Is there any research-based list of muscles and muscle groups by their volume or mass, in average men (or even any subset of healthy human population)?

It's easy to find statements like gluteus maximus and quadriceps femoris being among the biggest muscles in the body, but without precise data. With some effort I can also find research such as https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/12012082 for specific muscles and extract basic information such as https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rectus_abdominis_muscle#Size (from 3 papers):

It's typically around 10 mm thick (compared to 20 mm thick superficial fat),[2] or 20 mm thick in young athletes such as handball players.[3] Typical volume is around 300 cm³ in non-active indivuals, or almost 500 cm³ in athletes (tennis players).[4]

I can't however find an overview. Any suggestion? Another question asks about relative size with a focus on upper vs. lower body.

  • 1
    In lack of reputation I have to write an answer instead of a comment. @Whosyourjay: I'd really like to have access to your spreadsheet! Very impressive work!
    – David
    Feb 4, 2018 at 20:26
  • 2
    @David Here's the sheet Feb 27, 2019 at 22:54

1 Answer 1


Here, I made a list :)

#   cm^3    muscle
1   879.65  Gluteus maximus
    674.00  Vastus lateralis
    599.20  Adductor magnus
    580.00  Vastus intermedius
5   531.90  Soleus      
    461.00  Vastus medialis
    458.29  Gluteus medius
    323.45  Rectus femoris
    306.73  Psoas major
10  262.30  Latissimus dorsi        
    256.80  Medial gastrocnemius
    242.73  Trapezius
    233.35  Biceps femoris long head
    231.13  Semimembranosus
15  230.82  Pectoralis major sternocostal       
    210.78  External obliques
    196.47  Semitendinosus
    182.50  Adductor Longus
    181.80  Sartorius
20  180.89  Deltoid (acromial)      
    174.45  Triceps brachii long head
    171.49  Gluteus minimus
    171.23  Lateral gastrocnemius
    166.80  Tibialis anterior
25  164.50  Subscapularis       
    158.35  Rectus abdominus
    149.92  Internal obliques
    147.91  Longissimus thoracis
    147.20  Multifidus
30  143.70  Brachialis

There are a few main papers on this topic, and I combined them as best I could.

All of these are for one copy of the muscle (hence the difference from your rectus abdominus value). Two of these studies use elderly cadavers and one is a simulation. For those, I computed the geometric average ratio where there were overlapping datapoints and used this ratio to extrapolate implied volumes for the remaining datapoints. Anywhere there were 2 or more resulting datapoints I took the linear average. Finally, I used about 10 other studies of individual muscles that aren't cited here.

Gluteus medius, psoas, and erector spinae were particularly hard to get data on. Despite the erector spinae being 843cm^3 in one study, and possibly more, I only found individual data on longissimus thoracis and 2 other of the 9 muscles involved. It could be that at least one of the missing ones belongs on the list.

Let me know if you want more muscles on the list, muscle groups, or my spreadsheet. I'm pretty confident that these top 30 are close, but any further extension to the list might have many missing items.

  • Impressive work!
    – Nemo
    Mar 18, 2017 at 17:03
  • Neat! But I'm quite surprised that the heart doesn't make it onto this list.
    – Roger
    Feb 20, 2019 at 16:36
  • From this data, all i'll workout for weight gain now is legs. docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/…
    – Gabriel
    Aug 6, 2019 at 21:41

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