Previous research has shown that the growth of the gluteus maximus muscle is a determining factor in a child's running ability. Researchers at the University of Loughborough (Leicestershire, England), who published their work in the journal Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise, decided to test whether this pattern persists in elite sports, writes The Independent.
Using MRI, the researchers measured the size of 23 lower body muscles in 42 men: five of them were top sprinters who competed in the highest rankings, 26 were also professional athletes, but with slightly worse achievements, and 11 were ordinary men. Personal records at 100 meters for the professionals who participated in the study ranged from 9.91 to 11.25 seconds.
It turned out that personal indicators are directly related to the size of several muscles. And if the calf muscles did not play a special role, then, for example, the muscles of the hip extensors in the champions were much better developed than in their less successful colleagues. The most important of all was the gluteus maximus muscle - the athlete's success was 44% dependent on its size.
“This is surprising because it is believed that a sprinter's achievement is determined by many factors - technique, psychology, nutrition, anatomy in general. We found that half of success depends on a single muscle, the study authors write. "The larger the gluteus maximus, the more energy a runner can generate, and the faster he sprints".
The researchers believe their findings could revolutionize breeding by using specific characteristics, coaches will be able to select from among athletes those who were originally gifted by nature to sprint.