CPT Fitness NASM CPT Podcast

The NASM-CPT Podcast: Bones!

National Academy of Sports Medicine
National Academy of Sports Medicine
| Stay Updated with NASM!

This episode is a review of the skeletal systems. Anatomy only! No ROM or joint actions. Today Rick talks about the bones themselves, names, locations, and mnemonics to help remember and recall their names. This is a high-level overview, so we will just focus on the main bones in the appendicular and axial skeleton. 

Tune in to this episode to help solidify an overview of the skeletal anatomy OR use it for ideas to help teach bony anatomy to your students or clients.

Get 20% off your order now by calling 800-460-6276 or visiting NASM.org, and using the code Podcast 20. 



What You'll Learn:

  • Breakfast, lunch, and dinner helps with knowing the number of vertebrae in each section of the spine
  • Small lies help with knowing which bone in the lower leg is which
  • Some bone names will help with learning names of certain muscles



Welcome to the NASM-CPT podcast. My name is Rick Richey, and today we are gonna be talking about them bones, them bones, and if you feel comfortable with the skeletal system, this may not be a podcast for you, but if you would like to learn a little bit more, maybe we can help to increase understanding or at least also get some repetitions in on knowing what these bones are called. And maybe we can support you a little bit in learning some of the anatomy of the skeletal system.

The Skeletal System

So let's talk about the skeletal system. First of all, the skeletal system is important because really it's what the muscles attach to, and the muscles attach to the bones in order for us to create movement. Not only does it create movement, it helps to protect vital organs, and it also is a storage system.

So it can store minerals inside the bone, and they help to produce blood inside that marrow you may have heard of. So all of those things are vitally important, but we're gonna talk about this in terms of human movement science, and what the bones do. And they help to produce these joint actions, and these joint actions move through ranges of motion. And I'm not gonna spend time talking about joint action and range of motion today.

Today is specifically about bones. And we're gonna look at the skeletal system and discuss that. So there's an axial skeletal system and appendicular skeletal system. The axial skeletal system. It's made up the skull, rib cage, and the vertebral column. It's got about 80 bones up in there, and the appendicular skeleton is made up of the upper and lower extremities, that's the shoulder girdle, the pelvic girdle, and the arms that come off of those and the legs that come off those. So basically you unplug the shoulder girdle and the pelvic girdle and you are left with the axial skeleton, that center.

So you got about 206 bones in the skeletal system, and you got about 177 that are involved in voluntary movement. Now that's important for us, because we're dealing with voluntary movement. We're getting people to move and to exercise.

The Axial Skeleton

So let's start talking about what some of these bones are, and let's look initially at the axial skeleton. So in the axial skeleton, we're looking at what's going on with the head, alright, so we put the head on there. And the head bone is the skull. You may have also heard the term cranium, right? Alas, poor Yorick, I knew him well.

So we've got the skull. Now there are numerous bones that make up that, and we're not gonna get into. We're gonna keep it really high-level right now, and looking kind of from this 30,000-foot view, looking down on the skeletal system. So we're not gonna get into all the bones that make up the skull. And they're fused, we're not gonna talk about the different types of joints there are, the different types of bones there are.

But we are gonna talk about the skull, and I think you guys are familiar with the skull, and we move down into our spinal column. And our spinal column is composed of the cervical vertebrae, those are the vertebrae of the neck, the thoracic spine, or the thoracic vertebrae, and that is the muscle where most of the ribs attach to, and then you move down into the lumbar vertebrae, and that's the lower back. And then keep going down into the sacrum, and hanging off the sacrum, a very small bone called the coccyx.

Now, cervical vertebrae, there are seven of them. There are 12 thoracic vertebrae, and there are five lumbar vertebrae. 7, 12, and 5. So from top to bottom, cervical, thoracic, lumbar, 7, 12, and 5. Oftentimes I remember that by breakfast, lunch and dinner.

So you have breakfast at seven o'clock, you have lunch at 12 noon, and let's say we're going in pretty early for dinner, but we're gonna have dinner at five o'clock. So 7, 12, and 5, and that's a good way to help remember what the cervical spine, how many vertebrae are in each one of them, how many vertebrae in the thoracic, and how many are in the lumbar spine.

Now, when we look at the sacrum, it's got actually about five fused vertebrae, and the coccyx is made up of several fused bones as well that hangs off the bottom of the coccyx, which you probably heard of as your tailbone, and it has this curve to it as well.

And so each of these vertebrae, like sections, have curves. The cervical and the lumbar have what's called a lordosis, which is an anterior-facing curve, and the thoracic spine and the sacrum, the coccyx, all of have a kyphosis, which is a posterior-facing curve. If you've ever heard the term scoliosis, a scoliosis is an irregular lateral curve of the spine.

So each of these curves in the spine end with this term -osis, and so scoliosis will get that kind of same suffix to go at the end of it.

Now let's go on and look at some additional parts of what we're gonna be looking at. We're gonna look at moving our way down. If you take your hands, you put them on your collar bone, so just on the front of your body, the collar bone, that's called the clavicle.

And if you move around laterally and you get to your shoulder, and keep going back behind it, you have your scapula. And the scapula is that bone on the back, and we often refer to it as the shoulder blade. So we've got the shoulder blade and the clavicle, or that collar bone, and they connect to each other, and a lot of people don't know that, and where they connect, that joint can become separated pretty easily. It's one of the most commonly separated shoulders.

So if you ever heard the term that somebody had separated their shoulder, it's not actually their arm joint, like so not their glenohumeral joint, but it's actually that acromioclavicular joint, so where the scapula and the clavicle meet. And so that creates the shoulder girdle. And then the arm connects into that.

And so that upper arm bone where your biceps are, and when you show your muscle, that upper arm bone is called the humerus. So that's your humerus. We think there may have been some connection there with the funny bone. And if you've ever hit your funny bone, it's not too funny, but perhaps the bone humerus had gotten, etymologically speaking, its name from the funny bone.

And then let's keep moving down into the forearm. Now interestingly enough, we look at everything from the shoulder down as the arm. Technically speaking, the upper arm is the arm, and from the elbow to the wrist is the forearm, and there are two bones in there. You may know what those are. You may know those bones. One is the radius, and the other is the ulna. Ah, it is, but which one is which? Which one is the radius and which one is the ulna?

So if you take your hand like you're going to be in a karate class. You're gonna chop a board with the pinkie side of your hand, so pinkie side lines up with the ulna. So if you're looking at your hand, there's pinkie, ulna, pinkie, ulna, P-U, P-U. Pinkie, ulna, pinkie, ulna, P-U, P-U. And by the way, when I do P-U, I do my hands like something smells bad. And that just is a way, not necessarily to provide humor, it's more a way to truly come up with an idea that helps to remember which side is the ulna, and that is on the pinkie side.

Now, the thumb side is the radius. Man, and this made a whole lot more sense back in the 90s, when somebody might throw a thumbs up and go, "Rad, dude." So the radius is the thumbs up side, that is the rad side. So the radius is on the thumb side. And there's the radius and the ulna.

Now, you keep moving down into the wrist. There are very, very small bones in the wrist. And those bones are known as carpals, small bones. And then there are the bones of the hand. They get longer, and those bones in the hand are called metacarpals. And the fingers are known as phalanges. So they're the carpals, metacarpals, and phalanges. And that has now taken us from our shoulder girdle all the way down to the tips of our finger.

So we're now gonna go into the pelvic girdle. So let's add the pelvic girdle, that piece of the appendicular skeleton, onto the axial skeleton. Now, that particular set of bones that directly attaches to it, the pelvis. The pelvis is made up of three bones. Now, the pelvis is not the hip. The pelvis is the pelvis. And the hip is actually where the femur, is the femur, so that's the leg bone. So the pelvis is made up of the ilium, the ischium, and the pubis. The pubis is probably the easiest one to explain, because you can figure that one out.

So pubis is the bone on the front of the pelvis and at the bottom of the pelvis. Usually where we would think, oh, that's where are our private parts are. Well, that's where the pubic bone is. The ilium is going to be those larger kind of Mickey Mouse ear shaped parts of the pelvis at the top. So when you think about where your waist is, that space between your ribs and your pelvis, then that space, the top most part, the superior part of the pelvis is gonna be the ilium.

Now, the ischium are the parts that you sit on. When you think of this, you've probably heard the term sits bones. These are your sits bones, and you happen to sit on those. So the ones that you would sit on are the ischium.

So there's the ilium, top bones, Mickey Mouse ears, the ischium, the ones that you probably are sitting on, and the pubis, which is where the pubic area of the body is.

Now, the femur, which is the longest bone in the body, it connects into the pelvis, and it's kinda got an interesting shape, which creates the hips. So that is, there's the kind of a neck and it's got a bend to it, so it doesn't plug straight up into the pelvis, it kind of comes in at an angle and then drops down. And so this long bone that connects into this pelvic girdle goes all the way down to the knee.

And then at the top of the knee you've got what we refer to commonly as a kneecap. That's called a patella. So anatomically speaking, we'll refer to that as the patella. And so the patella's a very small bone. It's a sesamoid bone. I mean, it's a big bone for a sesamoid bone. But a sesamoid bone is a bone that grows within a tendon.

So your quadriceps tendon actually goes over the top of that bone. And if you feel your kneecap right now, your patella, it feels like there's, literally feels like there's skin and then there's bone. But that's not true. The entirety of the quads go over the top of that through a very small but incredibly strong tendon. And then it ends up connecting into your, well, let's stop there.

There are two bones in the lower leg. There's a tibia and a fibula. Which one is which? Most people know the tibia, and they've heard of it at least, tibia and fibula. Which one is which? The tibia is the shin bone. That's the one, if you're doing martial arts you might kick with. Definitely don't want to be kicking with the fibula. That's a small bone on the lateral side of the leg, and if you've ever heard somebody tell a small lie, that is a fib.

So the small bone on the lateral side in the lower leg next to your tibia, that is called the fibula. It's the small bone like a small lie. And so those two bones, they create this kind of connection when you go all the way down, those two lumps that your ankles, that we think of as your ankles, there's that lump on the inside and a lump on the outside. And actually connects there to each other. One of those bones is the tibia, the medial one. One of those bones is the fibula, the lateral one. And if you've ever heard somebody say they have a high ankle sprain, it's that tibiofibular joint that is probably strained. That's likely what they're referring to when they talk about a high ankle sprain.

And then below that there's a bone that kind of sits right in between those two bones, and it's directly underneath. It's called the talus bone. And the talus is between your tibia, fibula and the heel joint called the calcaneus. So there's a talus in between those two, and then the heel joint, or the heel bone is there, and that heel bone is the calcaneus.

If you work your way forward from that heel bone, there are smaller bones in the foot, and they are called the tarsals. And like the carpals of the hand, they're tarsals, smaller bones in the foot. And then there are these longer bones in the foot before you get to the toes, and those are called metatarsals. And the toes, just like the fingers, are called phalanges. So you've got the tarsals, metatarsals, and phalanges.

So we're taking a real brief overview of what's going on in this human movement system of the skeletal system. And the muscles attach to these bones, and through joints, create movement through ranges of motion that allow us to create locomotion. That allows us to move. And so going through this, just a very high level of what's going on in the body and what these bones are called.

Now, the bones also have very interesting "bony landmarks" is what we call them. And you could have things that are called condyles, which are just sections or bony landmarks. There are epicondyles. There's sulcus and fossas and tubercles and trochanters. All of these names, as you get deeper into learning not just what the bones are, but what are the sections of the bone. There's a head to a bone. There might be a neck to a bone.

So these bony landmarks become very valuable because oftentimes these bony landmarks do several things. One, they might be where muscles sit. They might be where tendons slide through or layer through. And then it also might be an area where it's just easy to identify, like the greater trochanter of the femur would be that bony piece on the edge of your femur.

So looking at these, understanding the bones a little bit more before we get to the muscles. So just knowing where they are. And then the bones will also help you to remember some of he muscles' names. As a matter of fact, there are names historically that we've called one thing that we're actually going through changing in order to connect them more to this makes more sense based off of the bone it's on.

So a particular example that we're talking about is there's a muscle on the side of, on the lateral side of your lower leg, and those are called your peroneals, and they evert the foot. Well, the peroneals are going through a, kind of a systematic name change in a lot of the textbooks to rename the peroneals to the fibularis muscles. And we're gonna change that.

Well, why are we changing it? Well, the fibularis muscle lies on top of which bone? Ah, that small lie bone. The fibula, that's correct. So understanding bones is going to help you understand some of the muscles as well. It's just a great, little understanding of anatomy that helps you to move forward. Not just in anatomy for the sake of knowing it, but for having a clearer understanding of the language that we are going to be using as we move forward as exercise professionals, as certified personal trainers. And if this podcast helps you out, fantastic. If it might be a little remedial because you've taken classes and you're familiar with these bones or because it's hard to visualize, then go back, visualize these bones a little bit more. Look at the images and see if listening to this while looking at those images are gonna be able to help you out.

My name is Rick Richey. If you've got questions, you can hit me up at rick.richey, R-I-C-H-E-Y, @nasm.org and let me know what you want to hear us talk about on the NASM-CPT podcast, how it might affect you, and what we can do for you. Welcome, thank you so much for listening to the NASM-CPT podcast. Have a good one.

The Author

National Academy of Sports Medicine

National Academy of Sports Medicine

Since 1987 the National Academy of Sports Medicine (NASM) has been the global leader in delivering evidence-based certifications and advanced specializations to health and fitness professionals. Our products and services are scientifically and clinically proven. They are revered and utilized by leading brands and programs around the world and have launched thousands of successful careers.


Start Your Fitness Career Today

Become A Top-Notch Certified Personal Trainer

A NASM advisor will contact you to help you get started.

Get Started