digdugdirk 14 days ago

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.

  • lock-the-spock 14 days ago

    Exactly. Essentially the trick is not "use this muscle". It rather is "do this specific movement with this muscle. I can describe it quite simply, but to truly learn it you'll need a biofeedback device and you need to know what you're working towards."

    There are a lot of surprising skills that we could learn if we just knew how and put in the effort. See e.g. the blind mountainbikers using echolocation to 'see' the path, or method of loci/other memory techniques.

    • Tenoke 14 days ago

      >I can describe it quite simply, but to truly learn it you'll need a biofeedback device and you need to know what you're working towards.

      I don't know, some gifs from different angles would sure have helped more given our lack of devices (though yes, the video does show one important angle).

      At any rate the complaints aren't so much in the description but in it being yet another simple trick, of which we see thousands and few if any pan out especially to the level claimed here.

    • m463 14 days ago

      Related, back in the 80's I tried a friend's small biofeedback device and learned in a short time how to really relax.

      The device was a galvanic skin response device that looked like a mouse.

      You put your fingers on it and it would make a tone that would decrease in pitch with less muscle tension. I laid down and tried to decrease the tone and I gradually learned where I was holding tension and how to relax. As the tone got deeper I would get closer and closer to falling asleep.

      search for GSR biofeedback on amazon (not affiliated in any way)

  • ZephyrOhm 14 days ago

    My adblocker hid the video. So glad I came here and read your comments. I was looking for a video

  • aatd86 13 days ago

    Shhh... This is a way to people to stop skipping training their calves.

    It's funny how they call it a soleus pushup but this is the basic movement called seated calf raise.

    • ksaj 13 days ago

      It's actually not. The reason he mentioned what's going on on the inside is not what you think is going on by looking from the outside.

      Sit in that same position, and then do a lift part way. At some point, you'll find a "spring" balance, where you can autonomously drum your leg. The muscle that is doing that triggered flex is the only muscle you are focusing on with the Soleus Pushup. Except for the SP, you are triggering it with a pause instead of letting your leg hammer. That rest will allow you to do the move indefinitely without muscle fatigue in that muscle only. It's a bit like your heart beat. Other than the pause, the distance you aim upward for, and the catch (the small bounce right before your heal falls to the ground), the move is way more like this leg drumming than any calf raise, but slower and with rest strokes.

      Incidentally, you can google the paper, which includes graphs of the muscle use. The two main muscles engaged for calf raises are only nominally activated (because it's pretty hard not to flex with this move) but the Soleus is doing way more of the work.

      So visibly it is pretty much identical to a calf raise. But what is driving the motion is totally different. Plus you limit to only 1% of your body weight. That muscle specifically has that spring action the surrounding muscles don't have, and uses nutrients entirely differently in order to be that way.

      After a half-hour of doing this, just like cycling, your body enters a metabolic state, which means that muscle is eating up fats and sugars from your blood at a much higher rate than normally. Then you keep going from there because your Soleus is the one demanding the nutrients.

      • aatd86 11 days ago

        I've looked but it still looks like a seated calf raise (which is an exercise that isolate the soleus).

        Perhaps the ROM is different or it is a quasi-isometric contraction, the paper is not very clear.

pushcx 14 days ago

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.

  • canucker2016 14 days ago

    But sedentary people are the target audience for this exercise.

    Athletes worry about having enough energy during their exercise.

    When many people in developed countries are obese or overweight, every technique helps, especially something for those who don't like to sweat...

    • karmakaze 14 days ago

      > Athletes worry about having enough energy during their exercise.

      Ironically, I'm a sedentary person who doesn't have enough energy to do 10 stations at the gym. If I do back & legs I'm pretty much done for the day.

      While I was reading the article, I realized that my need for optimizing for efficient blood sugar use is different than the many who would rather waste it.

      • T3OU-736 14 days ago

        10 stations seems... excessive.

        (If your goal for exercises is physical therapy or bodybuilding, ignore the rest of this)

        If a given "station" is what I picture it to be, it is likely a station for training a muscle in isolation. example: a station called "preacher's bench" for "bicep curls",l.

        Consider that isolation exercise is, broadly, really useful for two circumstances: bodybuilding, and physical therapy.

        For functional fitness, it is exceedingly rare that the an individual muscle would be the only muscle group engaged.

        So, instead, I would strongly argue that free weights (dumbells, barbells) and the compound (multi-muscle) movements are a better use of time and energy at the gym. https://aasgaardco.com/store/books-posters-dvd/books/startin... and https://aasgaardco.com/store/books-posters-dvd/books/practic... are a good starting point.

        Also Strength Training Anatomy - 3rd Edition by Frederic Delavier - helpful as a reference which stations engage what muscles.

        • ksaj 13 days ago

          That's pretty much exactly what they say in this study. The point is if you are a sedentary couch potato or desk jockey, you can do this to activate a metabolic state. Literally the people who won't use your (good) advice.

          It's why there is so much benefit to riding a cycle for 20-30 minutes before working out. Soleus Pushups done properly won't cause fatigue like the cycle does, yet triggers a long-lasting metabolic state (hours, versus minutes you can expect from short bursts of exercise) in the same amount of time.

      • mancerayder 14 days ago

        View it as training and not exercise.

        You start minimally and slow, far below exertion capacity, rest a few days, and do similar stuff with slightly more intensity (resistance) or volume (number of reps). There's an art/science to it, and barring health handicaps it's essentially a universal system the body evolved to do.

      • jmatthews 14 days ago

        If you do back and legs you should be done for the day. Split your posterior chain. :)

        • collegeburner 14 days ago

          if you do legs you should be done for the day... otherwise not hitting legs hard enough :)

    • ksaj 13 days ago

      Funny enough, they say in a few different ways that while it isn't a very practical exercise, you're just sitting there anyway. So it is not aimed at most athletes.

      Athletes already have strong metabolic responses, except when they plateau, but that's surely not going to happen to a couch potato or desk jockey.

    • tylervigen 14 days ago

      Right but the point is that there may be nothing special about this particular exercise.

      It’s a bit complicated to get the equipment and training to learn how to do this; maybe that effort is better allocated to just encouraging people to get up and go for a walk every once in a while.

      • throw101010 14 days ago

        > maybe that effort is better allocated to just encouraging people to get up and go for a walk every once in a while.

        This method has been used for decades and the results on the obesity rates do not seem to be very good so far. Maybe it's time to try other approaches.

        • rizzom5000 14 days ago

          Clearly the current culture in the US is not healthy, but the reason for healthy scientific and rational skepticism in this case was succinctly laid out in previous comments. It seems to me a tautology to suggest to that going for a walk is less complex than purchasing a specialized device in order to to a specialized exercise in an attempt to fend off obesity (when we already know that walking alone will probably not do any such thing).

          I'm much more optimistic about pharmaceutical approaches to combating the obesity epidemic at this point. The current cultural direction on this may shift at some point however.

          • throw101010 14 days ago

            > It seems to me a tautology to suggest to that going for a walk is less complex than purchasing a specialized device in order to to a specialized exercise in an attempt to fend off obesity (when we already know that walking alone will probably not do any such thing).

            Fair point, and I do agree that pharmaceutical approaches seem more likely to reach more people affected by this problem. My broader point was that the simplistic "just be more active" seem ineffective... and in my experience in some cases even counterproductive, so providing more alternative routes to healthier lifestyles makes sense to me, as complicated as they may seem, maybe they will be more convincing/enticing than what we currently do.

        • eagsalazar2 13 days ago

          The failure is a failure of adherence which is always the root issue with obesity. Walking probably actually does work well too. The relevant question is "which one are people more likely to actually do?" And this does seem promising in that regard.

        • 762236 14 days ago

          Is it about obesity? The technique is about increasing oxidative capacity, which has wonderful benefits. Although it metabolizes fat, that doesn't mean it needs to lower weight to gain benefits.

      • collegeburner 13 days ago

        walks don't burn that many calories man. America has a calories-in problem not a calories-out one anyway.

        • wonnor 13 days ago

          How could walking possibly burn fewer calories per unit time than a tiny leg movement?

          • collegeburner 13 days ago

            sounds like the theory is that keeping it going over a long period of time keeps the metabolism up vs a short walk? tbh I'm skeptical, but my point is more that "go for a walk" isn't really the answer for weight loss. serious cardio (hiit appears to work well from last time i looked at literature) and some heavy lifting work way better, but it's still mostly a "calories in" problem.

  • collegeburner 14 days ago

    if y'all want a little broscience: the soleus may be a good choice because advice is generally that it's best worked with sitting vs. standing calf raises. so kinda interesting that they came to this muscle in particular.

swamp40 14 days ago

> 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.

  • bluGill 14 days ago

    Most muscles can use a variety of energy sources. Cells have had to deal with famine and seasons since long before humans, and so needed ways to use whatever energy is available. Sugar is by far the easiest to use for energy, but fats are used as well.

    • KellyC727 12 days ago

      Yes, but the article is pointing out that without being in a state of famine or other known state when muscles have no alternative but to other fuels, the soleus uses other fuels.

  • debacle 14 days ago

    Not a biologist, but I would wonder why only this muscle would be capable of this. Metabolizing fats is a complex process.

    • cowmoo728 14 days ago

      All muscles are capable of metabolizing fat. In cycling (and other endurance sports), one of the adaptations observed in top athletes is that their muscles become highly efficient at metabolizing fat during medium-intensity exercise. A professional endurance athlete will metabolize about 70% fat, 30% carbs for the majority of a multi-hour event. This preserves their muscle glycogen for the high-intensity bits where they need to push 400+ watts for 20-30 minutes up a final climb, or do a 1200w sprint to the finish line. When the intensity level exceeds a threshold, the muscle will begin switching to nearly 100% glycogen. Once that glycogen is depleted, muscles lose their top-end peak power output.

      Sedentary overweight people tend to become very inefficient at metabolizing fat. At anything higher than a slow walking pace, for example, they will begin the cutover to glycogen and turn down fat metabolism.

      I believe the press release is saying that the soleus muscle is unique in that it does not have a readily accessible store of glycogen. So even in sedentary people that are normally extremely inefficient at metabolizing fat, exercising the soleus will force their body to metabolize blood glucose and fat. Normally it takes months or even years of slow and steady exercise to make a sedentary overweight person effectively metabolize fat while exercising at an intensity high enough to trigger serious metabolic improvements. So if true, the soleus muscle would be a magic shortcut to this process.

      • jaggs 14 days ago

        "Sedentary overweight people tend to become very inefficient at metabolizing fat. At anything higher than a slow walking pace, for example, they will begin the cutover to glycogen and turn down fat metabolism."

        Hm...very interesting. So is there an ideal protocol for fat mobilization in sedentary people? Asking for a friend.

        • kiba 13 days ago

          From what I read, lot and lot of zone 2 training.

          • jaggs 13 days ago

            Ahh, thanks. Now off to research. For my friend.

      • mmastrac 14 days ago

        In this case, is the body releasing actual fat into the bloodstream for use by the muscles, rather than the fat stores burning fat directly for ATP?

        • cowmoo728 14 days ago

          Yes, fatty acids are bound up in TriAcylGlycerol (TAG). Exercise triggers the breakdown of TAG in fat reserves, sending fatty acids into the blood. These fatty acids go through a pretty complicated process to be delivered into a muscle cell, and then into the muscle cell mitochondria. This transport process cannot keep up with energy expenditure during intense exercise, thus the cutover to stored muscle glycogen (and at even higher peak loads under about 10 seconds, creatine phosphate).

          Sedentary people lose the ability to rapidly deliver fat into muscle cell mitochondria.

          This is a good summary of the current state of the research.

          https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5766985/

          • robbintt 14 days ago

            What is meant by intense exercise? For example, vigorous cardio (age dependent but about hr 150 bpm) is one familiar benchmark, but is this considered intense exercise?

      • KellyC727 12 days ago

        Yes, muscles can use fat but only when forced to do so bc the primary fuel source is no longer available. This article is showing that even while the muscles and liver have glycogen and glucose is available, the soleus chooses to use fat. This is huge if it’s true!

      • robbintt 14 days ago

        Is there a place I can read about exercise metabolism like this?

    • porpoisemonkey 14 days ago

      Also not a biologist - just an enthusiastic layman.

      The Soleus muscle (Soleal pump) is partially responsible for helping to return blood from your legs back up to your heart while upright. [1] This is a fairly critical process so it would make sense that it would be able to metabolize multiple energy sources.

      [1] https://www.physio-pedia.com/Soleus

      • kaba0 14 days ago

        If anything, the above article says that the soleus can’t utilize multiple energy sources, it relies mostly on the blood stream (which makes sense for better endurance at running/walking).

        Also, pumping the blood back is a purely mechanical process, the same is true for your arm muscles, I don’t think it has a relevance here — its a very important process that circulates lymph and helps circulate blood.

      • lock-the-spock 14 days ago

        Interesting. And the logical second conclusion is that this is an evolutionarily costly process, otherwise it would be common across our muscles. Maybe the muscle has a higher risk of injury, degeneration, cancer than othe muscles...?

    • swamp40 14 days ago

      Might have something to do with the "need for speed". Running further than your glycogen alone can take you - increases your survival odds.

    • kaba0 14 days ago

      It has more to do with the ratio of “red” vs “white” muscle fibers. Some muscles trade off some power for endurance and vice versa.

      If someone ever tried to train for their biceps they will know how even at the end of the training, the first few repetitions of a set will be “easy”, while afterwards it feels like you can’t move it anymore. It’s because biceps typically operates on its local energy storage, and it is not good at endurance.

    • kiba 14 days ago

      If you do aerobic exercise, you metabolize fat.

      • debacle 14 days ago

        But in a muscle? That seems to be the argument here, unless it's just bad journalism.

mmastrac 14 days ago

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.

  • aendruk 14 days ago

    > Charlie Horse

    I had to look this up. It means leg cramp?

jpollock 14 days ago

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...

  • DoingIsLearning 14 days ago

    > 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?

    They specifically perform a concentric contraction of the soleus _and_ "passive drop" of the heel.

    So without more detail of the paper it's difficult to tell but it seem that the benefit is in performing concentric contractions _without_ eccentric contractions of the soleus.

filoeleven 14 days ago

> 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.

jawns 14 days ago

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.

  • cycomanic 14 days ago

    Very likely it's not the professor hyping it, but the uni communications office. This reads like a typical uni press release. The scientists typically have little influence on it, they typically read the text that there is no factual errors, but they also leave it to the subject experts (the journalists/communicators) to write the text.

skjoldr 14 days ago

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."

version_five 14 days ago

  “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?
  • digdugdirk 14 days ago

    There are people who train their entire bodies to function on different biochemical processes, generally long distance endurance athletes training to perform in a fat adapted state for ultramarathons and the like.

    The research here just seems to suggest that the soleus muscle itself has a lower "barrier to entry" before utilizing different energy sources (blood glucose and fat oxidation) which allows it to sustain activity for a longer time duration. This makes sense, as the soleus is highly involved in walking, and humans basically evolved to walk more than we've evolved to do anything else.

  • soperj 14 days ago

    I wonder if there is some kind of unintended consequences to using that fuel mixture...

    • 762236 14 days ago

      No, we're designed to do it in all of our skeletal muscle

ravenstine 14 days ago

> 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.

  • wrycoder 14 days ago

    I believe that the journal article is freely downloadable[0].

    [0] https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S258900422... (pdf)

    What is this diy calorimeter?

    • ravenstine 14 days ago

      Oh, you're right. For some reason I thought it was requesting I pay.

      A calorimeter in a general sense measures heat transference, calories being a measure of heat.

      More specifically, what I build is an indirect calorimeter which uses respiratory gas analysis to not only measure human energy expenditure in calories but make an approximation of the ratio of glucose to fat being utilized. The reason I might fix my calorimeter sooner rather than later is to see whether I can witness greater glucose utilization with the soleus pushup than with other exercises of the similar energy expenditure.

      EDIT: In the paper it states that they used an indirect calorimeter. It's a very cool device to have access to, but I don't recommend anyone build their own like I did. As the paper describes, it's really hard to get right with even the best equipment. Calibration is very difficult and subtle body movements can totally mess with a reading.

      > VO2 and VCO2 production were determined using a TrueOne 2400 metabolic system from Parvo Medics. The gas analyzers and pneumotach were calibrated according to standard manufacturer procedures using certified calibration gases. Sufficient time to flush out the gas lines and average steady state measurements was always confirmed. The measurement period was extended when it was deemed helpful (such as if there was a fluctuation in VO2 caused by a cough or when taking additional time to confirm the precision of the result). We were careful to ensure participants were positioned when sitting completely relaxed to avoid extraneous movement beyond the intended SPU plantarflexion movement. This included positioning the chair back rest and height for each individual to optimize a restful position.

      • wrycoder 14 days ago

        Do you have a link to your technology?

        Why is the indirect method so sensitive to extraneous movement? More so than just reflecting the additional energy expenditure?

        • ravenstine 14 days ago

          > Do you have a link to your technology?

          I don't, unfortunately. I did plan on publishing something about it, but life got in the way. Maybe you'll see me post something about it on HN one day.

          In summary, there's nothing really groundbreaking about what I did other than I made it smaller and more portable than most existing indirect calorimeters. I made a circuit board with some sensors and an Arduino Nano mounted on it. The outer shell was designed with OpenSCAD and 3D printed. It was designed so it could be worn on a facepiece (in my case, a modified 3M respirator).

          > Why is the indirect method so sensitive to extraneous movement?

          Anything movement made is a result of metabolic activity. I was surprised to see drastic changes in RQ (respiratory quotient) just by getting up out of my chair and walking to the bathroom. It can take time for reading to stabilize. One reason is that even the best CO2 sensors have a slow response time in contrast to O2 sensors. There's enough lag that a change in activity can ruin a large section of a test, in particular if you're anticipating delayed metabolic activity. Also, it takes the body some time to eliminate CO2 after any amount of exercise. After movement, especially something like steady state cardio, this causes the RQ to jump up for ~3 to 5 minutes before it drops down.

          One thing that research grade ICs do to mitigate this is to use a mixing chamber with a sampling pump to try and smooth out and normalize readings over a window of time. My approach was to literally just have my breath blow over the sensors with valves only allowing air to move in one direction, which is simpler and allows for readings to be a bit closer to real-time. It's also considered more problematic than other approaches like the mixing chamber.

          Oh yeah, there's also this thing with lactic acid buffering that can cause some extra CO2 production but isn't necessarily considered metabolic activity.

          Then there's the problem of leaks in the system, which are more likely to occur when the subject is moving. Even a little air leak can create anomalies, and you don't always know when they occur.

          There's a lot of confounding factors, and I'm sure I'm forgetting some. Unless an indirect calorimeter has been designed by a company specifically for variable movement, you can assume that the only way to get reliably results is to make sure that the metabolic activity remains consistent for the duration of a test. That means either the subject lies still and doesn't move at all or they're performing something like cardio at a steady pace. If you look up protocols for conducting IC, you'll notice they're very strict.

          > More so than just reflecting the additional energy expenditure?

          Energy expenditure is thrown off but actually much less so because it is more closely tied to oxygen consumption than RQ, which is more closely related to the volume of CO2 produced. Since oxygen sensors respond fast and the body doesn't do weird things with oxygen like buffer it, EE isn't affected as badly. But if you want to measure how much carbohydrate to fat is being utilized, then any disruption can cause confusing results.

          Indirect Calorimetry is very difficult to get right, but it's used because the alternative, direct calorimetry, is usually impractical. Direct calorimetry of a human being involves placing the subject in a room with a water jacket and measuring the difference in temperature after the subject has radiated heat away from their body. It avoids the confounding factors of IC, but you can't measure RQ that way and it's not really practical as I've said outside of financed research.

          • wrycoder 14 days ago

            Thank you for that explanation!

cardosof 14 days ago

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.

  • jonnycomputer 13 days ago

    Info is in paper and supplementals, but in short, the protocol was that participants did the spu's for either 130 or 270 minutes each day, with 50 contractions a minute. It's a work out.

  • zaven 14 days ago

    No I think what they’re saying is if you do this exercise for hours while seated, you will have the increased metabolism and its benefits the whole time without getting tired.

  • lostlogin 14 days ago

    > when something looks too good to be true, it probably isn't.

    Is that a typo or are you a very lucky individual?

    • tsimionescu 14 days ago

      I think they mean, when something looks too good to be true, it probably isn't [true] (though that's not how the phrase is normally used, of course).

    • Tao3300 14 days ago

      It's definitely one of those phrases that makes more sense spoken aloud.

  • ericmcer 13 days ago

    Maybe you just have elevated mood and energy levels for a few hours? One of the nasty parts of dieting is that you can cut calories and not lose weight, just have less energy and feel worse. Probably not as relevant if your obese but cutting calories leads to some other effects than weight loss when your already lean.

    Conversely if your weight is stable you might be able to add 500 calories with no ill effects, just more energy, faster recovery etc. It would be great if it was just formulaic like your post implies but it isn’t.

  • skjoldr 14 days ago

    Heat, obviously. Thermogenesis.

neilknowsbest 14 days ago

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.

  • thebeardisred 14 days ago

    It looked to me as if it was a biofeedback system for the purpose of aiding the individual in isolating the correct muscle movement(s).

swamp40 14 days ago
  • kenjackson 14 days ago

    It looks like fidgeting, but what you can't tell is if the muscle is exerting on the eccentric or what the intensity is. In any case, I'm going back to fidgeting for the afternoon.

lend000 14 days ago

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.

  • digdugdirk 14 days ago

    Not sure about the specific differences in glucose utilization between the soleus and the gasctroc (the other main calf muscle) but in general, yes. Calf raises should have a similar effect. The key factor seems to be the soleus doesn't fatigue as quickly, allowing this to be sustained to a point where the muscle energy source shifts to a more long term type of fuel.

    As for people who bounce their calves? Absolutely - this is called NEAT (Non Exercise Activity Thermogenesis) in scientific research. Its lumped in with general movement - walking, climbing stairs, etc. This can account for a few hundred calories per day. Here's an overview study that claims up to 350 calories per day: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6058072/

  • urubu 14 days ago

    Standing calf raises train the gastrocnemius and the soleus. Many gyms also have a seated calf raise machine which is meant to isolate the soleus.

    I don't think I ever felt anything special after using it.

    • digdugdirk 14 days ago

      You'd know if you had isolated the soleus. It feels weirdly (but noticeably) different to activating the gastroc. Much deeper and more centralized.

  • notyourday 14 days ago

    > Do calf raises have a similar effect?

    Unlikely as untrained person would have a very hard time doing 50 calf raises

elil17 14 days ago

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?

  • ilaksh 14 days ago

    First, they get the university to publish an article making their claim seem credible.

    They then get an investor to give them $300,000 and make a custom order with a factory in China to add another piece of plastic and some branding to an existing device.

    They wait 3 months and then receive 30,000 "magic" gizmos in the mail.

    Then, they sell people a $250 electric muscle stimulator that you wear while sitting.

    Then they buy a really big new house. They live in a city in the United States though so after taxes and paying a few other people off, it barely even qualifies as a mansion.

    Probably aiming for something like this one https://www.zillow.com/homedetails/6503-Edloe-St-Houston-TX-... which is very nice, but his country club friends who are really rich will compare it to their guest houses.

    Fortunately they are almost done with the $59.99 app that tracks how much fat you are supposedly burning while you sit there for hours and your calfs twitch.

    I think this will sell very, very well. People are incredibly lazy and want to believe that not only do they not need to get off their fat ass, they don't need to move anything other than their feet and legs a few inches. Not only that, they don't even need the willpower to move on their own, and in fact it only works if they plug in to a device that does everything for them. Lol.

    • tiagod 14 days ago

      You spent all this time writing a comment calling out this study as a fraud appealing to lazy people, but it seems you were too lazy to read the article and truly understand the device's role...

      • ilaksh 14 days ago

        I read it. Looks like a bunch of BS.

    • yread 14 days ago

      This is very mean! But I did laugh out loud, thank you

  • lock-the-spock 14 days ago

    If appears to be a biofeedback device, to help the individual learn the precise motion, rather than just "do something that looks like it".

ibrahimsow1 14 days ago

I don't understand the physical motion. Simply raising the heel whilst sitting?

  • lapetitejort 14 days ago

    I think it's more complicated based on the article:

    > "...It’s a very specific movement that right now requires wearable technology and experience to optimize the health benefits.”

    So it sounds like the performer may have to look at a graph to see that the right motion has been achieved? This video reinforces the notion: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yaK6TThRMdE

  • kentlyons 14 days ago

    I went looking at the published paper (https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S258900422...) and it says on pg3: "this specific type of plantarflexion because the relatively high soleus electromyography (EMG) on-time (i.e., soleus activation) coincided with upward angular motion of the ankle". The supplementary materials show EMG and range of motion graphs.

    A bit of googling says plantar flexion is the same muscle movement needed for pushing the accelerator pedal while driving or ballet dancers standing on their toes.

    My guess (not my field of expertise) is the muscle is activated strongly in isolation (the toe pushing down motion) and inducing a large range of motion. So it's not raising the heel so much as pushing the toe down.

  • grahamplace 14 days ago

    From the article:

    > 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.

skjoldr 14 days ago

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. :)

  • jaggs 14 days ago

    Video needed. :)

kazinator 14 days ago

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.

  • canadiantim 14 days ago

    A great pun, but the laughing at your own joke is the best!

jonnycomputer 13 days ago

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).

timothylaurent 14 days ago

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.

alliao 14 days ago

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!

  • najarvg 14 days ago

    In a specific study quantifying energy expenditure during rock/pop drumming, it was found to burn enough energy to qualify as a cardio activity (caveat, small sample size) - https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/23559410/

    So there could definitely be come advantage gained by regular rock/pop drummers in comparison with sedentary folks for sure. This assumes of course, that other factors are kept the same (diet, pre-existing health conditions, stress exposure etc) which are incredibly hard to compare in real life settings.

  • ordersofmag 14 days ago

    I'm a runner who's fairly familiar with the difference in sensation between activating the soleus and activating the gastrocnemius (thanks PT). I'm also a drummer and I'm pretty sure most of my pedal-work while drumming is gastrocnemius-centric.

RobertRoberts 14 days ago

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.

pawelduda 14 days ago

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.

  • petesergeant 14 days ago

    > 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.

    • pawelduda 14 days ago

      Fair enough. I'm guilty of skimming the article, but I saw this: "The soleus pushup looks simple from the outside, but sometimes what we see with our naked eye isn't the whole story. It’s a very specific movement that right now requires wearable technology and experience to optimize the health benefits”, and some statements that made it sound like something requiring specific tech not available to the public.

      Thank you, gotta say with that description of the move now it doesn't sound that hard.

      • canucker2016 14 days ago

        from looking at pics of the gastrocnemius muscle (at the back of the lower leg, main portion from the knee, ending about midway down the lower leg, attaches to the achilles tendon) and the soleus muscle (underneath the gastrocnemius, extending from the knee down to the ankle), the gastrocnemius shouldn't activate during the motion.

        It seems like you could put your hand on the back of your calf, close to the knee, and ensure that the gastrocnemius doesn't flex/stays loose during the motion.

gcau 14 days ago

Having seen the video, it looks like the natural leg tapping motion literally everyone instinctively does when sitting down.

  • gcanyon 14 days ago

    I definitely don't do that tapping motion instinctively. Unless I'm actively doing something, I am naturally still. Ten years ago I found out I have Factor V Leiden, which can cause blood clots. Since then I've consciously tried to develop the habit of toe-tapping.

  • andyjsong 14 days ago

    I've been known to pump my leg rapidly like in the video when I'm anxious. Maybe it's an involuntary artifact to "keep the engine running" just in case my flight senses are triggered.

notyourday 14 days ago

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...

and

https://hubermanlab.com/dr-andy-galpin-how-to-build-strength...

annieup 11 days ago

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!

runamok 14 days ago

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.

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Persistence_hunting

spywaregorilla 14 days ago

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.

  • croes 14 days ago

    “The soleus pushup looks simple from the outside, but sometimes what we see with our naked eye isn't the whole story. It’s a very specific movement that right now requires wearable technology and experience to optimize the health benefits”

    • spywaregorilla 14 days ago

      This statement applies to pretty much every form of physical activity though

  • revolvingocelot 14 days ago

    I mean, it's not just leg bouncing in that I can bounce my leg in a way that clearly doesn't activate the soleus in the manner shown in the video.

    But it also is just leg bouncing in that there's no more complicated motion than a certain sort of slow, controlled leg-bounce.

  • ourmandave 14 days ago

    Can I get a health app update on my Apple Watch that tracks my leg bouncing?

    Cause I could break records if I'm in meetings all week.

  • klyrs 14 days ago

    Work from home, nobody will know how much your legs are quaking if your camera isn't mechanically linked to them...

    • spywaregorilla 14 days ago

      I've been called out for shaking my camera resting on the table actually.

      • klyrs 14 days ago

        That counts as mechanical linkage. My camera and monitor are attached to the wall, not my desk, for precisely this reason.

  • twobitshifter 14 days ago

    The article says you need special training and it’s not just fidgeting. I’m not sure what to make of that.

n-e-w 14 days ago

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...

earleybird 14 days ago

"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.

  • digdugdirk 14 days ago

    The actual quote from the article - “The soleus pushup looks simple from the outside, but sometimes what we see with our naked eye isn't the whole story. It’s a very specific movement that right now requires wearable technology and experience to optimize the health benefits,” said Hamilton.

    This is a statement around how to activate the soleus itself, and its an accurate statement for the majority of the population. It's an odd muscle to target, as we're generally more used to using our gastrocnemius muscles when plantar-flexing our ankle joint. Sitting helps target the soleus (which is why you might find a seated calf-raise machine next to a standing calf-raise machine at the gym) but it still requires a strong mind-muscle connection to activate without having the gastrocnemius take over.

    Having some electrodes to measure and display specifically targeted muscle output would help, and this is likely what he's referring to in the article.

    • zmgsabst 14 days ago

      I agree that it would help.

      But I’m pretty sure you can just touch the lower, outer part of your ankle (where it’s documented in the picture) to find out if you’re flexing the right one. Thinking about pointing my toes helped.

      I think people are right the difficulty is oversold.

      • digdugdirk 14 days ago

        The trick with the soleus is that its underneath the gastroc. And in many people's musculoskeletal structures, its entirely underneath the gastroc - meaning your trick won't help. Combine that with some compensatory activation of the gastroc during this movement and people won't be able to effectively train themselves to get the full effect of what the researchers are going for here - prolonged duration soleus activation.

        I'm not saying they couldn't have done a better job explaining how to do this at home, but its a surprisingly difficult thing to explain to someone face-to-face when you're a personal trainer. Let alone when as a scientist when you only get a short blurb to convey information about your latest research study.

  • irrational 14 days ago

    Yes, this press release reads like one of those “I know the secret to weight loss that has been lost since ancient times! Just one payment of $29.99 will get you on the path to your ideal beach body!” But, then I noticed this was from an actual university. Huh. And it doesn’t ask for money. And it basically gives the “secret” in the article. But it definitely has that snake oil smell.

  • tyingq 14 days ago

    Yeah, there's an implied "and if I identify for you the simple way to do this yourself without equipment, my business model goes poof...so I'll just identify two or three things that don't leverage that muscle".

  • petesergeant 14 days ago

    Also: "It’s a very specific movement that right now requires wearable technology and experience to optimize the health benefits"

    Great, sounds patent-able!

  • canucker2016 14 days ago

    Three paragraphs earlier in 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."
    
    I think that gives the reader enough to replicate the Soleus Pushup - perhaps an indication on where the effort/force is to be emphasized/felt would help.

    Looking up "heel lift", the Soleus Pushup reads/sounds a lot like a seated heel lift. see https://www.livestrong.com/article/137423-heel-lift-exercise...

  • dqpb 14 days ago

    They're saying it's difficult to explain how to isolate the muscle. For example, two simple ways to lift only your heel from a sitting position are:

    1. Push down with the ball if you foot

    2. Lift up with your hip/quad

    They look the same, but are completely different. Do either of them activate the Soleus? Do neither of them?

    • digdugdirk 14 days ago

      ^ This.

      Its not snake oil, its a statement from a scientist who attaches musculoskeletal monitoring equipment to people on a regular basis and knows exactly how capable the average person is at activating specific muscles on command.

      • nibbleshifter 14 days ago

        > and knows exactly how capable the average person is at activating specific muscles on command.

        "Basically terrible".

        It took me a really long time to work out what exactly the fuck "activate your core" meant.

        Never mind "activate this muscle you have never thought about before".

    • Someone 14 days ago

      #2 I would call a pull up or lift up, not a push up, so I assume it’s more like #1.

  • canucker2016 14 days ago

    from the YouTube video, you can see the movement (positioned at 6 secs into the video):

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yaK6TThRMdE&t=6s

    Of course, my friend's Chinese grandmother would admonish my friend for doing this movement at the table - evidently she considered the movement to be an indicator for something that shouldn't be mentioned at the dining table.

  • peppertree 14 days ago

    In this house we respect the law of thermodynamics!

  • Melatonic 14 days ago

    They also say though that the end goal is to teach people how to do the movement with no equipment.

    So maybe not so BS

  • NotYourLawyer 14 days ago

    Smells like bullshit garnished with snake oil.

trynewideas 14 days ago

See? Don't skip leg day.

  • Tao3300 14 days ago

    Picturing gym bros with massive, vascular cankles now.

    Soleus? More like swoleus!

  • giarc 14 days ago

    Don't skip ankle day.

speleding 13 days ago

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?

jollyllama 14 days ago

So just tap your foot in a weird way and you can keep your metabolism high?

  • layer8 14 days ago

    “How to lose weight with this one weird trick.”

  • kevin_thibedeau 14 days ago

    Yes. It's just simulated fidgeting which has been demonstrated to burn a meaningful amount of calories.

    • jollyllama 14 days ago

      I'm reminded of those under desk fitness bikes.

  • notyourday 14 days ago

    ... which works as long as one does not consume more calories that the total amount of calories one burns (i.e. is in a caloric deficit). The real issue is that individuals who suffer from excessive weight tend to be in a caloric surplus

    • jollyllama 14 days ago

      It wouldn't be much of a metabolism trick at all if it doesn't work in ketosis or fasting. If you can burn fat, it should still work.

      • notyourday 14 days ago

        > It wouldn't be much of a metabolism trick at all if it doesn't work in ketosis or fasting. If you can burn fat, it should still work.

        Body will always switch to burning mostly fat after a prolonged period of physical activity which studies suggest for moderate level of constant physical activity happens somewhere around 90 minute mark. There are no magic bullets.

        • pessimizer 14 days ago

          > There are no magic bullets.

          How would you know this?

uup 14 days ago

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.

kwhitefoot 14 days ago

The article contains a link to a more scholarly article: https://reader.elsevier.com/reader/sd/pii/S2589004222011415?...

  • hondo77 14 days ago

    In case anyone is wondering:

      "There were in total 25 human volunteers in 2 sequential experiments..."
    
    Broken down, that's 10 in one experiment, 15 in the other. No reason to get too excited with such a small sample size.
    • GordonS 14 days ago

      Surely it depends on the magnitude of the effect?

ravenstine 14 days ago

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.

  • believeme 6 days ago

    I want to know if I need to hold the heels high for certain duration of time or keep moving it up and down? I am confused!

    Appreciate your reply.

mikhailyus 14 days ago

If the muscle can be activated only by specific equipment, how it survived the evolution? Why is it still in our bodies?

  • steve_adams_86 14 days ago

    The muscle is activated constantly during walking and running for example; I once strained mine and it took a long time to heal because it fires so frequently.

    The point here is that it’s non-trivial to activate it on command while sitting. The special equipment is likely meant to activate the muscle for all users on command, making their research far more reliable.

mpcannabrava 11 days ago

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.

t-3 14 days ago

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.

fefe23 14 days ago

They could have tried a bit harder to not make this sound like "DOCTORS HATE THIS TRICK"

wturner 14 days ago

The motion seems like it mimics what skateboarders do with their front foot when they ollie.

  • Tenoke 14 days ago

    The front foot in an ollie tilts and slides outwards and up. It doesn't even face or move the same way as this.

kgwxd 14 days ago

> 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?

AlexMuir 14 days ago

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.

  • toss1 14 days ago

    The article & vid makes the specific point that this is NOT like walking or running (although skipping was not mentioned). It seems that they are trying to get the muscle to contract while NOT under load.

    A key seems to be that the muscle normally is setup to resist a load and so not change length while activated, and also has an unusually high percentage of cells recruited in each activation vs other muscles (most strong contractions in human muscles recruit like 20% of cells, iirc), so this is to get the full contraction effect and not just a resistance effect. (But I'm just reading into it...)

_dain_ 14 days ago

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

renewiltord 14 days ago

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.

swayvil 14 days ago

This could be automated via electrical stimulation. A couple of battery-powered boxes strapped to your legs. It could be quite fashionable.

mdrzn 13 days ago

I won't go into the merits of the topic discussed, but the site's design is spectacular. Very impressed, loved it.

boringg 14 days ago

So when's the product release to provide specific soleus pushups coming out (as I do my soleus pushups at my desk)?

peregrine 14 days ago

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.

Jweb_Guru 14 days ago

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.

  • pessimizer 14 days ago

    > much more selective journals than iScience have published completely bogus research before.

    Do you post this under every journal article? Reminding everyone that things have been false before in places?

    • Jweb_Guru 8 days ago

      Not every article. I just find it quite amusing that HN rails against the replication crisis, but when a clearly fishy publication that comports to its iases gets to the front page suddenly it's not an issue.

peanut_worm 14 days ago

Wonder if this has anything to do with how some people nervously tap their feet

birdyrooster 14 days ago

I am always doing soleus pushups to stim for my ADHD and it hasn't kept me from getting fat or tired.

ruined 14 days ago

it is 2022 and scientists have discovered fidgeting

hn_throwaway_99 14 days ago

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.

  • lock-the-spock 14 days ago

    It doesn't seem like a stim, rather it's a biofeedback device. The YouTube video shows quite clearly how they are working toward the right 'curve' of muscle tension.

gitpusher 14 days ago

> "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.

  • Melatonic 14 days ago

    Learn this one easy but weird trick to COMPLETELY counter the effects of a sedentary lifestyle. Personal trainers HATE this!

  • nibbleshifter 14 days ago

    Better than exercise in that most people living a sedentary lifestyle basically get none, and are shit at sticking with exercise regimens.

    Better than IF in that IF is a crock of wank.

    Better than weight loss in that most people who lose weight gain it back rather quick.

    Basically they are saying this is low effort and efficient enough to be better than those options in the realistic scenario of many people being bad at the alternatives

  • cheschire 14 days ago

    Coincidentally I saw the domain name right after reading that sentence.

  • lock-the-spock 14 days ago

    The example patient in the video is rather senior and he seems to aim at diabetics/age-related issues.