A study from Loughborough University found that sprinters with a larger gluteus maximus can run up to 44% faster.
They published the full findings of the study d in the journal Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise.
The team discovered this after comparing the lower body muscles of elite sprinters, sub-elite athletes or untrained.
Elite sprinters were not only more muscular generally, but also in a very specific way.
While their calf muscles were similar in size to those of their sub-elite counterparts, their gluteus maximus and hip extensors were larger.
The researchers claimed the findings have the potential to revolutionize the physical training and performance of many athletes.
“To find a single muscle that alone seems so important, explaining nearly half the variability, is remarkable,” explained Jonathan Folland.
“It appears that muscle size is more important for fast running than we thought.
“And especially the size of the hip extensors and gluteus maximus.
“The logical implication is that with a larger gluteus maximus, the runner will be able to generate more power.
“Thus, increasing the size of the gluteus maximus in particular — as well as the other hip extensor muscles — would be expected to improve sprint performance.”
Loughborough University doctoral student Rob Miller thought the same thing.
“I believe this line of research has the potential to have a significant impact on coaches and practitioners working with elite-level sprinters.
Mr Miller is a strength and conditioning coach with British Athletics.
The team is now building on the research with a study focused on women.
They are also collecting data for a comparison of the muscle anatomy of runners that compete over different distances.