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Arm Muscles: Anatomy, Support & Movement

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  • 0:05 Muscles That Move the Forearm
  • 1:19 Forearm Flexors
  • 3:30 Forearm Extensors
  • 3:48 Pronators and Supinators
  • 5:02 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: John Simmons

John has taught college science courses face-to-face and online since 1994 and has a doctorate in physiology.

Did you know that push-ups require contraction of the triceps brachii? The muscles that move the forearm can be categorized based on general action. This lesson identifies the major forearm flexors, extensors, supinators and pronators.

Muscles That Move the Forearm

The muscles of the forearm
Forearm Muscles

Let's face it - most people would like to have muscular arms. Lifting weights can do the trick, as it works many of the muscles that move the forearm.

Using anatomical terminology, the arm specifically refers to the upper appendage from the shoulder down to the elbow, and the forearm specifically refers to the lower appendage from the elbow down to the wrist. Muscles in the shoulder are responsible for moving the arm, and muscles in the arm are responsible for moving the forearm.

Several muscles are responsible for various movements of the forearm, and they're all inserted on the forearm itself, while they originate from more proximal locations. Most of the muscles that move the forearm originate from the humerus and insert on the forearm itself. However, the biceps brachii and triceps brachii are two noteworthy exceptions, as they originate from the scapula and insert on the forearm. This lesson will identify and describe the various muscles that move the forearm. We will discuss them in groups based on their general action.

Forearm Flexors

The two heads of the biceps brachii muscle
Bicep Heads

Let's first look at the forearm flexors. The muscles that flex the forearm are located in the anterior compartment of the arm. Most of us can recognize the biceps brachii as a forearm flexor muscle - and it certainly is. This is the muscle that bulges when we show our guns. When I worked out in school, we always did curls for the girls, as we were trying to get big biceps brachii, or guns, so to speak.

As the name suggests, this muscle has two heads - that is, two points of origin. Both the long head and the short head of the biceps brachii originate from the scapula and insert on the forearm. In addition to flexing the forearm, the biceps brachii helps to stabilize the shoulder joint. Thus, strengthening this muscle can help prevent shoulder injury.

If we peel away the biceps brachii, we can easily see the deeper brachialis, which is the major forearm flexor muscle. The brachialis inserts on the forearm, but, unlike the biceps brachii, the brachialis originates on the humerus.

The brachioradialis is one of my favorite forearm flexor muscles because it's easy to remember based on its name. You see, the name helps us to remember where it's attached. It originates from the humerus and inserts on the radius of the forearm. The term brachium refers to that part of the upper appendage containing the humerus.

Forearm Extensors

The three heads of the triceps brachii muscle
Tricep Heads

Now, let's move on to the forearm extensors. These are the muscles that extend the forearm. These muscles are located in the posterior compartment of the arm, as compared to the anterior compartment where we saw the flexors. The triceps brachii, as the name suggests, has three heads or origins. The long head originates from the scapula, while the lateral and medial heads originate from the humerus. All three heads insert on the olecranon of the ulna, commonly referred to as our elbow.

Push-ups require extension of the forearm at the elbow, thus utilizing this triceps brachii muscle.

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