The gluteus maximus, hamstrings and quadriceps are large muscle groups used while sprinting. Other large muscle groups used are the gastrocnemius and soleus and hip flexors.
The gluteus maximus and hamstring muscles contract and are responsible for the force that drives the leg backwards during sprints. The gluteus maximus is the largest and strongest muscle in the body, originating at the pelvic bone, fanning down and out and inserting at the top of the femur bone. The hamstrings originate at the pelvic bone, run down the back of the thigh and insert at the back of the tibia bone. The quadriceps are responsible for straightening the knee joint after it strikes the ground. They originate at the pelvic bone and run down the front of the thigh inserting at the top of the tibia bone. The gastrocnemius and soleus make up the calf muscles in the back of the lower leg. These muscles aid in straightening the ankle joint. As force is applied when pushing off the ground, these muscles contract to straighten the ankle and assist in the forward motion of the foot. Hip flexors contract to lift legs while sprinting then prepare them to strike again. Hip flexor muscles must contract explosively during sprinting to pull the leg back and prepare it to strike again. Core and upper body muscles are used in sprinting, but its the collection of the muscles in the lower body that drive the body forward.