Runners: introducing the glute max

running Mar 20, 2024

Whilst it's not as big a player as many other muscles during running, the glute max plays a role nonetheless! After all, the glute max is the BIGGEST muscle in our body, so it's got to be doing something!

The glute max is most active during the initial contact phase of running as it resists ground reaction forces that force the hip into flexion. It's also active during the late swing phase as they help to decelerate hip flexion & prepare for initial contact. These muscles also help to resist internal rotation of the hip & ensure an upright trunk. In fact, a large glute maximus is something that sets us apart from our ancient pre-human ancestors: the development of the glute max is thought to have allowed us to become upright & run! (Lieberman 2006)

From Dorn's 2012 study, we see the glute max rank below the 6 other muscles across all speeds, but demand on this muscle increases from 0.38 x BW of force at slower speeds to 2.22 x BW at sprinting. 


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  • Lenhart, R., et al. (2014). "Hip Muscle Loads During Running at Various Step Rates." J Orthop Sports Phys Ther: 1-30

  • Lieberman DE, Raichlen DA, Pontzer H, Bramble DM, Cutright-Smith E. The human gluteus maximus and its role in running. J Exp Biol. 2006;209(Pt 11):2143-2155.

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