizing the joints and the body during movement
  • Antagonist: These muscles relax to permit the prime mover to do its work.

If you want additional study materials, check out the team over at Trainer Academy. They have incredible study materials for NASM And I have a special limited-time discount for my readers. I also suggest you check out my review on Trainer Academy here.

NASM 6th Edition Chapter 2: The basics of exercise science 1
NASM 6th Edition Chapter 2: The basics of exercise science 2
NASM 6th Edition Chapter 2: The basics of exercise science 3

NASM flashcards for chapter 2

NASM 6th Edition Chapter 2: The basics of exercise science 3

Tyler Read

Tyler Read, BSc, CPT. Tyler holds a B.S. in Kinesiology from Sonoma State University and is a certified personal trainer (CPT) with NASM (National Academy of sports medicine), and has over 15 years of experience working as a personal trainer. He is a published author of running start, and a frequent contributing author on Healthline and Eat this, not that.

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19 thoughts on “NASM 6th Edition Chapter 2: The basics of exercise science”

  1. PTPioneer User

    Hi Tyler, you have a great system set up here for all 20 chapters or so…but my problem is that what good is it to test someone with that quiz thing above if it doesn’t even tell you what you got wrong?

    1. Tyler Read - Certified Personal Trainer with PTPioneer

      Hey Ben,
      I actually just finished today making in answer key sheet for the NASM practice test on the homepage. I will try to get to the rest of the chapters as well!

      1. PTPioneer User

        Thanks, Tyler.
        Hope to see those answer key sheets implemented soon. It would really help a lot with studying for the exam.

        1. Tyler Read - Certified Personal Trainer with PTPioneer

          Hey Andreea,
          You are right and I have been really trying to get around to it but I’ve just been swamped with other work recently. I will try to get to it in the weeks to come and thanks for reminding me on this again!

  2. PTPioneer User
    Nicole D. Woodard

    Hi Tyler, I have already purchased the NASM guided study course from NASM, will your study guide help me better understand the material?

    1. Tyler Read - Certified Personal Trainer with PTPioneer

      Hey Nicole,
      My materials definitely cannot hurt. They are a great supplemental study tool for any study guide you have for the National Academy of sports medicine. Good luck with all the studying!

  3. PTPioneer User

    Hi Tyler! Do I really need to memorize every single one of these definitions for the test? are all of these going to be on there ?

    1. Tyler Read - Certified Personal Trainer with PTPioneer

      Hey Bianca,
      Every single test from the National Academy of sports medicine is different. If you combined all of the different versions of the exam you would find that all of them show up at some point or another, just depends on which test you get. I suggest you memorize all of them definitely.

    1. Tyler Read - Certified Personal Trainer with PTPioneer

      My study guides are not 100% complete and I’m still working on them. That being said, if you want a full and complete study guide I recommend checking out the study materials from trainer Academy as they really help show you exactly what you should expect on the exam. I hope this helps.

    1. Tyler Read - Certified Personal Trainer with PTPioneer

      Hey Timothy,
      The exam for the National Academy of sports medicine is 120 questions and you have 2 hours in order to completely full exam. Good luck with your personal training career.

    1. Tyler Read - Certified Personal Trainer with PTPioneer

      That’s a great question. I think you just need to keep on attempting over and over again until you get the highest score for the personal training questions.

      1. PTPioneer User

        Nope, my time is faster then others on the board. If I couldn’t figure that out there is no way I could pass the NASM test😉

    1. Tyler Read - Certified Personal Trainer with PTPioneer

      Hey Katie, depending on your level of experience in exercise science, you may or may not need to. I definitely think it is most beneficial to read through the textbook on your own at least once, and then use outside study materials to focus on the most important topics. If you only study the most important topics, you will miss how some of these things connect.

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