There are a lot of callouts of "This is BS" in regards to this article.

Look at it from a different perspective. I would HIGHLY prefer this to a short press release blurb that allows pop-science clickbait aggregators (or even worse, the "science" sections of CBS/CNN and the like) to have first crack at it.

This was produced by the university themselves, and provides a concise yet accurate and detailed overview of the biochemistry involved, as well as a nice short embedded youtube video demonstrating the movement in question and going over the main points of the research.

Yes, improvements could be made, and yes, follow up studies will need to be performed. But this is head and shoulders above the "ONE SMALL TRICK, DIETICIANS HATE HIM" alternative we would have gotten otherwise.

For all the comments wondering what the particular movement and equipment is, see pages 5 and 6 of the supplementary materials: https://ars.els-cdn.com/content/image/1-s2.0-S25890042220114... The equipment is an electromyography system with realtime display. It measures the muscle contraction and is displayed to the subject so they can learn to recognize the movement that properly activates the muscle. Contrary to the video, you do not need to be an academic to buy one, they're fairly common in high-end sports coaching/rehab and you can find a cheap arduino-compatible system on Amazon if you want to DIY.

If you don't read much exercise science, it's worth noting the paper says "It is important to note that volunteers in Experiment I (Table S1) were typically sedentary (verified with an objective tracking device), and none of them had a high aerobic cardiorespiratory fitness (determined by treadmill VO2max or the maximal oxygen consumption test)." A common pitfall of exercise science is that almost anything works wonderfully on untrained sedentary subjects. Wait for replication.

> Instead of breaking down glycogen, the soleus can use other types of fuels such as blood glucose and fats. Glycogen is normally the predominant type of carbohydrate that fuels muscular exercise.

> When the SPU was tested, the whole-body effects on blood chemistry included a 52% improvement in the excursion of blood glucose (sugar) and 60% less insulin requirement over three hours after ingesting a glucose drink.

That's amazing if it is true.

I'm curious if this is the same muscle that causes Charlie Horses. I can activate it on its own without moving my leg and can hold it in tension for a long time but if you flex it too hard it knots and is quite painful.

The way that I can flex it:

Lie on your back on the floor with your heels on a couch, knees approx 90 degrees

Tip/rotate your foot forward and you'll feel a large muscle engage

Try and flex that muscle like you would your bicep or pectorals. You'll find that you can hold it for quite some time.

Edit: I managed to hold it for a few minutes and it's a very odd feeling afterwards. Almost like I had done a bunch of stairs with no cardio.

Edit 2: Standing afterwards wasn't fun - I had to stretch my calves out to walk normally.

The "Strengthening Exercises" for the soleus muscle would be a way to target it? Unless it needs a specific interval to get it into some sort of oxygen deficit or something?

(From the linked page[1])

Some exercises to strengthen your soleus may include:

* Bent knee plantar flexion with a resistance band

* Bent knee heel raises (as per the Alfredson protocol[2])

* Seated calf raises

Again, the bent knee position keeps your calf on slack and focus the workload on the soleus muscles of your lower legs.

[1] https://www.verywellhealth.com/soleus-muscle-anatomy-4684082....

[2] Alfredson Protocol: https://www.verywellhealth.com/the-alfredson-protocol-for-ac...

> Additional publications are in the works focused on how to instruct people to properly learn this singular movement, but without the sophisticated laboratory equipment used in this latest study.

Since everyone’s harping on the previous paragraph and saying “they’re just trying to sell us stuff!!” I figured I should put this quote in a top-level comment as an anti-inflammatory aid.

I'm a former journalist, and I'd like to touch on some of the comments about how this article reads like a dubious infomercial, with a lot of outsized claims that are setting off people's B.S. detectors.

They set off mine, as well.

But you have to remember that this is not a news article. It is not written by someone with any degree of expertise in the subject matter. Rather, it's written by a member of the media-relations department at the university. The only source for the piece appears to be Marc Hamilton, a professor at the university.

So what you're likely perceiving is the author trying to hype up something that is inherently pretty boring and technical, and it comes off as B.S.

Tidbits from Wiki explaining this from another angle. It seems like slow fibers burn fat better than fast fibers, which makes sense.

"The action of the calf muscles, including the soleus, is plantarflexion of the foot (that is, they increase the angle between the foot and the leg). They are powerful muscles and are vital in walking, running, and keeping balance. The soleus specifically plays an important role in maintaining standing posture; if not for its constant pull, the body would fall forward.

Also, in upright posture, the soleus is responsible for pumping venous blood back into the heart from the periphery, and is often called the skeletal-muscle pump, peripheral heart or the sural (tricipital) pump.

Soleus muscles have a higher proportion of slow muscle fibers than many other muscles. In some animals, such as the guinea pig and cat, soleus consists of 100% slow muscle fibers. Human soleus fiber composition is quite variable, containing between 60 and 100% slow fibers.

The soleus is the most effective muscle for plantarflexion in a bent knee position (Hence called the first gear muscle). This is because the gastrocnemius originates on the femur, so bending the leg limits its effective tension. During regular movement (i.e., walking) the soleus is the primary muscle utilized for plantarflexion due to the slowtwitch fibers resisting fatigue."


  “We never dreamed that this muscle has this type of capacity. It's been inside our bodies all along, but no one ever investigated how to use it to optimize our health, until now,” said Hamilton. “When activated correctly, the soleus muscle can raise local oxidative metabolism to high levels for hours, not just minutes, and does so by using a different fuel mixture.”
I'm can't evaluate the claims, but this kind of language makes me suspicious. Is this some whole new phenomenon or are there existing, known effects that this somehow parallels?
> Hamilton’s research suggests the soleus pushup’s ability to sustain an elevated oxidative metabolism to improve the regulation of blood glucose is more effective than any popular methods currently touted as a solution including exercise, weight loss and intermittent fasting.

I want to believe in this idea, but all I can say is that's quite a claim.

I could believe that it's more effective at glucose regulation than exercise, but to say that it's more effective than weight loss seems peculiar because loss of fat mass (which I'm assuming is what is meant by weight loss) is a result of downregulating how much glucose and fat (insuling being present in response to glucose) can enter cells. Maybe there's a logic to that statement, but it seems to be comparing a cause to an effect. Presumably, if the soleus pushup lives up to its name, it would have a negative effect on fat mass. If blood glucose was poorly regulated, absent a failure to produce enough insulin, fat loss would be a sign of better blood glucose regulation.

> The new approach of keeping the soleus muscle metabolism humming is also effective at doubling the normal rate of fat metabolism in the fasting period between meals, reducing the levels of fat in the blood (VLDL triglyceride).

̶I̶'̶m̶ ̶s̶u̶r̶e̶ ̶t̶h̶a̶t̶ ̶m̶y̶ ̶c̶o̶n̶f̶u̶s̶i̶n̶g̶ ̶h̶e̶r̶e̶ ̶i̶s̶ ̶a̶ ̶r̶e̶s̶u̶l̶t̶ ̶o̶f̶ ̶i̶g̶n̶o̶r̶a̶n̶c̶e̶,̶ ̶b̶u̶t̶ ̶n̶o̶t̶ ̶a̶l̶l̶ ̶f̶a̶t̶ ̶m̶e̶t̶a̶b̶o̶l̶i̶s̶m̶ ̶i̶s̶ ̶p̶r̶o̶x̶i̶m̶a̶l̶ ̶t̶o̶ ̶w̶h̶e̶r̶e̶ ̶i̶t̶'̶s̶ ̶s̶t̶o̶r̶e̶d̶,̶ ̶s̶o̶ ̶I̶ ̶w̶o̶u̶l̶d̶ ̶n̶o̶t̶ ̶e̶x̶p̶e̶c̶t̶ ̶V̶L̶D̶L̶ ̶t̶o̶ ̶b̶e̶ ̶r̶e̶d̶u̶c̶e̶d̶,̶ ̶b̶u̶t̶ ̶t̶h̶e̶ ̶o̶p̶p̶o̶s̶i̶t̶e̶.̶ ̶ ̶A̶l̶s̶o̶,̶ ̶f̶a̶t̶ ̶i̶s̶n̶'̶t̶ ̶j̶u̶s̶t̶ ̶t̶r̶a̶n̶s̶p̶o̶r̶t̶e̶d̶ ̶b̶y̶ ̶V̶L̶D̶L̶ ̶b̶u̶t̶ ̶b̶y̶ ̶c̶h̶y̶l̶o̶m̶i̶c̶r̶o̶n̶s̶.̶ ̶ ̶I̶f̶ ̶t̶h̶e̶ ̶f̶a̶t̶ ̶b̶e̶i̶n̶g̶ ̶m̶e̶t̶a̶b̶o̶l̶i̶z̶e̶d̶ ̶i̶s̶n̶'̶t̶ ̶p̶o̶s̶t̶p̶r̶a̶n̶d̶i̶a̶l̶,̶ ̶m̶a̶y̶b̶e̶ ̶i̶t̶'̶s̶ ̶s̶t̶i̶l̶l̶ ̶g̶e̶t̶t̶i̶n̶g̶ ̶t̶r̶a̶n̶s̶p̶o̶r̶t̶e̶d̶ ̶a̶n̶o̶t̶h̶e̶r̶ ̶w̶a̶y̶?̶ ̶ ̶I̶'̶d̶ ̶t̶h̶i̶n̶k̶ ̶i̶t̶ ̶w̶o̶u̶l̶d̶ ̶h̶a̶v̶e̶ ̶t̶o̶ ̶u̶n̶l̶e̶s̶s̶ ̶s̶o̶m̶e̶t̶h̶i̶n̶g̶ ̶s̶p̶e̶c̶i̶a̶l̶ ̶i̶s̶ ̶g̶o̶i̶n̶g̶ ̶o̶n̶.̶

EDIT: Nevermind, I think I had it backwards. Chylomicrons transport dietary fat from the intestine.

And too bad my DIY calorimeter has a broken sensor, because I would love to test myself and see if such an exercise has a measurable effect on RQ.

So if I activate this tiny muscle in my calf for a while my metabolism will be up for hours? And where all that added energy will go? I don't know a thing in this area but I know that when something looks too good to be true, it probably isn't.
As an aside, the web page for this story shows pictures of a study participant seated in front of a big monitor displaying their vitals. I don't know much about study design, but I feel like that would confound results.
Video of the motion: https://youtu.be/yaK6TThRMdE?t=40
Curious if anyone here had additional context around this. Do calf raises have a similar effect? Do people with a habit of bouncing their calves while seated (essentially a soleus pushup as described in the article) have higher metabolisms on average?

It makes sense that a part of a calf muscle could have exceptional endurance, given the importance of walking in humans, but the article seems to say walking doesn't use it enough to activate the same effect. Maybe running?

The article makes some big claims and it would be interesting to see an independent review.

At the end of the video, the researcher says that it's not as simple as just tapping your foot, you need some technology to isolate the motion. Could anyone with a better understanding of anatomy/muscles explain how that works and how they get people to perform this motion?
I don't understand the physical motion. Simply raising the heel whilst sitting?
While seated, place your feet flat on the floor while bending the knees so that the toes go behind the vertical plane of the knees. (Z shaped legs basically)

Place your hand on the back of the upper portion of the calf, right under the knee. Keeping the foot on the floor and the leg in the same Z position, try to "slide" it backwards with as much force as possible but so it doesn't actually slip. You will feel muscle tension with your hand. That's the gastrocnemius muscle. You can probably contract it at will as well, so much that it cramps, that's the one. You don't want to flex it on either side of the calf.

Now lean your body onto your leg (same position) with your elbow on top of the knee. Try to lift your heel up with your weight on top of the knee, while not tensing the gastroc (feeling it using the opposite hand), i.e. avoid trying to move the foot backwards, only lift the heel up. I am pretty sure this loads up the soleus muscle instead, that sits underneath the gastroc. You can feel it tense up if you place the opposite hand around the lower part of the calf, above the ankle, to the sides of where the curve of the gastroc transitions into the achilles tendon.

Now this is pretty difficult to do without putting your weight on top of your leg, but I think after you identify the correct muscle it becomes much easier to do without tools. I had some success by trying to push the floor away with the balls of the feet while raising the heel and monitoring the gastroc with the opposite hand. After you do some of those loaded seated calf raises, the soleus muscle tends to become tense and stays tense for a while, you can feel it especially in the lower calf. This is probably how it eats up so much energy.

Another way to load these muscles is to sit, bend your knees and spread them out while raising the heels, lean forward and place your elbows on your spread knees, shifting some of your weight on top of them. Then try rocking forwards and backwards while moving your heels up and down. Your lower calves will quickly start to burn, but they take a while to truly tire out. Which I guess is the point. :)

I think the soleus helps to pump blood. Flexing the soleus could be improving circulation, which is responsible for some of the allegedly observed effects.

In Japanese there is a saying "ふくらはぎは第二の心臓" (fukurahagi wa, dai-ni no shinzou: the calves are a second heart).

Calf-io-vascular workout? Haha.

The paper says the testing protocol was 50 contractions per minute for 130/270 minutes sessions per day.

Not nothing.

But something that you may integrate into your desk sitting for the day (I'd assume some benefit to even less activity, e.g. 1/2 hour sessions).

There's no way that isolating the soleus is somehow mysterious and out of reach of the common person.

Just tell us what sort of activation is needed - how long should you do the exercise - we can manage to figure out if we're working our soleus.

wonder if drummers (who may activate it more than others) have statistically significant advantage over others with similar sitting down lifestyle and energy output... big claims, great if true!
Eat a _lot_ less. Exercise (even just a little). Don't snack late into the evening. Be hungry, on a consistent and regular basis. Don't over-eat.

No magic, no cost, no special anything.

It's not easy, and most people can't do it, but it works. And even if some magic product helps you lose weight, you will still need to follow the above rules anyways.

It's like many smokers, they can't quit until they almost die, but then they just magically can quit, cause it's life and death. No magic product/idea, just time to make a change.

Sounds amazing at a first glance, but I was hoping to at least see them attempt to describe how the move is performed.

Seems like a trailer for something that needs to be unlocked with money.

Having seen the video, it looks like the natural leg tapping motion literally everyone instinctively does when sitting down.
I think this is going to end up being an overblow over-editorialized headline.

This looks to be an example of NEAT movements, which engage muscles and therefore of course increases energy requirement. The effect of NEAT on energy requirements of a body is fairly well studies and fairly well known. It would have been far more interesting if it lasted for over 4 hours as that would at least in theory pass the 2nd level signaling.

If you are interested in this, I highly recommend Huberman's podcasts such as https://hubermanlab.com/how-to-lose-fat-with-science-based-t...



For people with mobility issues or disability this could be of great benefit if it does what is suggested. I had a work place knee injury which required reconstructive surgery ( not replacement) and am now considered disabled. I also have Fibromyalgia and osteoarthritis. I can not use a treadmill, cycle or do much in the way of weight training. So this has lead to a much more sedatary life....and all that comes with it. I'd be very interested in finding a professional or research project to volunteer as a test subject!
I quickly skinned the article but in a nutshell it seems like the soleus (the main calf muscle) uses more fat and blood glucose than other muscles which primarily use glycogen. Thus using your calves in this specific way can help burn fat.

This kind of makes sense as . It agrees with the theory that humans used persistence hunting to run down game and evolved to be excellent long distance runners. IIRC humans usually have about 2000 to 3000 calories of glycogen in their muscles so being able to rely on fat stores becomes critical for longer distances.


This is just leg bouncing right? Like sitting in a chair and moving your leg up and down? The thing that people yell at you for because it's annoying and rumbles the table and the car and the chairs?

edit: yes it is. it's shown in the first ten seconds of the video.

I had a quick scan through the actual linked article [1] but couldn't find the actual SPU protocol? It seems like there are two variations but no details of the regimen (reps / sets / duration). Admittedly, it was a quick look through -- but I'd be really interested to know the protocol. From the YT video in OP it looks like an easy enough motion to learn.

[1] https://www.cell.com/iscience/fulltext/S2589-0042(22)01141-5...

"It's not as simple as simply doing a heel lift or raising your legs when you're sitting or shaking your leg or fidgeting. It's a very specific movement that's designed where we use some technologies that aren't necessarily available to the public unless you're a scientist and you know how to use it."

This has a bit of a 'smell' that I can't quite put my finger on.

See? Don't skip leg day.
I fidget with my feet all day, ever since I was a kid, looks a lot like this. I wonder if that's why I can pretty much eat what I want without gaining weight and without doing exercise?
So just tap your foot in a weird way and you can keep your metabolism high?
Hmm, weird. I've gained roughly 50 lbs over the course of the pandemic. I've been working from home and often work from the couch, bed, or the dining table. I originally attributed my weight gain to the lack of commute, and I'm sure that's part of it. But when I sit at a proper work desk I do something similar to "soleus pushups" as part of my thinking process. Maybe I should start doing these again.
The article contains a link to a more scholarly article: https://reader.elsevier.com/reader/sd/pii/S2589004222011415?...
Near the end of the actual paper (https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S258900422...) -

"Here we have focused on a method of raising slow oxidative muscle metabolism to complement (not replace) existing approaches."

Maybe less snake oil and more a reasoned hypothesis?

From the article:

So, how do you perform a soleus pushup?

In brief, while seated with feet flat on the floor and muscles relaxed, the heel rises while the front of the foot stays put. When the heel gets to the top of its range of motion, the foot is passively released to come back down. The aim is to simultaneously shorten the calf muscle while the soleus is naturally activated by its motor neurons.

If the muscle can be activated only by specific equipment, how it survived the evolution? Why is it still in our bodies?
May I suggest an alternative (more accurate) headline?

"Sedentary people who do calf raises while sitting for 2 to 4 hours show 50% less blood glucose than those who just sit. "

That's terrible science, a waste of brainpower and clickbait.

Interesting. I wonder if this metabolic response is very important to human long-distance running capability or if it's just one small optimization among many? Small muscles used mostly during extended swimming or climbing might be worth investigation if muscle-activated metabolic modes are more common.
They could have tried a bit harder to not make this sound like "DOCTORS HATE THIS TRICK"
The motion seems like it mimics what skateboarders do with their front foot when they ollie.
> When activated correctly...

Any chance they found that it's the same activation you get from walking but just kind of left that part out?

Edit: Never mind, watched the video. Apparently it's the exact reverse of that internally? Did they test a moonwalk?

This seems very close to the motion of rapid skipping. Once one can skip without jumping like a kangaroo it becomes almost effortless but also gets a good sweat on.
Since in the not too distant past we walked on all fours, wouldn't the analogous muscles in the wrist also have this ability as an atavism? Or did we lose it
Seems hard to do since your gastrocnemius will just take over. Whatever, I'll do random heel lifts anyway. The calves could use some strengthening.
This could be automated via electrical stimulation. A couple of battery-powered boxes strapped to your legs. It could be quite fashionable.
I won't go into the merits of the topic discussed, but the site's design is spectacular. Very impressed, loved it.
So when's the product release to provide specific soleus pushups coming out (as I do my soleus pushups at my desk)?
raises many questions:

- what movements was this evolved to support? (sprinting? walking a different way than was studied? running?)

- Are our shoes causing us to underuse this muscle?

Just from the video and the cadence shown I suspect if you did a slightly quick jog running on your forefoot you might hit that muscle on the rebound.

These claims sound pretty suspect and much more selective journals than iScience have published completely bogus research before. Would like to see this replicated many, many times before anyone starts selling a product whose purported benefits are demonstrated solely from a single research study from a highly conflicted author.
Wonder if this has anything to do with how some people nervously tap their feet
I am always doing soleus pushups to stim for my ADHD and it hasn't kept me from getting fat or tired.
it is 2022 and scientists have discovered fidgeting
I agree with all the other comments about this - the whole thing stinks of a BS infomercial, for very specific reasons:

1. Are people supposed to do this contraction indefinitely while sitting? Good luck with that.

2. Is this only supposed to be done with an e-stim machine to generate the contraction? Again, if so, it may be an interesting curiosity, but it's not practical.

FWIW I wouldn't have such a negative reaction if the whole site and presentation wasn't in "slick bullshit" form, but instead conservatively, and clearly, presented their for findings.

> "Hamilton’s research suggests the soleus pushup [...] is more effective than any popular methods currently touted as a solution [to a sedentary lifestyle] including exercise, weight loss and intermittent fasting."

Better than exercise? LOL.