How to Train Your Sartorius Muscle

The longest muscle in your body can be a key to better lower body training.

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Considering that the human body has more than 600 muscles, it’s understandable if a few fly under your radar. One of these unknown, underappreciated muscles is the sartorius. After all, this thin, ribbon-like leg muscle isn’t particularly strong or the primary driver of any action. Indeed, it’s a “synergist,” always working in concert with other muscles to produce movement.

But that’s exactly why you should give it more love in your training program. Strengthening the sartorius can make it a better co-worker, increasing your power and performance in just about everything you do.

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Men's Health

The longest muscle in the human body, the sartorius also enjoys the distinction of crossing two joints, wrapping from the outside of each hip to the inside of each knee. At the hip joint, the sartorius assists with flexion, external rotation, and the abduction of the leg. At the knee, it is similarly helpful, flexing the joint and rotating the leg inward.

sartorius muscle, illustration
A rendering of the sartorius muscle.
SEBASTIAN KAULITZKI/SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARYGetty Images

A combination of those movements is what allows you to sit in a cross-legged position—like an old-fashioned tailor—which is why the sartorius is also sometimes called the “tailor’s muscle.” But more important, those movements are what allow you to walk, run, squat, climb, and lunge in all directions. In fact, every time you use your legs, your sartorius kicks into gear, which is why strengthening the muscle can be such a boon to, well, just about every lower body movement imaginable.

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Your move: You already work the sartorius whenever you perform an exercise that requires you to flex your hips or knees, but your workouts likely neglect two of its other actions—hip abduction (movement away from the midline of the body) and external rotation—so focus on those with exercises such as the crossover step up, resistance band crab walk, and glute bridges with abduction.

And don’t forget to foam roll and stretch your hip flexors, including your sartorius, once you’re done. If you have niggling back pain, tightness in these muscles might be what’s causing it.

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