Major Muscle Groups of the Human Body

This lesson introduces the major skeletal muscle groups of the human body. It includes illustrations, examples, and descriptions for each major group. A brief quiz and summation of key points are also included.
Movements of Muscles in the Body
Right now, as you read these words, your body is using muscles. Those muscles are helping your eyes scan across the page, they’re helping to hold you upright, and, when you get hungry, they’ll help you walk to the refrigerator to get something to eat. These muscles are called skeletal muscles, and they are the major muscles used by the human body for the purpose of locomotion.
Before we begin our investigation, let’s first acknowledge that there are hundreds of muscles contained in the human body. Our investigation focuses on the 13 major (or big) muscle groups used for movement.
Upper Body Muscle Groups
The first of these groups is collectively known as the abdominal muscles. Abdominal muscles, or abs, are found overtop your stomach. You’ll notice that these muscles form the midsection of the body’s front side. Their primary purpose is for sitting up and supporting your posture.
To either side of your abdominal muscles are your obliques. The oblique muscles are used for twisting and turning your torso. Behind them are your erector spinae, or lower back muscles. These muscles assist with posture and lifting items. Together, the erector spinae, obliques, and abdominal muscles form your body’s core or midsection.
Above your abdominal muscles, you’ll find the muscles of your chest. These are known as pectoral muscles. Pectoral muscles are used for movements such as pushups, pushing open a door, or other similar motions. On either side of your pectoral muscles reside the deltoids, or shoulder muscles. These muscles are responsible for overhead lifting and rotating your arms. The deltoids form a sort of cap over your shoulder and encompass the front, side, and back of the shoulder. In back, the deltoids yield to the trapezius. The trapezius muscles are the large muscles in the upper- and mid-back. They help you move your head and aid the upper back when lifting heavy objects.
Directly below the trapezius muscles are your latissimus dorsi, or lats. These muscles form the side of your back and are responsible for posture and pulling motions, such as opening a door or rowing a boat. Collectively your deltoids, trapezius, lats, and erector spinae represent the major muscle groups of your back, just as the abdominal, deltoid, and pectoral muscles represent the major muscle groups of your front.
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