This Is The Most Important Muscle In An Athlete's Body

michael phelps cavic finish at 2008 summer olympics

Photo: Adam Pretty/Getty Images

“It’s all about the arse.”Via ESPN (hat tip: Chris Yeh)

The bulk of any athlete’s power sits squarely in the gluteus maximus.

Roughly three times the size of the biceps, it is the largest of the three gluteal muscles.

It begins at the top of the pelvis (right near your rear pants pockets). Then it wraps around the bottom of the hip, where it connects to the front side of the femur. Besides giving the butt its girth, the glute max is mainly responsible for hip extension. That means it provides the initial push needed to get up from the bottom of a squat, along with the final stretch of the femur that gives athletes the explosive power needed for jumping, cutting and, in Poe’s case, blowing up double-teams and pile-driving quarterbacks.


Any act of throwing or hitting is a byproduct of the rotational torque created by the uncoiling of the hips, core and torso — a kinetic catapult that begins and ends, you guessed it, with the butt.

It’s true in the NFL, MLB, NHL (“Hockey Butt”) and even, surprisingly, NASCAR:

NASCAR drivers take “talking out of your arse” to a whole different level. In the past two decades, as Sprint Cup teams moved from bias-ply to the stronger and less sensitive radial tires, the feel for the control and balance of the car moved from the driver’s hands to the seat of his pants.

Drivers use the more than 40 nerve-rich pieces of connective tissue in the glutes as a sixth sense, helping them to read the road with a kind of butt braille. “My arse is my compass,” says 2010 Nationwide Series champion Brad Keselowski. “Without it, I’d crash like an aeroplane.”

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