It’s an unavoidable reality that you’ll need to learn how to study anatomy of the human body and physiology if you want to be a fitness professional or learn more about exercise science. Even for medical students in medical school, studying anatomy can be one of the more challenging subjects to study as a student. Learning and knowing the anatomy of the human body is a necessity. This ranges from designing the perfect program for a client to answering a question about the body system or, “what muscle does this exercise work.”

Building a knowledge base of anatomy and continually learning more as you grow and expand your experience can help you build a thriving career. It can also help you shift into new fields of exercise science if you choose to. 

On a deeper level, it is important to understand not only the muscles but also the movements they perform. This is all easier said than done when there are more than 600 muscles and 206 bones in the body. 

However, adjusting your study habits for anatomy does not have to be overwhelming if you view it as a marathon, not a sprint. Just like you don’t want clients to hope for big results after two training sessions, you also don’t want to assume you will memorize and know everything you need to know for anatomy in a short period of study time. It will take some time and effort to structure. 

When you get a degree in exercise science from Lionel University, you’ve got an entire team invested in the success of your academic studies and professional future.  Therefore, we’re here to help! Regardless of what degree program you’re in (associate's degree, bachelor’s degree, or master’s degree), these tips on studying anatomy and physiology apply and are one of the many resources we’ll give you to help make you successful. 

Use the following tips to get all the information you need without overwhelming yourself in the process. 

Plan It Out

Creating a schedule is the first must-do when learning how to study anatomy of the human body. This adds structure, makes it feel manageable, and helps you understand what time you’ll need to dedicate each week or month. 

Start by deciding how often you will study—what’s realistic for your current schedule? Keep a schedule and hold yourself accountable, just like you would with your clients. Break down what you need to study into groups and determine how much time you will spend on those areas. 

For example, you may want to spend a week on the muscles in the arm then move onto another body part to the next muscle group. You need to have a long-term mentality. You’re studying to be able to use them in your career so retention is key. If you’re taking an anatomy course, you may need to follow the class’s schedule, so create your own study schedule around that. An example can be Wednesdays are for reading and Fridays are for flashcards. 

Read more on Time Management For College Students. 

Find Supportive Learning Tools

Human anatomy is a very visual subject, so it can be valuable to find other learning tools that will allow you to expand on the text and better understand what you’re reading vs. studying at your health sciences library. For example, many study guide apps bring the human body to life, making it easier to see how the body works. 

Here are a few apps to consider:

Use Retention-Supporting Study Techniques

When using your resources, just looking at the muscle isn’t enough. It’s helpful to use a variety of techniques to ensure you’re truly retaining what you’re learning. Learn how to study human anatomy most effectively with these simple study tips.

  • Repeat it and reproduce it with your own body. Do the movement yourself and repeat it to yourself as you do—don’t just read flashcards or the pages of your textbook. 
  • Label the muscle over and over. Be sure you’re spelling it correctly, so you save it into your memory correctly. 
  • Study each body part from different angles and planes. It’s helpful to print a picture and place it into a paper protector or dry erase pocket, and label the muscle with a dry erase marker. This way, you can erase it and use it over and over again.
  • Draw the visuals. Even if your drawing skills aren’t great, it’s helpful to draw or trace the muscle in the location on the body rather than just looking at a picture of it. One helpful resource for this is The Anatomy Coloring Book or one similar. Coloring and labeling the muscles in the anatomy coloring book helps you better visualize and remember what you’re studying. It is also less mind-numbing than just staring and memorizing a picture of a muscle.  
  • If you’re studying a chart, for example, an origin and insertion chart, reproduce it from your own memory more than once. You can also use flashcards with the picture of the muscle and practice that with repetition.
  • Incorporating the auditory domain of learning is important even when you’re studying pictures of muscles, for example. Say the muscles out loud as you’re pointing them out or writing them down. You can also find songs that can help make studying anatomy and physiology easier. Check out this extensive list of anatomy and physiology songs that will make the details stick in your mind with catchy lyrics. 

Test Yourself Regularly

Test yourself regularly without using any resources or answer keys. When studying, you might feel like you have a grasp on the content, but when you test yourself without any resources, it can be much harder to organize all your knowledge into answers. If you’re a student at medical school taking a course, your teacher may have access to a practice anatomy exam for you to use. 

Conversely, you can find your own tests online, but be sure the source is legitimate. For example, look for associations that offer practice tests, like this one for medical students from the American Association of Medical Assistants.

You can also test yourself by printing pictures and labeling the muscles, insertion points, etc., without the help of an answer key. 

Also, taking quizzes isn’t just about testing yourself. It’s also about practice. Think about getting a client who is trying to master a complex exercise like a Turkish Getup. Repetition will help make the connections. Read more on how to take quizzes that promote long-term memory retention. 

Get Hands-On

One of the most important tips for how to study anatomy is simple: get hands-on. Labeling a body on paper is helpful, but when you start to work with clients, you will need to be able to know the muscles on a human body. Use yourself or a friend to locate the different muscles and watch how they move. 

The best part of anatomy is that you are able to use your body and your movements to study for it. Label the muscles, insertion points, joints, and body parts as you workout or watch someone running by you on the street. There’s always an opportunity as a student to put your knowledge to the test when studying anatomy. 

How to Study Anatomy: Take Your Time and Practice, Practice, Practice

If you don’t know how to study anatomy, the best tip is to take your time and make practice a priority. Learning body structure and human anatomy does not need to be difficult. Label the muscles, use apps, move your body, and say terms out loud. Use all your senses and resources to truly understand—and retain—your anatomy knowledge to build a thriving exercise science career.

Studying anatomy and physiology is just one of the many study tips and resources for college students that Lionel University offers to aspiring fitness and nutrition professionals. 

Don’t forget, Lionel University wants you to be a successful college student and future fitness professional. So, we’re here to help before, during, and after your academic experience. Contact us today for more information!