The Muscular System Manual

The Muscular System Manual: The Skeletal Muscles of the Human Body, 4th edition, is meant to be the most thorough atlas of muscle function that is available. Instead of simply listing muscle attachments and actions that are typically taught, The Muscular System Manual comprehensively covers all muscle functions of each muscle. Shortening action functions with their reverse actions are addressed, as well as eccentric and stabilization functions. By offering the student the full picture of muscle function, it actually makes the task of learning the muscles easier, not harder. Students can grasp the information more quickly because they understand it and do not have to memorize it.


This book is primarily written for students and practicing therapists of manual and movement therapies, including massage therapy, physical therapy, chiropractic, osteopathy, orthopedists, athletic training, yoga, Pilates, and Feldenkrais. However, anyone who needs to learn the skeletal muscles of the body will find this book invaluable and essential. Unlike many books, you will not outgrow The Muscular System Manual. It will be your guide as you first learn the muscles of the body, and it will remain an invaluable resource on your bookshelf for as long as you are in practice.


The approach taken by The Muscular System Manual is unique. Instead of simply listing information, it teaches the information and makes it understandable, allowing for true critical thinking. The beginning chapters set the framework for how muscles work as well as give a five-step approach to learning muscles. Each individual muscle then has notes that explain how the actions can be reasoned out instead of memorized. The goal of this book is to enable the student/therapist/trainer/physician to be able to critically think through muscle functioning when working clinically with clients and patients.

Dr. Muscolino: I want to thank you for your outstanding book “The Muscular System Manual”. I participate in ultra masters bodybuilding for men between 60 and 69 years of age. I purchased the third edition of your book. I must say that your book has been a great aid in my weight training. Learning the attachments and the actions of muscles has added new dimensions to my workouts. I can perform the proper muscle movements during an exercise and visualize the muscles being trained.Jerry B.
Sir, I must say that textbooks are absolutely awesome. I have never completed studying a book this fast in my life… they have flow. An absolutely brilliant job. I hope I will be able to mimic this level of flow in my literature also. Brilliant, simply brilliant.
Marian P., Master Fitness Trainer & Educator, Amman, Jordan

The Muscular System Manual is organized into five Parts. Part 1 covers the basic language of kinesiology that the student needs to be able to understand muscle attachments and functions and also communicate with other members of the health care and fitness fields. Parts 2 through 4 systematically cover each of the major muscles of the body, presenting in a clear and organized manner the essential information of every muscle. The beginning of each chapter in these parts opens with large group illustrations of the muscles of the joint region. Each muscle then has an individual layout in which the muscle’s attachments, functions, innervation, arterial supply, palpation, relationship to other structures, and other miscellaneous information that is intellectually and clinically relevant are given. Part 5 presents illustrations of all the major functional joint action mover groups of muscles as well as illustrations of the muscles of the pelvic floor and myofascial meridians of the body.

Dr. Muscolino: Thanks to your incredible teaching resources, I credit you for inspiring me to properly learn the wonders of the body anatomy and function.Darlene H., registered shiatsu therapist


There are many features that distinguish this book:

  • The most thorough coverage of muscle function available.
  • Explanations to understand the muscle’s actions that promote critical thinking.
  • Information presented in a layered à la carte approach that allows each student or instructor to determine what content is covered.
  • Beautiful illustrations in which the bones and muscles are placed on a photograph of a real person.
  • Large group illustrations for every functional group.
  • Myofascial meridian information for every muscle.
  • Bulleted clear and easy to follow palpations for each muscle.
  • A  robust list of online resources, including an interactive digital program that allows for any combination of muscles to be placed on the skeleton and body.


Although most features of previous edition have been preserved, the 4th edition of The Muscular System Manual has many new features:

  • Evidence-based full referencing for all joint actions of the muscles.
  • Expanded coverage of muscle function to address the oblique plane motion patterns of the muscles.
  • A flashcard app that offers a portable resource for studying more than 250 flashcards, which include coverage of muscles, muscle locations, pronunciations, attachments, actions, and innervation information.
  • New illustrations for the muscle attachments and myofascial meridians, as well as for many of the muscles.
  • A concise review of all organ systems of the body.
  • Digital access to video demonstrations of the palpation of all the muscles of the body.
  • An interactive customized digital program that allows stretches of the individual muscles to be printed out for self-care use or for use with patients/clients.


  • The attachment and functions information is presented in a layered à la carte approach that allows the student to decide at what depth to learn the information.
  • This book is meant to be used not only as a textbook, but also as an in-class manual. For this reason, checkboxes are provided for each muscle layout as well as each piece of information. This allows the student to check off exactly what content will be learned. Instructors, having students check off content covered allows for extremely clear expectations of what they are responsible for.
  • Arrows are placed over the muscle for each individual muscle illustration so that the line of pull of the muscle can be seen and visually understood. This allows for the actions of the muscle to be understood instead of memorized.
  • A Miscellaneous section is provided that offers interesting insights to each muscle. Many of these are clinical applications that flesh out and make learning the muscle more interesting.


Dr. Muscolino: I am a huge fan of your work. I’m a yoga teacher in Boston and also currently studying structural integration with Tom Myers. Your Muscular System Manual and Muscle and Bone Palpation Manual have been invaluable in my studies, far more comprehensive, precise and useful than any other references I’ve found for learning regional anatomy. Thank you! A colleague of mine raves about a cadaver lab he did with you; I hope to someday attend a workshop of yours.Ali M., Yoga Instructor


This book is backed up by an Evolve website that includes the following student resources:

  • A base photograph of the region of the body is presented with the skeleton drawn in. A list of every muscle of that region is given and you can choose any combination of muscles and place them onto the illustration, allowing you to not only see that muscle’s attachments, but more importantly, to be able to see the relationship between all the muscles of the region. Any combination of muscles can be chosen!
  • Video demonstrations by the author showing palpation of each and every muscle of the book.
  • An audio feature in which the author reads aloud the names, attachments, and major actions of all the muscles. This allows for studying while commuting or for use with an MP3 device. Ideal for studying and learning while on the go!
  • Interactive review exercises such as Drag ‘ n ’ Drop labelling exercises, and Name That Muscle quizzes for further review of the skeletal muscles of the human body.
  • 200 short-answer review questions to reinforce knowledge learned in the book.
  • Supplemental appendices featuring valuable information on the following topics: soft tissue attachments, palpation guidelines, overview of innervation, overview of arterial supply, additional skeletal muscles, and mnemonics for remembering muscle names.
  • An interactive customized digital program that allows stretches of the individual muscles to be printed out for self-care use or for use with patients/clients.
  • A concise review of all organ systems of the body.


For instructors, the entire book is available in 50-minute PowerPoint lectures, with learning outcomes, discussion topics, and critical thinking questions. There is also an instructor’s manual that provides step-by-step approaches to leading the class through learning the muscles, as well as case studies that allow for a critical thinking application of the muscles to common musculoskeletal conditions. Further, a complete image collection that contains every figure in the book, and a test bank in ExamView containing 1,500 questions, are provided.


The Muscular System Manual is also supported by an excellent coloring book. Look for Musculoskeletal Anatomy Coloring Book, 2nd Ed., published by Elsevier. For more on muscle palpation, look for The Muscle and Bone Palpation Manual, With Trigger Points, Referral Patterns, and Stretching, 2nd Ed. (Elsevier, 2015).


This book is thick and packed with information. You can choose exactly how much you want to learn. If you are a beginner to learning muscles, the outstanding illustrations and the simple and clear explanations will make learning muscles easy. If you are an advanced student of the muscular system, the depth of information will help you reach new levels of knowledge and clinical application. You will not outgrow this book. Whether as an in-class manual or a reference text for your bookshelf, you will find this book to be an ideal and essential book now and into the future!

For use in the classroom/curriculum, The Muscular System Manual includes the following resources:

  1. A complete image bank
  2. A test bank with more than 1,500 questions, divided into multiple categories based on content, level of difficulty, and type of question (multiple choice and fill in the blank)
  3. A detailed Instructor’s Manual
  4. A student website with interactive exercises (labeling and drag and drop exercises, practice questions, and more)
  5. The entire textbook is set up into 50-minute Powerpoint lectures, with lesson plans, learning outcomes, and discussion questions





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