Physical Education - Muscles and Movement

These revision cards will help you to revise the 'Muscles and Movement' part of the syllabus (GCSE)

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Muscle Types

The body's involuntary muscles work our internal organs. They are outside our control.

Voluntary muscles make the body move. They are attached to the skeleton and can be controlled.

The heart is known as the cardiac muscle and never tires.

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Voluntary Muscles

Voluntary muscles have fast twtch and slow twitch fibres:


  • contract quickly
  • don't use oxygen well
  • tire quickly


  • contract slowly
  • use oxygen well
  • keep going for a long time

Sprinters have more fast twitch fibres which allows them to run fast over a short distance. Endurance runners have more slow twitch fibres which allows them to run over a long distance without tiring quickly.

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Voluntary Muscles

Voluntary Muscles

Triceps: Extend the arm at the elbow

Biceps: Flex the arm at the elbow

Deltoids: Move the arm in all directions at the shoulder

Pectorals: Adduct the arm at the shoulder

Trapezius: Move head back and sideways, holds the shoulders in place

Gluteals: Adduct and extend leg at the hips

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Voluntary Muscles

Voluntary Muscles

Quadriceps: Extend the leg at the knee

Hamstrings: Flex the leg at the knee 

Gastrocnemius: Help to flex knee, pointing toes

Latissimus dorsi: Adduct and extend the arm at the shoulder

Abdominals: Flex the trun across the stomache 

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Muscles and Movement

Muscles contract when they work, when a muscle contracts to make movement it is called an isotonic contraction.

An isotonic contraction can be concentric or eccentric:


  • muscle shortens as the fibres contract


  • muscle lengthens as the fibres contract 

When a muscle contracts and no movement is made its an isometric contraction.

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Muscle Pairs


Antagonistic pairs of muscles create movement when one muscle contracts and the other relaxes.

Examples of antagonistic muscles are:

  • Hamstrings and quadriceps in the leg
  • Biceps and triceps in the arm

When one muscle contracts the other relaxes and visa versa...

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Muscle tone and posture

Muscle tone can be seen when 'tensed' or when ready for action. Regular training creates both good muscle tone and good posture.

Training will cause muscles to HYPERTROPHY (increase in size) and develop better ENDURANCE.

Muscle tone developed by regular training makes daily tasks much easier. It also helps to prevent injury as good posture reduces the strain on muscles, tendons and ligaments.

Good posture also makes people feel better about themselves, you can often tell someones self-confidence by their posture.

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