Booty Power: Why Every Triathlete Should Want a Big Butt

Many athletes—females in particular—focus much of their efforts into shrinking their behinds. And that could be hurting their performance.

A strong and balanced backside equals faster and stronger running, more powerful cycling, and a decreased risk for injury. In other words, your butt is responsible for a lot of your success in a triathlon, 5K, half-marathon or long-distance run. 

More3 Ways Triathletes Can Improve Their Run Economy

The gluteus medius, a posterior muscle along with the gluteus minimus and the more commonly known, gluteus maximus, contribute largely to forward and upward propulsion, hip extension, and sideways movements (hip abduction).

A Breakdown of Your Butt Muscles

  • Gluteus medius assists in the internal and external rotation of the femur, depending upon the position of the femur during movement, as well as pelvic stabilization.
  • Gluteus maximus extends the hip, externally rotates the hip, and assists in adduction, or when you move the leg toward your body laterally. 
  • Gluteus minimus abducts the hip while also internally rotating the hip while abducting.

More: 7 Glute Stretches for Maximum Performance

A 2006 study, published in the The Journal of Experimental Biology, examined the role of gluteus maximus during running. The study's author, Harvard University Professor Daniel E. Lieberman, found the primary role of the gluteus maximus is to control trunk flexion and to decelerate the swing leg. It also extends the hip joint as the weight-bearing leg pushes off the ground, moving the body forward.

Remember, running is a series of one-legged stances. What your muscles do while standing on one leg is totally different when standing on two. Your butt is not only a power source; it's a stabilizer.

More: 3 TRX Moves for Triathletes

  • 1
  • of
  • 2

About the Author

Marisa Carter

Marisa Carter is a coach for E3: Elite Human Performance in Greensboro, North Carolina. She is also a USA Track & Field and USA Triathlon-certified coach. You can find her at

Discuss This Article