An American health professor says he’s discovered a muscle in the body which, when activated, can trigger hours of fat-burning even while sitting around.

It sounds too good to be true, and – going by the demonstration of the exercise in the video below, also looks too good to be true. But Marc Hamilton of Houston University is calling it “most important study” carried out in his lab in years.

“We never dreamed that this muscle has this type of capacity,” Hamilton said according to a recent press release from the university.

“It’s been inside our bodies all along, but no one ever investigated how to use it to optimise our health, until now.”

So, what is it? 

The soleus muscle is in our calves. Hamilton developed a type of “pushup” which he claims produces a 52% improvement in blood sugar levels and doubles the normal rate of fat metabolism between meals. The effect, he claims, lasts for hours.

“All of the 600 muscles combined normally contribute only about 15% of the whole-body oxidative metabolism in the three hours after ingesting carbohydrate. 

“Despite the fact that the soleus is only 1% the body weight, it is capable of raising its metabolic rate during [soleus pushup] contractions to easily double, even sometimes triple, the whole-body carbohydrate oxidation.

“We are unaware of any existing or promising pharmaceuticals that come close to raising and sustaining whole-body oxidative metabolism at this magnitude.”

How do you do a soleus pushup, then? 

It’s absurdly easy. While you’re sitting on a chair with your feet flat on the ground, lift up the heel, keeping the front of your foot flat. Then put it back down. That, apparently, is the soleus pushup (SPU).

“While the SPU movement might look like walking (though it is performed while seated) it is the exact opposite, according to the researchers,” Houston University said in its release. 

“When walking, the body is designed to minimise the amount of energy used, because of how the soleus moves. Hamilton’s method flips that upside down and makes the soleus use as much energy as possible for a long duration.”

Hamilton says they’re currently working on “additional publications” on “how to instruct people to properly learn this singular movement… without the sophisticated laboratory equipment used in this latest study”.

The details were published in iScience