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New research shows muscle strength is an asset elite athletes have, the rest of us often don't
The Glute Max - the most important muscle to improve your times
The Glute Max - The King of Muscles?
Today, most weekend warrior athletes are aware that we need to focus on our strength work, but you may be surprised to learn just how big an advantage this gives us and how one muscle reigns supreme when it comes to sprinting.
Researchers at Loughborough University in the UK found that elite athletes had greater overall muscle strength when compared to sub-elite athletes, but even more interestingly; the Glute Max that was King for sprinting success.
The researchers found that 44% of variability of performance amongst the sample was explained by the size of the Glute Max. This muscle was an incredible 45% bigger in elite sprinters than sub-elite sprinters (who are still incredibly fast). So you can imagine that this would leave the average recreational runner a heap of room for improvement!
The research was looking specifically at spriters times while racing 100 meters, but the muscle showed so much importance. Perhaps it’s a one all runners should be careful not to neglect.
Good glute strength and function provides us with both power and stability, our three glutes (Gluteus Maximus, Medius and Minimus) work to stabilise the femur in the hip socket and keep us walking straight, from toe, to knee to hip, loading evenly through the ankles and knees and protecting against osteoarthritis in the hip. The Gluteus Maximus (Glute Max), as the name suggests, is the biggest of the three, it is one of the largest and strongest muscles in the body and rightly so, as we rely on it for so much - to run, walk and climb.
Two great exercises for the Glute Max are the Hip Thruster and Squat (see our video library). The hip thruster is the best to get started with, put a band around your legs, just above the knees and lift your hips without clenching, resisting the pull of the band as you raise your hips - follow our video for more guidance.
The squat is a little more difficult for many people, often people will collapse in and push forward with their knees, you can put a ball between your legs to stop them from coming closer together, or put a band around your knees and push against the resistance. Remember the exercise is for your bum, so make sure you can feel the glutes working - push your bum back as you go down, do not push your knees forward, and do not clench.
If you are a runner and want to increase your race or training times we suggest including these exercises in your strengthening routine. If you're really not sure, come in for an assessment and we'll check your glute strength and see how you are executing your exercises.