NASM 6th Edition chapter 3: The cardiorespiratory system

NASM study guide chapter 3

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Chapter 3 NASM Study Guide

Important definitions

The cardiorespiratory system: Composed of the respiratory and cardiovascular system

The cardiovascular system: Blood vessels, blood, and the heart

Arteries: Carry blood away from the heart to the rest of the body

Veins: Return blood to the heart from the rest of the body

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Stroke volume: The amount of blood pumped out the heart with each contraction

Cardiac output: Heart rate × stroke volume

Sinoatrial (SA) node: The “pacemaker” of the heart because it initiates the heartbeat

Typical heart rate for an adult: 70-80 BPM

The atria and ventricles:

The heart has two pairs of different chambers. These chambers are called the atriums and ventricles. Here are the functions of the chambers.

The right atrium receives blood coming from the body while the left atrium receives the blood (oxygen-rich) that comes from the lungs and the heart.

The right ventricle has thinner walls because it only needs to pump blood a short distance back to the heart and the lungs. The left ventricle, on the other hand, has much thicker walls and is a much higher pressure pump because it is required to push blood to the rest of the body.

The functions of blood:

  1. Protection: The white blood cells help to protect your body against diseases and blood clotting helps with fluid loss.
  2. Regulation: Blood helps keep a stable body temperature, electrolyte, and water level as well as pH.
  3. Transportation: The primary function of blood is to transport nutrients and oxygen to the cells of the body. It also takes away CO2 and various wastes from the cells and delivers hormones to specific tissues.

The respiratory pump:

These are the thoracic and abdominal structures that help with the contraction and expansion of the lungs.

The muscles that comprise the respiratory pump are:

  • For inhalation: The Scalene muscles, the pack minor, sternocleidomastoid, and the diaphragm.
  • For exhalation: The internal intercostals and the abdominal muscles

Here is the cycle of the respiratory pump (venous return):


  1. The thoracic cavity expands new
  2. The pressure within the pleural cavities drop
  3. This pulls air to the lungs
  4. It also brings blood into the IVC and the right atrium from the smaller veins that exist in the abdominal cavity


  1. The pressure in the pleural cavities rise
  2. This forces blood into the right atrium
  3. This is important especially for heavy exercises

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NASM practice quiz for chapter 3

Quiz Answer Key

Q1:  The typical heart rate for an adult is between:
A1:   70-80 beats per minute

Q2:  Vessels that transport blood away from the heart are known as
A2:  Arteries

Q3:  What is the role of veins as they relate to blood flow?
A3:  Veins carry blood toward the heart

Q4:  What are smaller chambers located superiorly on either side of the heart that gather blood returning to the heart much like a reservoir?
A4:   Atria

Q5:  Cardiac output is comprised of what two factors?
A5:  Heart rate × stroke volume

Q6: The amount of blood pumped out the heart with each contraction if referred to as
A6: Stroke volume

Q7:  Which of the following structures is termed the pacemaker for the heart because it initiates the heartbeat?
A7:  Sinoatrial (SA) node

Q8:  Which section of the heart gathers oxygenated rich blood coming from the lungs?
A8:  Left atrium

NASM flashcards for chapter 3

4 thoughts on “NASM 6th Edition chapter 3: The cardiorespiratory system”

  1. These study guides do not cover a lot of the information needed to ACE the practice tests. Some terms/definitions are missing.

    1. Hey Josh,
      The study guide does not include every single term or definition from the NASM on exercise textbook. If it did, it would be a lot larger. These are general guidelines and things to focus on but it definitely does not cover everything. If you want a more in-depth Study guide or study system, I suggest checking out Trainer Academy.

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