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Tuesday, June 6, 2023

How Do I Memorize Kinesiology?

Brent Brookbush

Brent Brookbush


How Do I Memorize Kinesiology?

By Brent Brookbush MS, PES, CES, CSCS, ACSM H/FS

Fatimah Rada: How do you memorize all of the agonist, antagonist, synergists, neutralizers, and stabilizers for each joint?

That is a great question Fatimah, and no easy task…

But understanding human movement science is the foundation for our profession and worth the effort required for proficiency. We can use a popular teaching and learning tool to help us develop a strategy for learning this information. Many of my fellow educators out there will be familiar with “Bloom’s Taxonomy.” Bloom's taxonomy places various cognitive skills and types of knowledge in a continuum. Within this continuum, knowledge is categorized as factual, conceptual, procedural, and metacognitive. Cognitive processes progress from remember to understand, apply, analyze, evaluate, and create. “Memorizing” a method of analyzing movement, implies a need for factual and conceptual knowledge, and low level cognitive processes - remember and understand. However, our profession imposes a need for procedural and metacognitive knowledge when we teach individuals to perform an exercise. Creating activities that use higher level cognitive processes will improve retention of the information. Below you will find a sample strategy for remembering your kinesiology:

Remembering Factual Knowledge

Make a list of the knowledge you need

For example:

  • Muscular Anatomy (Origin, insertion, action, neural innervations)
  • Skeletal Anatomy (Bones, joints, joint types, movement allowed at each joint
  • Basic Neural Anatomy (Basic understanding of CNS and PNS, and neuromuscular innervations)
  • Definitions of basic kinesiology terms
  • Definitions of “Human Movement Science (HMS)” terms

Make a list of sources that you can use to acquire accurate information.

For example:

  • Hollinshead’s Functional Anatomy of the Limbs and Back by David B. Jenkins
  • Joint Structureand Function by Cynthia Norkin and Pamela Levangia
  • Kinesiology of the Musculoskeletal System by Donald Neumann
  • Kinesiology articles on Brookbush Institute

Some tools that are helpful in remembering include creating mnemonic devices, repetition, listing the information you can recall, making flash cards, and creating test questions to quiz yourself.

Understanding Conceptual Knowledge:

Many of the terms used in the analysis of human movement are concepts unto


  • Agonists
  • Prime Mover
  • Synergists
  • Antagonists
  • Neutralizers
  • Stabilizers

Some helpful tools for improving your understanding of these concepts include rewriting the definitions of HMS terms in your own words, comparing concepts, providing examples for each concept, and creating graphs using the concepts.

For example, list all of the internal rotators of the shoulder; these would be the agonists. Label the muscle that you believe is the prime mover and note that all other internal rotators are synergists. Then list all of the external rotators and note that they are the antagonists of internal rotation. Try to do this by memory initially; use references only as needed. Repeat this for each major joint action of the hip, knee, ankle, shoulder, scapula, and trunk.

Application and Procedural Knowledge

Consider how the graphs, charts, and concepts you have learned apply to the exercises and assessments you use in your practice. For example, consider which muscles would be tight/short in an individual who has internal rotation of the shoulder joint during static posture. What effect would that have on antagonists? Do those muscles play a role in any of the exercises you commonly perform in the gym? What could you do to correct what you see? Perform the same movement pattern yourself and envision those muscles working. Each time you see a discrepancy in form make an effort to recognize the excessive joint motion and the effect on the muscles around that joint. How would that effect the graphs you made above?

Evaluation and Metacognition

Consider how you were taught this information and the advantages and disadvantages of this method. What areas did you find especially difficult –could you simplify them? How would you change your strategy if you were to learn the information again? Take a moment to write out this strategy and then teach this information to someone else. You could recite the information back to a professor, write an article and post it using social media, teach the information to a peer, or attempt to simplify and explain the information to a client.

Although this may seem like a long-winded way of memorizing information, your retention of the information will be far better. Consider the advantage of

learning the information the first time and not having to “restudy” the material. Consider how a better understanding of the information would affect your practice, and how that may affect your business.

© 2011 Brent Brookbush

Questions, comments, and criticisms are welcomed and encouraged -

Lorin W. Anderson, David R. Krathwohl. A Taxonomy for Learning, Teaching, and Assessing: A Revision of Bloom’s Taxonomy of Education Objectives. © 2001 by Addison Wesley Longman, Inc.