Voluntary & Involuntary Muscles: Lesson for Kids

Instructor: Mark Boster
Have you ever noticed that sometimes you can control what your body does, and sometimes you can't? That is because of two different muscle types in your body. What? Didn't you know that your body has different types of muscles? Learn about them here!

The Doctor or the Park?

When you were little did you ever have to go to the doctor, but didn't want to? Maybe your mother had to drag you there kicking and screaming. You really didn't have much say in that, did you? How about when someone took you to a fair, carnival, or amusement park - did you have to be dragged there, or did you choose to go? Well, that is the difference between involuntary and voluntary.


Think about how you use your muscles. Sometimes you get to choose what muscles to use, like when you kick a ball. The muscles you have control over are called voluntary muscles. But muscles, like your heart, that work without you telling them to are called involuntary muscles. Let's take a closer look at each of these types of muscle.

Voluntary Muscles

So, what muscles can you control? You can control if you are going to use your leg to kick your sister, or not. You can also decide if you are going to turn your head or not. You can even decide if you are going to stand or sit. All the muscles involved in these activities are called voluntary muscles.

A good way to remember this is to think about this: If someone asked for volunteers to try out a new roller coaster, you would volunteer by raising your hand. If you didn't want to volunteer you would keep your hand down. Either way is your choice. So the muscles used to raise your hand are voluntary muscles.


Voluntary muscles are attached to bones so you can make parts of your body move. When you bend your elbow, there is a muscle doing that. There is another muscle that unbends your elbow. All these muscles work by pulling. None of the voluntary muscles can push.

Involuntary Muscles

Well then, what muscles do you have no control over?

How about your heart. Do you have to keep telling your heart to beat? Nope, it does that all by itself. Nor can you make it stop by thinking hard enough.

How about your lungs, do you tell them to keep working and breathe or do they work without you thinking?

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