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  • Writer's pictureRobin R Varghese, PT.


  • Have you heard of this simple exercise that comes with a lot of benefits? It can be performed while seated, during work hours, at couch time or even if you are living a sedentary life.

  • “Soleus pushup” is a term coined by the study’s authors to describe what’s essentially a seated calf raise.(1)

  • See our previous blog post 'Soulful Soleus'

  • Out of the two major calf muscles, the larger muscle Gastrocnemius is composed mainly of fast-twitch muscle fibers and it assists in explosive movements such as sprinting, jumping, and plyometrics. In contrast, the smaller muscle Soleus consists of fatigue-resistant, slow-twitch muscle fibers that allow you to stand, walk, and run for long periods of time.(1)

What is Soleus Push Up?

  • The soleus muscle in the calf, though only 1% of your body weight, can do big things to improve the metabolic health in the rest of your body if activated correctly.(2)

  • It is a very low-intensity, low-impact activity that’ll increase the metabolism.(1)

  • Soleus Push Up activates the soleus muscle differently than when standing or walking.

  • The SPU targets the soleus to increase oxygen consumption – more than what’s possible with other types of soleus activities, while also being resistant to fatigue(2)

  • The soleus has a high proportion of slow-oxidative fibers, at around 88% of type I slow-twitch fibers, a proportion greater than other fiber typed human muscles. The SPU aims to take advantage of this high proportion of slow twitch fibers, coupled with the fact that slow oxidative muscle is specialized for prolonged activity.

  • The SPU also uses low amounts of glycogen during prolonged contraction, enhancing its ability to engage in prolonged contraction due to the lack of perception of local fatigue(3)

So, how can one perform a soleus pushup?


  • While seated with feet flat on the floor and muscles relaxed, raise the heels 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.

  • It’s a very specific movement that right now requires wearable technology and experience to optimize the health benefits.(2)

Advantages of SPUs

  • “soleus pushup” (SPU) effectively elevates muscle metabolism for hours, even while sitting.

  • 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. 

  • “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.”

  •  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.

  • The soleus’ lower-than-normal reliance on glycogen helps it work for hours effortlessly without fatiguing during this type of muscle activity, because there is a definite limit to muscular endurance caused by glycogen depletion,”

  • It 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).(2)

  • For those who are unable to exercise due to illness or injury, though, Moore explains that committing to the soleus pushup may be a solid option for boosting metabolism and regulating glucose.

  • It’s a low-risk, low-cost exercise that could counteract the negative effects of a sedentary lifestyle.(1) 

How is SPU different from standing calf raises?

  • While standing calf raises target the gastrocnemius, seated calf raises, or soleus pushups, are more effective at isolating the soleus.(1) 

Disadvantages of SPUs

  • It can benefit one's health, as long as he or she is willing to do it for hours at a time.

that is, sounds like a quick fix, but during the study, the participants were doing a lot of soleus pushups. In the study, they spent up to 270 minutes (that’s 4.5 hours) raising and lowering their heels with only brief breaks. While the participants didn’t experience any muscle soreness during the experiment—likely due to the slow-twitch, fatigue-resistant nature of the soleus muscle.(3)

  • They’re not the most efficient strategy for building stronger calves.(1) It is probably not going to be the most optimal strength-training tool.  

  • The soleus pushup routine in this study may be a promising option for those who are unable to do traditional exercise, but it doesn’t offer the other benefits of a standard workout including increased muscle strength, fat loss, or improvements in overall fitness and athletic performance.(1)

At Valley Healing Hands, we provide the best Physical Therapy treatment for all calf related conditions. We provide an atmosphere developed for both patients and athletes with a one on one ratio for the best quality of care needed for maximum outcomes and return to play. Our physical therapist are highly qualified and will plan an individualized treatment routine, customized to your specific needs. Our patients are highly satisfied with our services. You can learn about what they have to say about us here and get connected to us here. Our patients love us and you too will! We can get you back in the game!!!


  • The study found that 130 mins of sustained SPUs burned around 200 calories, while 270 mins burned around 400 calories


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