Have you ever been curious about which muscle is the fastest or strongest muscle in the body? Before we answer these questions, we must first define the three different types of muscles in our bodies: cardiac, smooth and skeletal.

Cardiac muscle makes up the wall of the heart and causes the heart to pump — pumping at least 2,500 gallons of blood every day — making it the hardest working muscle in the body.

Smooth muscles are involuntary muscles in the walls of internal organs and structures such as the stomach, intestines, uterus and the internal muscles of the eye. Skeletal muscles are voluntary muscles that move our limbs and other body parts. Now we can discuss the fastest, strongest and largest muscles.

First, the fastest — the external eye muscles. They may seem involuntary, but they are done without conscious effort and must constantly move to readjust to maintain a steady fixation point. Considering our eyes can make about 10,000 movements during an hour of reading (Optometry Zone), they can fatigue easily.

Even though I do not like to admit it, the largest muscle in the body is the gluteus maximus — yes our bottoms. This large, powerful muscle is responsible for keeping our torso up right and helps us walk up stairs and climb hills.

Our strongest muscle is the masseter, which closes the jaw to chew. When chewing, the force can be upwards of 170 pounds on each molar (“The Power of the Human Jaw,” Scientific American).

There is an additional category worth mentioning that you will not find in any textbook. It is incredibly strong, fast and is in a new category, sharp. It is your tongue.

Obviously, the tongue works hard all day talking, eating and swallowing, but it can do so much more. This one muscle can build you up and tear you down, and can do the same to others. When we can’t keep our tongue controlled, it can completely change our mindset.

When we speak positively, our mental strength grows exponentially. For example, telling ourselves or others how hard we worked in a spin class or on a project at work, it motivates us to keep moving forward. If we take our comments in the opposite direction, it can destroy any progress and may even push us backward.

So the next time you are working your muscles, whether the largest, strongest or fastest, remember the sharpest one can have the most influence on you, making the tongue the most powerful muscle in your body.

Sherrie Hebert is a certified Personal Trainer and Pilates mat and equipment Instructor. She teaches and trains at Gold’s Gym of Pocatello and owns Performance Pilates & Personal Training. Contact her at 208-478-2433 or sherriehebert@gmail.com for all your fitness needs. Be sure to visit her Facebook page, PerformancePilatesAndPT.