Romance Writers' Reference: Muscles, Part 2

September 4, 2013

Well, hello there.  Image from

After finishing up the first draft of another manuscript during July's Camp NaNoWriMo, I had a doozy of a month at my day job.  This means that I haven't been able to focus my attention on the things that really matter in life.  One of those things is muscles.  Muscles on men.  Well, all of the distraction stops here and now.  It's finally time for the second installment of Romance Writers' Reference: Muscles, Part 2.  That's right.  Sorry for the delay, ladies.

Here's that handy-dandy reference chart again.  And here's the link to Romance Writers' Reference: Part 1, if you're interested.

Image from
Let's start with the latissimus dorsiAccording to Wikipedia,
The latissimus dorsi (plural: latissimi dorsi), meaning 'broadest [muscle] of the back' (Latin latus meaning 'broad', latissimus meaning 'broadest' and dorsum meaning the back), is the larger, flat, dorso-lateral muscle on the trunk, posterior to the arm, and partly covered by the trapezius on its median dorsal region.
Say what?  Let me 'splain.  Known to body builders as the "lats," the latissimus dorsi, when built up, is responsible for the V-taper of men's backs.  Personally, I find the V-taper to be as beautiful as an hourglass figure on a woman.  Part of the lats is tucked behind the trapezius muscle, and when both are defined and combined with good shoulders, a man will look pretty much like a superhero. Case in point:

Screencap of Henry Cavill's Man of Steel workout.  From Just Jared.

I think of the lats as the "flying squirrel" muscle; it also reminds me a bit of Evel Kneivel's cape.

Northern flying squirrel.  From

Next on the menu are the gluteus medias and the gluteus maximus, both of which make up the "glutes."  According to the article "Glute Activation: Optimizing the Function of the Posterior Power Center,"
The glutes are heavily involved in movements like the golf swing, throwing and striking actions along with running, jumping and direction changes.
Besides being a "posterior power center," the glutes have also provided much inspiration to singers and songwriters over the years.  According to the Wikipedia article "Cultural history of the buttocks," the following songs were written about the desirability of the buttocks:
  • "Fat Bottomed Girls" (1978)
  • "Da Butt" (1988)
  • "Baby Got Back" (1992)
  • "Rump Shaker" (1992)
  • "Back That Thang Up" (1999)
  • "Thong Song" (1999)
  • "Bootylicious" (2001)
  • "Check On It" (2005)
  • "Honky Tonk Badonkadonk" (2005)
  • "My Humps" (2005)
  • "Shake That" (2005)
  • "Bubble Butt" (2013)
 In one of my favorite movies, 1996's comedy Big Night starring Stanley Tucci and Tony Shalhoub, a man with a failing business visits a successful restauranteur for advice.  Here's what he gets.
Secondo: You know everything has just become...too much.
Pascal: Hey, hey, fucking guy! What this is? "Too much"?  Hey!  It is never "too much." It is only "not enough"! Bite your teeth into the ass of life and drag it to you! Hey!
"Bite your teeth into the ass of life" might be the best advice ever given to anyone for any reason.  Especially if the ass looks like this one.

Luke Bryan's fundament.  Image from

No one had a more beautiful butt than Gene Kelly.  Here are some images from my new favorite Tumblr, Gene Kelly's Butt.

Donald O'Connor, Debbie Reynolds, and Gene Kelly in Singin' in the Rain.

Gene Kelly and Mitzi Gaynor in Les Girls.
If I wanted to dig deeper, my own personal fascination with the male posterior probably came from Franco Zefferelli's 1968 version of Romeo and Juliet, which I saw as a high school freshman.  Leonard Whiting's butt cameo made all the girls giggle and sigh (and probably some of the boys, too!)

Leonard Whiting and Olivia Hussey in Romeo and Juliet.  Image from

Now it's time for legs.  Thigh muscles include the quadriceps (on the front) and the hamstrings (on the back.  For the etymology of quadriceps and hamstrings, let's turn once again to Wikipedia
The quadriceps femoris (Latin for "four-headed muscle of the femur"), also called simply the quadriceps, quadriceps extensor, quads, is a large muscle group that includes the four prevailing muscles on the front of the thigh. It is the great extensor muscle of the knee, forming a large fleshy mass which covers the front and sides of the femur.
The word ham originally referred to the fat and muscle behind the knee. String refers to tendons, and thus, the hamstrings are the string-like tendons felt on either side of the back of the knee.
While ranginess does have its appeal, I personally prefer a man with meat on his legs.  Rugby players tend to exemplify the body type of my protagonists.

Italian rugby players modeling Dolce & Gabbana underwear.  Look at them thighs.  Image from
Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson's thighs.  Holy.  God.  Image from Huffington Post.

The rugby players of the New Zealand All Blacks doing the Haka dance.  I quiver.  Image from Thomas Yau at

The calf muscles include the gastrocnemius soleus, whose name comes from the Greek phrase "stomach of the leg," referring to its bulging shape.  It is the fullest part of the calf, a part that is notoriously hard for body builders to bulk up.  (Some turn to calf implants.)  Soccer players have great calves.

Carlos Bocanegra showing off, calves.  Image from
Last, but certainly not least, let's examine the muscle groups of the arm.

Sebastien Chabal, French rugby player.  Also known as the Caveman.  Check out his arms.  Image from
First off, the biceps is a "two-headed" muscle made up of two bundles, both of which arise on the shoulder blade and join together on the upper forearm.  Its main function is to flex the elbow (flexion) and turn the forearm inward and outward (supination).  Wikipedia explains the two movements this way:

Both these movements are used when opening a bottle with a corkscrew: first biceps unscrews the cork (supination), then it pulls the cork out (flexion).

Tom Hardy and his biceps.  Image from
The triceps muscle, made up of a bundle of three muscles attached to the back of the upper arm, is the antagonist of the biceps.  The triceps is responsible for straightening the arm and steadying the elbow when the forearm and hand are engaged in finer motor movements, e.g., writing.

Stretch those triceps.  Image from

Remember this?  Daniel Craig in Skyfall.  Image from

Last, let's take a look at forearms.  Besides containing the radius and ulna bones, the forearm contains at least two dozen brainy-sounding muscles that are responsible for flexing, pronating (turning downward and inward) and supinating (turning upward and outward).   

Chris Hemsworth, his forearms, and his golden godlike glow.  Image from
Different types of wrist curls seem to strengthen and define forearms.  I tried to do some research on why veins pop out on some men's arms, but I couldn't find anything conclusive.  Different sources stated that after a workout, the muscles in the arms get bigger, thus pushing the veins against the surface of the skin.  But then there were lots of other sources that said heat, body temperature, and smoking all had to do with the whole "vein popping out" phenomenon that looks so...alluring.  I decided to leave it at that since serious medical research is rarely more fun that just looking at pictures of men with nice forearms.

Jeremy Renner has excellent forearms.  Image from

Ending with a classic.  Bruce Lee.  Image from

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