Muscle The gripping story of strength and movement

Roy A. Meals

Book - 2023

"Muscle tissue powers every heartbeat, blink, jog, jump, and goose bump. It is the force behind the most critical bodily functions, including digestion and childbirth, as well as extreme feats of athleticism. While most of our organs remain invisible to us, we can mold our muscles with exercise and observe the results. In this eye-opening book, orthopedic surgeon Roy A. Meals takes us on a wide-ranging journey through anatomy, biology, history, and health to unlock the mysteries of our muscles. He illustrates the molecular processes at work when our muscles contract and breaks down the three different types of muscle -- smooth, skeletal, and cardiac -- to reveal their unique and often reflexive functions in our bodies. As informative a...s it is engaging, Muscle explains the major advancements in medicine, from the development of the EKG machine to muscle transplants and cutting-edge gene-editing research. Meals describes the causes and treatments for common ailments like cramps and strains, as well as rare genetic disorders like muscular dystrophy. He investigates the science behind popular fitness trends, including how resistance training builds our muscles, what it means to "feel the burn," and the varied benefits of stretching, warming up, or cooling down. Along the way, Meals offers insight into the chaning aesthetic and cultural conception of muscle, from Michelangelo's David to present-day bodybuilders, and detours into the animal kingdom to discover specialized muscles that control a bird's song or a whale's blowhole. Brimming with fun facts, lucid illustrations, and infectious enthusiasm, Muscle sheds light on the astonishing, essential tissue that moves us through life"--Pages 2 -3 of cover

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Location Call Number   Status
2nd Floor New Shelf 612.74/Meals (NEW SHELF) Checked In
New York, NY : W.W. Norton & Company [2023]
Main Author
Roy A. Meals (author)
First edition
Physical Description
267 pages : illustrations ; 24 cm
Includes bibliographical references (pages 229-254) and index.
  • Warm-Up
  • Chapter 1. Discovery and Description
  • Chapter 2. Molecular Magic
  • Chapter 3. Skeletal Muscle
  • Chapter 4. Smooth Muscle
  • Chapter 5. Cardiac Muscle
  • Chapter 6. Conditioning
  • Chapter 7. Human Culture
  • Chapter 8. Discomforts and Diseases
  • Chapter 9. Zoological Survey
  • Chapter 10. Other Force Producers
  • Cool Down and Stretch
  • Acknowledgments
  • Supplemental Viewing
  • Selected Bibliography
  • Illustration Credits
  • Index
Review by Booklist Review

People are fascinated, admiring, and perhaps a bit envious of chiseled muscles and perfect physiques. There's something about well-developed muscles that shouts fitness and energy. Incorporating science, art, culture, and history into his discussion, orthopedic surgeon Meals celebrates this aspect of the human body. For starters, muscle comes in three varieties, skeletal (comprising roughly 40 percent of body mass), smooth, and cardiac. Skeletal muscles come in all shapes and sizes, from longest, the sartorius (in the thigh), to smallest, the stapedius (in the ear). Readers without a science background will probably find the book's coverage of anatomy, biochemistry, and physiology a hefty lift. Meals also reports on exercise and conditioning (both aerobic and resistance training), nutritional supplements, bodybuilding, and ancient sculptures featuring prominent musculature. Explanations of fast-twitch and slow-twitch muscle fibers, rigor mortis, goosebumps, and even sword-swallowing are included. This illustrated book serves as a companion to Meals' more entertaining Bones (2020). Anyone who doesn't have a buff body and a ripped six-pack can still dream while learning about the marvelous muscles we all do possess.

From Booklist, Copyright (c) American Library Association. Used with permission.
Review by Publisher's Weekly Review

Meals (Bones), a professor of orthopedic surgery at UCLA, delivers a thorough overview of muscles and how they operate. Expounding on their biology, Meals explains that, on a molecular level, muscle consists of two protein filaments, actin and myosin, that work in tandem to convert "chemical energy into physical force." He surveys different kinds of muscles, noting that skeletal muscles (those attached to bones) make up 40% of human body mass, smooth muscles in the trachea and intestines are responsible for moving air and solids through the body, and cardiac muscle in the heart contracts to keep blood circulating. He writes that while skeletal muscle is mostly under voluntary control, smooth muscle operates outside of consciousness and serves a crucial role in the autonomic nervous system, which is responsible for activating the fight-or-flight response (dilating pupils and lung airways to see farther and "capture more oxygen" when threatened), as well as promoting digestion and lowering one's heart rate when resting. The scientific insights illuminate the abilities and oddities of the human body (goosebumps are caused by the contraction of small muscles connecting hair follicles to the skin), and the fitness advice is a boon (aerobic exercise for at least 150 minutes per week "improves the heart's muscle tone"). The result is a strong primer on an essential part of the human body. Illus. (June)

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Review by Kirkus Book Review

A pop-science overview of muscles from the author of Bones: Inside and Out. Meals, a professor of orthopedic surgery at UCLA, begins with a quick history that reveals how thinkers from all cultures taught mostly nonsense about human anatomy until the European Renaissance, when artists and researchers became obsessed with getting it right, so they began dissecting bodies. By the 19th century, scientists were able to show how muscles create movement. This is a subject less straightforward than anatomy, and the author's admirable effort to explain it, heavy with analogies and diagrams, is generally accessible but may cause a few struggles for readers unfamiliar with biochemistry. Science buffs will perk up when he delivers the basics. Humans have 650 muscles, more or less (some are born missing a few, usually without a problem; others have extras), and there are three types. Most familiar are skeletal muscles, which make up about 40% of our weight and are under conscious control. Smooth muscles work automatically to control our digestive tract, urinary tract, blood vessels, and other housekeeping systems. Uniquely, cardiac muscle cells contract regularly without any neurological stimulus--and can do so for more than 100 years if properly cared for. In the chapter on muscle issues, Meals largely focuses on fatigue, strains, injuries, and aging, and he offers an amusing account of physical training programs throughout history. The author wisely devotes several chapters to exercise and sports, paying special attention to conditioning, nutrition, and muscle-building supplements, including a mildly skeptical review of performance enhancers and an entertaining review of cheating. Readers who suspect that many animals have muscles that produce bizarre phenomena will find plenty to engage in the chapter titled "Zoological Survey." For example, even though the octopus has "a large brain for its body size, roughly two-thirds of tentacle control comes from nerve centers in the tentacles themselves." An easy-to-digest science lesson tailored for general readers. Copyright (c) Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.

Copyright (c) Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.