The Three Types of Muscles in Human Body | Livestrong.com (2023)

The Three Types of Muscles in Human Body | Livestrong.com (1)

There are three different types of muscles in the human body.

Image Credit: gradyreese/E+/GettyImages

It's virtually impossible to think about the types of muscles in the human body without being overwhelmed by the beautiful complexity of the muscular systems. Depending on who you ask and exactly how they define a single muscle, human bodies are home to between 650 and 840 named skeletal muscles alone. Naturally, breaking those muscles down into groups helps you grasp some of that enormity and in the big picture, there are three key types of muscles in the human body: Those composed of skeletal muscle tissue, cardiac muscle tissue and smooth muscle tissue.

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The Common Factors

Before you can really get to know how the three types of muscles in the human body differ, it helps to know what they have in common. Because the primary function of muscle cells is to allow movement, muscle cells are excitable. And no, not "excitable" in the "14-year-old playing Fortnite" way, but excitable in that they respond to stimulus.

When muscles are attached to two movable objects (primarily, as you'll soon discover, bones), the contraction and expansion of those muscles causes said objects to move. Muscle movement falls into two basic categories:

  • Voluntary: These muscles are under conscious control; you decide to move them and they move in turn, like your decision to raise your arm when you know the answer to a question.
  • Involuntary: These muscles are not under your conscious control, yet still move. For example, the dilation of your pupils in the dark or contraction in the light is a type of involuntary muscle movement.

All muscles are composed of thousands of tightly bundled elastic fibers, which themselves are made up of tiny protein blocks called myofibrils. As you take in carbohydrates from your food, the glucose from those carbs fuels your muscles. Of course, carbs are just one part of the food pyramid, and muscle tissue requires a healthy balance of minerals, electrolytes, calcium, magnesium potassium, sodium and other food elements to function at their best.

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Get to Know Skeletal Muscle

If you guessed that skeletal muscles are the type of muscle tissue attached to the bone, you guessed right. That's not the whole story, though, as some skeletal muscles are also attached to the skin, such as the expressive muscles of the face. Ultimately, this muscle tissue's function is to help your body move, whether by locomotion, posture, facial expression or other intentional gestures.

This type of movement makes skeletal muscle the only one of the three groups that are voluntarily controlled. Your brain consciously "tells" these muscles what to do when you move. In addition to voluntary movement, skeletal muscles help the body produce heat and protect vital organs.

About 40 percent of your entire body is made up of skeletal muscle, so it's little wonder that this type of muscle features all kinds of wonderfully interconnected processes, from the way it allows locomotion to the way its cells are made up.

Skeletal Muscular System and Movement

Skeletal muscle very much relies on the skeleton itself to perform the bodies' most basic movements. Without the 206 bones of the human skeleton pulling against contracting skeletal muscle fibers, you simply wouldn't be able to walk, run, stand or even sit down. Think of bones like levers of a sort, changing the strength and direction of the force generated by the skeletal muscle. This interacting system between bones and skeletal muscle is known as the musculoskeletal system.

But when your skeletal muscles propel your body to move, they're not just helping you cross the street. As these muscles contract and expand again, they generate heat and contribute to thermal homeostatis, the essential process by which warm-blooded mammals maintain internal body temperature within a specific range. While known for their voluntary movement, shivering is actually an involuntary contraction of skeletal muscles that happens when your body detects low temperatures.

Skeletal Muscle Structure

Getting down to the microscopic level, skeletal muscle cells are called myocytes, of which the human body maintains a fairly consistent amount throughout its lifespan. The cells of skeletal muscles feature a distinct striated appearance, or a texture of tiny, scratch-like grooves, dotted with many nuclei. This also explains why skeletal muscles are sometimes called "striated muscles." The cells themselves are cylindrical, while skeletal muscle tissue is composed of bundles surrounded by connective tissue.

Most often, skeletal muscles operate in opposing pairs, like the biceps at the front of your upper arm and the triceps on the back of it. Skeletal muscle formations typically come in four types of basic shapes:

  • Spindle: Tapered on each end and wide in the middle (like the biceps)
  • Flat: Sheet-like formations, as seen in the diaphragm
  • Triangular: A wide bottom that tapers at the top, as in the deltoid muscles
  • Circular: A round, ring-like shape with a space in the middle also known as a sphincter, such as the muscles around the mouth or the pupils
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Voluntary and Involuntary Muscle Movement

The interplay between the brain, nerves and skeletal muscles, works directly with skeletal muscles to move your body is known as the neuromuscular system. When you think about moving a muscle, here's how your brain and your body work together to make voluntary muscle movement happen:

  • First, your brain sends a message to your motor neurons, a special type of branch-like nerve cell connected to your skeletal muscles.
  • Your body then releases the chemical acetylcholine from the presynaptic terminals on the tips of those neurons.
  • In response to the release of acetylcholine at the muscular junction, the muscle contracts, setting off the reactions that put the body in motion.

Involuntary muscle movement, on the other hand, happens automatically. That's where your body's cardiac muscle and smooth muscle systems come in to play. They may take up a whole lot less space and body mass than your skeletal muscles, but they're every bit as important.

Read more: How Are the Muscular and Nervous System Connected?

Brush Up on Cardiac Muscle

Like skeletal muscles, it's all in the name for cardiac muscles. Of the three types of muscle tissue, this is the type of muscle that makes up the wall of the heart. This essential muscle group is what enables the heart to contract. It's also the easiest muscle group to remember when the test rolls around, because all human bodies contain only one cardiac muscle: the heart itself.

In contrast to the voluntary control you exert over your skeletal muscles, your cardiac muscles are under involuntary control. Because they contract spontaneously and rhythmically (think of the rhythm of your heartbeat), cardiac muscles are known as autorhythmic muscles. Cardiac muscle cells are unique in that they contract in their own rhythm without the need for external stimulation.

Those autorhythmic cardiac muscle cells are called cardiomyocytes and feature a striated appearance, akin to the cells of skeletal muscles. While skeletal muscle cells sport multiple nuclei on their membranes, cardiomyocytes usually just have a single central nucleus and attach to each other via cell junctions called intercalated discs. Cardiac muscle cells form long muscle fibers, while the disc-shaped junctions help cells synchronize their actions even as pressure in the cardiac cycle changes.

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Read more: Can You Do Cardio Exercise Every Day?

Sort Out Smooth Muscle

Now that you know what falls into the skeletal and cardiac muscle groups, consider the smooth muscle group a sort of catch-all bin for the rest. Smooth muscles are the building blocks of hollow visceral organs such as the intestine, airways, urinary tract, uterus, blood vessels and internal parts of the eyes. The heart, the sole domain of cardiac muscles, is the exception here.

Unlike the other types of muscles, smooth muscles typically exist at a cellular level. That means that everyone's body has just about countless amounts of smooth muscles. Similar to the cardiac muscles of the heart, smooth muscles are also under involuntary control. They're controlled by the autonomic nervous system and are sometimes known simply as "involuntary muscles" or "visceral muscles."

The individual cells of smooth muscles are — wait for it — smooth (no striation here, for a change) and feature a distinctive spindle shape, tapered on the edges and wider in the middle. Similar to cardiac muscle cells, smooth muscle cells feature a single nucleus. These muscles form layered sheets and when they contract, they contract in waves.

Read more: What Organs Make Up the Muscular System?

Examples of Muscle Types

Now that you know how muscle tissue is made up and how muscles interact with the bones and nervous system, it helps to know where exactly these muscles reside in the body. While cardiac muscles are exclusively found in the heart, skeletal and smooth muscle tissue occurs throughout the body. At nearly half your body weight, skeletal muscles can be found from top to bottom, including these examples:

(Video) Types of Muscles in Human Body | Science for Kids

  • Deltoids of the front shoulders
  • Trapezius of the upper shoulders
  • Pectoralis major of the chest
  • Pectoralis minor
  • Serratus anterior at the sides of the ribs
  • Biceps brachii at the front of the upper arm
  • Rectus abdominis of the stomach
  • Satorius of the thighs
  • Rectus femoris of the front upper legs
  • Fibularis longus at the sides the shins
  • Splenius capitis at the back of the next
  • Levator scapulae at the base of the neck
  • Latissimus dorsi of the mid-back
  • External obliques above the hips
  • Gluteus maximus of the buttocks
  • Biceps femoris of the rear thighs

Because smooth muscles are so numerous, it's easiest to identify the organ systems that feature smooth muscles when naming smooth muscle examples. These organ systems include:

  • Gastrointestinal tract
  • Cardiovascular system (including blood vessels and lymphatic vessels)
  • Renal system (the urinary bladder)
  • Male and female reproductive tracts
  • Respiratory tract
  • Integumentary system (the erector pili muscles of the skin found around hair follicles)
  • Sensory system (such as the ciliary muscles of the eye's iris)

FAQs

What are the 3 types of muscles? ›

The 3 types of muscle tissue are cardiac, smooth, and skeletal. Cardiac muscle cells are located in the walls of the heart, appear striped (striated), and are under involuntary control.

What are the 3 types of muscle and examples quizlet? ›

The three types of muscle tissue are skeletal, cardiac, and smooth. Skeletal muscle is attached to bones, has cylindrical cells, is striated, multinucleate, and voluntary control. Cardiac is the heart, branched cells, striated, uni or dinucleate, and involuntary.

What are the types of human muscle? ›

In the body, there are three types of muscle: skeletal (striated), smooth, and cardiac.

What are muscles in human body? ›

They are: Skeletal: As part of the musculoskeletal system, these muscles work with your bones, tendons and ligaments. Tendons attach skeletal muscles to bones all over your body. Together, they support the weight of your body and help you move.

What is the difference between the 3 types of muscle tissue? ›

Each type of muscle tissue in the human body has a unique structure and a specific role. Skeletal muscle moves bones and other structures. Cardiac muscle contracts the heart to pump blood. The smooth muscle tissue that forms organs like the stomach and bladder changes shape to facilitate bodily functions.

Which of the three muscle types are voluntary? ›

There are three types of muscles in your body:
  • Skeletal muscle: Skeletal muscles are voluntary muscles, meaning you control how and when they move and work. ...
  • Cardiac muscle: Cardiac muscles are only in your heart. ...
  • Smooth muscle: Smooth muscle makes up your organs, blood vessels, digestive tract, skin and other areas.
1 Sept 2021

What are the 3 tissue types in the heart? ›

The wall of the heart separates into the following layers: epicardium, myocardium, and endocardium. These three layers of the heart are embryologically equivalent to the three layers of blood vessels: tunica adventitia, tunica media, and tunica intima, respectively.

How many muscles are in the human body? ›

Muscles and Joints

The human body has more than 600 muscles. They do everything from pumping blood throughout the body to helping us lift something heavy.

How many types of muscles are there which are the types Class 7? ›

Solution : The muscles are of three main types, viz. (1) Skeletal or voluntary muscles (2) Cardiac muscles (3) Smooth or involuntary muscles.

What is a muscle class 6? ›

Muscles are tissues that can contract, and therefore they help in the movement of the other body parts. It is a tissue that helps in maintaining the posture and position of a body. Movement of bones in the joints. Bones cannot move on their own. The muscle brings about the movement of bones.

What are the three types of muscles and what is the function of each which ones are voluntary quizlet? ›

List the three types of muscle. Three types of muscle are: Skeletal (striated), smooth, and cardiac muscle. Skeletal is voluntary, while cardiac muscle is involuntary (appears striated under the microscope; controls the heart).

What are the three types of muscle tissue What are their functions quizlet? ›

Terms in this set (3)
  • Skeletal Muscle. Under voluntary control, contracts to pull on bones. NEED TO KNOW THIS.... ...
  • Cardiac Muscle. Under involuntary control, found only in heart, pumps blood. ...
  • Smooth Muscle. Under Involuntary muscle, found in walls of hallow organs such as stomach, uterus, and blood vessels.

What is the difference between the three types of muscles quizlet? ›

Skeletal muscle tissue is found in the skeletal muscles of the human body. The control over them is completely voluntary. Smooth muscle cells are found in the walls of internal organs and blood vessels, they are controlled by the autonomic nervous system. Cardiac tissue is present in the heart muscle.

Is the heart a muscle? ›

Your heart is actually a muscular organ. An organ is a group of tissues that work together to perform a specific function. In the case of your heart, this function is pumping blood throughout your body. Additionally, the heart is largely made up of a type of muscle tissue called cardiac muscle.

How do muscles work short answer? ›

Muscles move body parts by contracting and then relaxing. Muscles can pull bones, but they can't push them back to the original position. So they work in pairs of flexors and extensors. The flexor contracts to bend a limb at a joint.

What type of muscle is voluntary? ›

skeletal muscle, also called voluntary muscle, in vertebrates, most common of the three types of muscle in the body. Skeletal muscles are attached to bones by tendons, and they produce all the movements of body parts in relation to each other.

What are muscles made from? ›

A kind of elastic tissue makes up each muscle, which consists of thousands, or tens of thousands, of small muscle fibers. Each fiber comprises many tiny strands called fibrils. Impulses from nerve cells control the contraction of each muscle fiber. A muscle's strength depends mainly on how many fibers are present.

How are muscles named? ›

Some muscles are named based on their size and location, such as the gluteal muscles of the buttocks. Other muscle names can indicate the location in the body or bones with which the muscle is associated, such as the tibialis anterior.

What are the three organs of the muscular system? ›

The muscular system is an organ system consisting of skeletal, smooth, and cardiac muscle.

What is the difference between the 3 types of muscle tissue? ›

Each type of muscle tissue in the human body has a unique structure and a specific role. Skeletal muscle moves bones and other structures. Cardiac muscle contracts the heart to pump blood. The smooth muscle tissue that forms organs like the stomach and bladder changes shape to facilitate bodily functions.

What are the 4 main parts of the muscular system? ›

How the muscular system works
  • Skeletal muscle. Skeletal muscles are the only muscles that can be consciously controlled. ...
  • Smooth muscle. Smooth muscle lines the inside of blood vessels and organs, such as the stomach, and is also known as visceral muscle. ...
  • Cardiac muscle.
30 May 2018

What are the 3 tissue types in the heart? ›

The wall of the heart separates into the following layers: epicardium, myocardium, and endocardium. These three layers of the heart are embryologically equivalent to the three layers of blood vessels: tunica adventitia, tunica media, and tunica intima, respectively.

What are the voluntary and involuntary muscles? ›

Voluntary muscles are those whose movement can be controlled at will or conscious control, while involuntary muscles are those whose movement can not be controlled at will or without conscious control or that work involuntarily, i.e., automatic. Involuntary muscles include smooth muscles and cardiac muscles.

Which of the three muscle types are voluntary? ›

There are three types of muscles in your body:
  • Skeletal muscle: Skeletal muscles are voluntary muscles, meaning you control how and when they move and work. ...
  • Cardiac muscle: Cardiac muscles are only in your heart. ...
  • Smooth muscle: Smooth muscle makes up your organs, blood vessels, digestive tract, skin and other areas.
1 Sept 2021

How many muscles are in the human body? ›

Muscles and Joints

The human body has more than 600 muscles. They do everything from pumping blood throughout the body to helping us lift something heavy.

Is the heart a muscle? ›

Your heart is actually a muscular organ. An organ is a group of tissues that work together to perform a specific function. In the case of your heart, this function is pumping blood throughout your body. Additionally, the heart is largely made up of a type of muscle tissue called cardiac muscle.

Is the brain a muscle? ›

The brain itself is a not a muscle. It contains blood vessels and nerves, including neurons and glial cells.

How are muscles named? ›

Some muscles are named based on their size and location, such as the gluteal muscles of the buttocks. Other muscle names can indicate the location in the body or bones with which the muscle is associated, such as the tibialis anterior.

What are the three organs of the muscular system? ›

The muscular system is an organ system consisting of skeletal, smooth, and cardiac muscle.

What are the three features of cardiac muscles? ›

Three features of cardiac muscles are:
  • The cells of cardiac muscles are cylindrical, branched, and uni-nucleate.
  • Cardiac muscles are involuntary muscles that contract rapidly but do not get fatigued.
  • They control the contraction and relaxation of the heart.

What type of tissue is blood? ›

Blood is one of the connective tissues. As a connective tissue, it consists of cells and cell fragments (formed elements) suspended in an intercellular matrix (plasma). Blood is the only liquid tissue in the body that measures about 5 liters in the adult human and accounts for 8 percent of the body weight.

Which type of tissue is heart? ›

Cardiac muscle tissue, or myocardium, is a specialized type of muscle tissue that forms the heart. This muscle tissue, which contracts and releases involuntarily, is responsible for keeping the heart pumping blood around the body.

How do muscles work? ›

Muscles move body parts by contracting and then relaxing. Muscles can pull bones, but they can't push them back to the original position. So they work in pairs of flexors and extensors. The flexor contracts to bend a limb at a joint.

Where is smooth muscle found? ›

Smooth muscle is found throughout the body where it serves a variety of functions. It is in the stomach and intestines where it helps with digestion and nutrient collection. It is found throughout the urinary system where it functions to help rid the body of toxins and works in electrolyte balance.

How do muscles move bones? ›

Your muscle fibers contract (tense up) in response to the message. When the muscle activates or bunches up, it pulls on the tendon. Tendons attach muscles to bones. The tendon pulls the bone, making it move.

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