The Most Popular Sports in the World and What Muscles They Work Out

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If you participate in any sport, it’s likely that it’s one of the following ten. Soccer, basketball, tennis, cricket, volleyball, American football, table tennis, rugby, baseball, or golf. Being as these are the ten most popular sports in the world, if you chose a random athlete anywhere in the world, they are likely to play one of these. It’s not to say that other sports aren’t as great or anything like that, but people from all walks of life seem to enjoy playing and watching these games the most. That’s why today, for each of the top ten most popular sports in the world, we’ll see what makes them so attractive and what muscle groups they work out when you play. Hopefully, this will motivate some people to get outside and work out to tone those muscles! Let’s continue.

1. Soccer

Popularity: Topping out our list is soccer hands down, or referred to as “football” almost everywhere else in the world. Although it has the most followers in Europe, it’s virtually played and watched everywhere including Japan and the US. The World Cup is the most watched sports competition in the world, with the FIFA World Cup 2014 viewed by nearly 4 billion people.

Muscles It Works Out: Mostly leg and thigh muscles, although it also works out the core, glute, hips, and upper body

2. Basketball

Popularity: Basketball is by far one of the fastest growing sports in the world. With 2-3 billion fans mostly in the US, China, Philippines, Japan, and Canada, it’s still growing in popularity in other parts of the world.

Muscles It Works Out: Calves, Glutes, thighs, upper body, and core

3. Cricket

Popularity: Cricket is enjoyed mostly in India, the UK, Pakistan, Asia, and Australia, although it’s spreading its influence to other countries fast. There’s estimated to be anywhere from 2 to 3 billion fans in the world, with the Cricket World Cup 2015 being watched by around 2.2 billion people.

Muscles It Works Out: Upper body, arms, hips, glutes, core, and calves

4. Tennis

Popularity: There are around 1 billion fans of tennis, mostly spread across Asia, America, and Europe. Nearly 400 million fans tune into the major tennis competitions every time tennis season rolls around the corner.

Muscles It Works Out: Legs, glutes, calves, quads, lower back, core, chest, shoulders, and arms

5. Volleyball

Popularity: There are around 900 million fans of volleyball across Asia, Europe, the US, and Australia. Although it’s mostly watched on TV for major competitions and the Olympics, it’s still widely played everywhere.

Muscles It Works Out: Ankles, hips, knees, shoulders, forearms, elbows, wrists, and lower body

6. Table Tennis

Popularity: Also known as ping pong, table tennis is a widely played sport mostly in Asia, Europe, Africa, and the US. With about 900 million fans, it’s also one of the most casually played sports, often considered a hobby by many.

Muscles It Works Out: Core, hips, lower back, hands, arms, calves, quads, feet, and hamstrings

7. Rugby

Popularity: Rugby used to be higher on this list but has been slowly losing popularity. Still, it’s in the top ten and is enjoyed by many. There are estimated to be around 400 million fans mainly from France, the United Kingdom, Australia, New Zealand, and South Africa.

Muscles It Works Out: Back, shoulders, abdominals, chest, quads, legs, and arms.

8. Baseball

Popularity: There are about 500 million baseball fans in the US, Japan, Cuba, South Korea, Canada, and the Dominican Republic. US and Japan especially love baseball

Muscles It Works Out: Lower abdominals, upper abdominals, back legs, calves, thighs, forearms, wrists, and shoulders

9. Golf

Popularity: With close to 400 million fans in the US, Japan, Korea, the UK, Europe, and Canada, golf is enjoyed mostly by the upper class and doesn’t require much physical intensity. This means it can be played by most if not all people.

Muscles It Works Out: Core, hamstrings, glutes, back, hips, legs, and arms

10. American Football

Popularity: As the name suggests, American football is highly popular in the United States. As such, it’s known as just “football” in the US, taking priority over soccer “football” whereas other countries refer to it as the gridiron. There are around 350-390 million American football fans, most of which are from the US.

Muscles It Works Out: Glutes, quads, hamstrings, chest, shoulders, abs, obliques, lower back, forearm, biceps, and triceps



Peter Huang