Summary: The pioneering “soleus pushup” raises muscle metabolism for hours, even while sitting.

Source: University of Houston

From the same mind that came up with the concept that “too much sitting is not the same as too little exercise” came a breakthrough designed to turn a sedentary lifestyle on its head: the sole muscle in the calf, but 1% of your body weight if properly trained, can increase the metabolism of the rest of your body. It can do a lot to improve.

And Mark Hamilton, a professor of health and human performance at the University of Houston, has found such a method for better activation – he pioneered the soleus pushup (SPU), which raises muscle metabolism for hours even while sitting. One of the 600 muscles in the human body, the soleus is a rear leg muscle that runs from just below the knee to the heel.

It was published in the magazine iScience, According to Hamilton’s research, Soleus Pushup’s ability to maintain elevated oxidative metabolism is more effective than any of the currently popular methods of improving blood glucose regulation, including exercise, weight loss, and intermittent fasting. Oxidative metabolism is the process by which oxygen is used to burn metabolites such as blood glucose or fat, but in part, it depends on the immediate energy needs of the muscle when it is working.

“We did not believe that this muscle had such potential. It’s been all over our bodies, but no one has really explored how we can use it to improve our health, until now,” Hamilton said. “When the soleus muscle is properly activated, it increases local oxidative metabolism to a higher level for hours, not minutes, and does so using a specific fuel mix.”

Muscle biopsies show a minimal contribution of glycogen to fuel the soleus. Instead of breaking down glycogen, the soleus can use other forms of fuel, such as blood glucose and fat. Glycogen is the main form of carbohydrate that normally fuels muscle activity.

“The soleus is less dependent on glycogen than usual, which helps it to work for several hours without getting tired in this type of muscle activity because it has a certain limit of muscle endurance caused by glycogen depletion,” he said. “As far as we know, this is the first concerted effort to develop a unique contractile activity focused on optimizing human metabolic processes.

When SPU was tested, the whole-body effect on blood chemistry included a 52% improvement in blood glucose (sugar) excursions and a 60% lower insulin requirement three hours after drinking a glucose drink.

The new method of maintaining soleus muscle metabolism in patients is also effective in lowering blood fat levels (VLDL triglyceride) by doubling the normal rate of fat metabolism during the fasting period between meals.

The Soleus Pushup

Through years of research, Hamilton and his colleagues developed the soleus push-up, which activates the soleus muscle differently than standing or walking. SPU targets the soleus to increase oxygen consumption – more than is possible with these other solitary activities, plus it resists fatigue.

This shows the researcher and the woman on the respirator
Mark Hamilton, a professor of health and human performance at the University of Houston, pioneered the soleus pushup, a calf muscle that’s only 1% of your body weight, but when activated, improves metabolic health throughout the rest of your body. Exactly. Credit: University of Houston

So, how to perform a solo pushup?

Briefly, with the feet flat on the floor and the muscles relaxed, the heel lifts as the front of the foot sits. When the heel reaches the top of the movement, the foot releases instinctively to return down. The goal is to simultaneously shorten the calf muscles while the soleus is naturally activated by the motor nerves.

Although the SPU movement may look like walking (although it is done while sitting), it is quite the opposite, the researchers say. It is designed to reduce the amount of energy the body uses when walking, because of how the soleus moves. Hamilton’s method is upside down and causes the soleus to use as much force as possible.

“The soleus push-up looks simple on the outside, but sometimes it’s not the whole story that we see with the naked eye. “It’s a very different activity that requires wearable technology and experience today to improve its health benefits,” Hamilton said.

More publications have focused on how to teach people to learn this single activity correctly, but without the sophisticated laboratory equipment used in this latest study.

Credit: University of Houston

The researchers are quick to point out that this isn’t some new fitness tip or diet of the month. It is a physiological activity with great potential on the unique properties of the soleus.

It can be the first step to the discovery of health care

Hamilton called it the “most important study” ever completed at the Metabolic Innovation Lab at UH, and said the discovery could be a solution to a variety of health problems caused by spending hours every day, often caused by too little physical activity. . The average American sits for about 10 hours a day.

Regardless of a person’s physical activity level, too much sitting increases the risk of heart disease, diabetes, dementia, and more. More than half of all American adults and 80% of people over the age of 65 live with diabetes or pre-diabetes.

Having a low metabolic rate while sitting puts people at particularly high risk for age-related conditions such as metabolic syndrome and type 2 diabetes.

Inactive muscles require less energy than most people realize, Hamilton said, “one of the most fundamental but neglected aspects” of finding metabolic solutions to prevent age-related chronic diseases.

watch out

This shows a sad girl sitting on a ship.

“All 600 muscles together contribute only about 15% of the body’s total oxidative metabolism in the three hours following carbohydrate ingestion. Although the soleus is only 1% of body weight, during SPU contractions the metabolism can easily double, sometimes triple, its size.

We know of no existing or promising pharmaceuticals that come close to increasing and maintaining whole-body oxidative metabolism at this rate.

So metabolic research news

Author: Laurie Fickman
Source: University of Houston
Contact: Laurie Fickman – University of Houston
Image: Image is credited to the University of Houston.

Preliminary study: Open Access.
A powerful physiological mechanism to enhance and maintain soleus oxidative metabolism improves glucose and lipid regulation.” by Mark Hamilton et al iScience


A powerful physiological mechanism to enhance and maintain soleus oxidative metabolism improves glucose and lipid regulation.

Slow oxidative muscle, particularly the soleus, is inherently equipped with molecular machinery to regulate blood flow.

However, despite being the body’s largest mass of lean tissue, the entire human musculature accounts for only 15% of glucose oxidative metabolism at rest for energy expenditure.

We found that solitary exercise of the human soleus muscle while seated can increase local oxidative metabolism to maximal levels for hours without fatigue, even in unfit volunteers. Muscle biopsies revealed minimal glycogen utilization.

Enhanced systemic VLDL-triglyceride and glucose homeostasis by independent contractions, eg, 52% lower postprandial glucose excursion (~50 mg/dL less between 1 and 2 hours) with 60% less hyperinsulinemia. .

Targeting small amounts of oxidative muscle (~1% of body weight) with local contractile activity is a powerful method to improve systemic metabolic control by extending the benefits of oxidative metabolism.

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