W.O.W. 2/09/14-HIT Benefits Parkinson’s Disease

I have gone through the full cycle of my 3 way split since my last posting.  Here is what I did.

Shoulders/Arms:  MedX Overhead Press, Rear Delt Fly, Lateral Raise, Nautilus Plate Load Biceps, Nautilus Plate Load Triceps, EZ reverse Curl, Wrist Flexion (all done at UE)

Legs/Abs:  Calf Exercise, Leg Extension, Leg Curl, Leg Press, Hammer Clam Shell Abdominal (done at Fike Gym)

Back/Chest:  MedX Compound Row, SuperSlow Systems Neck Extension, MedX Chest Press (horizontal handles), Nautilus Pullover, MedX Chest Press (vertical handles while applying adduction force), SuperSlow Systems Neck Flexion, SS Systems Pulldown

Over the years we have had some fairly dramatic functional improvements with our clients at UE.  I had a colleague with severe COPD that came to the ER in respiratory failure who I had to talk into going on the ventilator (he initially refused, stating he wished to die).  After a month on the ventilator he was discharged.  I promised him that if he survived he could come be a UE client and that I would try to make him stronger.  He survived almost another decade, during which time he doubled his strength, lost his oxygen requirement and went on several cruises and vacations with his wife.  We have had several clients discard their walkers and canes.  We have provided pre and post chemotherapy conditioning for clients.

Some of our most dramatic improvements have been in patients with neurological disorders, particularly Parkinson’s disease.  Ed has made reference to one of his favorite clients that came to us with fairly advanced Parkinson’s disease.  When she first came to us, she had difficulty navigating the threshold to our front door.  Now she brags about hiking trips and vacations where she carries her own luggage.  One of her proudest achievements was lifting her carry-on bags into the overhead bin (something she had been unable to do for years).  This is particularly meaningful to me as my father developed Parkinson’s when he was but 50 years old and suffered a gradual, but debilitating decline that finally took his life in 2004.  It is nothing short of amazing to watch someone with fairly advanced disease carry on as well, or better, than their age-matched cohorts.

The following article highlights the incredible impact that high intensity exercise has for those with Parkinson’s disease.

J Appl Physiol (1985). 2014 Jan 9. [Epub ahead of print]



We conducted, in persons with Parkinson’s disease (PD), a thorough assessment of neuromotor function and performance in conjunction with phenotypic analyses of skeletal muscle tissue, and further tested the adaptability of PD muscle to high-intensity exercise training. Fifteen participants with PD (Hoehn & Yahr stage 2-3) completed 16 wk of high-intensity exercise training designed to simultaneously challenge strength, power, endurance, balance, and mobility function. Skeletal muscle adaptations (p<0.05) to exercise training in PD included: myofiber hypertrophy (type I:+14%, type II:+36%); shift to less fatigable myofiber type profile; and increased mitochondrial complex activity in both subsarcolemmal and intermyofibrillar fractions (I: +45-56%, IV: +39-54%). These adaptations were accompanied by a host of functional and clinical improvements (p<0.05): total body strength (+30-56%); leg power (+42%); single leg balance (+34%); sit-to-stand motor unit activation requirement (-30%); 6-min walk (+43m), Parkinson’s Disease Quality of Life Scale (PDQ-39, -7.8pts); Unified Parkinson’s Disease Rating Scale (UPDRS) total (-5.7pts) and motor (-2.7pts); and fatigue severity (-17%). Additionally, PD subjects in the pre-training state were compared to a group of matched, non-PD controls (CON; did not exercise). A combined assessment of muscle tissue phenotype and neuromuscular function revealed a higher distribution and larger cross sectional area of type I myofibers, and greater type II myofiber size heterogeneity in PD vs. CON (p<0.05). In conclusion, persons with moderately advanced PD adapt to high-intensity exercise training with favorable changes in skeletal muscle at the cellular and subcellular levels that are associated with improvements in motor function, physical capacity, and fatigue perception.


Parkinson’s disease, high-intensity exercise, mitochondria, muscle hypertrophy, resistance training

For now, comments will remain off.  I am currently busy with multiple projects.  I will turn comments back on at a later date.

Comments are back up.  Here is a photo from yesterday’s workout.

Calf exercise on the MedX Leg Press

163 thoughts on “W.O.W. 2/09/14-HIT Benefits Parkinson’s Disease”

  1. garymar,

    kudos on your consistency and your steady progress. maintaining one program for a year is a level of discipline that eludes most, myself included.

    best wishes for another year of slow and steady progress.

    I have to remind myself that even 1/2lb of lean muscle gain each year would be a terrific achievement. Slow and steady.

  2. Garymar,

    I am curious about the hip belt squat: How is this done? How quickly are you able to change the load?

    Craig in OH

  3. Doug, Could you please ask your wife about her frequency of WOW every 2 weeks? Is she trying to get stronger? Are there others out there pushing recovery out to 2 weeks? How is it working for you? After 5 years of HIT I am making better progress with 10 days rest.

  4. James, thanks; the information is very helpful to me in going forward with a BW-focused routine. I do have a trap bar at home and will probably work that into the mix in some way.

  5. Will,

    I’d recommend some jump-stretch/iron woody resistance bands ($20-40 on Amazon), as a way of increasing the resistance or providing accomodating resistance to BW training w/ minimal footprint.

    When I do my bodyweight routine, I use a band to add resistance to pushups, which makes it so you’re no longer ‘resting’ at the top of the pushup. I am working out the best way to do the inverse with a handstand or pike pushup – meaning I’ll use a band to make the movement a little easier down at the bottom, where the sticking point is.

    Just a thought.

  6. James,

    With a Roman Chair back extension, is it possible to get meaningful restraint of the pelvis by the manner in which you position the hips and pelvis relative to the thigh pad? Some advise that if you rest your hip bones (illiac crest???) behind the lip of the pad (i.e., on top of) you can restrain hip rotation, and better isolate the lumbar extensors. Have you seen any research which demonstrates that this is of value?

    Craig in OH

  7. Thomas- re post 31

    sorry my word “polish” i nicked off Stuart McRobert, and he used it in the context of those little refinments to a physique that was already a big {bulk}as it was going to get on compounds
    Yes that would mean a little more size in an area emphasised, side/rear heads of the shoulder as an example
    I think he also said that if you were not big enough to be gaped at in the street then most of these isos were probably of little worth

  8. WO

    Nautilus leg ext static hold, one leg at time
    Smith Machine Squats
    Smith Machine Calves
    Nautilus abs

    Great WO, trying to train as little as possible while losing weight.

    HD2 protocol, tre times over two weeks (once every 4-5 days)

    Im having a good time. If its optimal or not I dont know but I look forward to every session and getting stronger every time. 4-2-4 kind of speed, speed not very important though. Contracting is.

    1750 kcal for the last 6 weeks, not counting macros but aiming for appr 100 G of protein every day.


  9. WOD:

    My big 3 (AIO)

    Leg press x1
    Decline press x1
    Row x1

    Great workout. Each set consisted of 5-6 reps to failure at 6/6, followed by a one minute rest pause, followed by 2-3 reps to failure at 6/6, followed by another one minute rest pause, then as many reps as possible with an unrestricted speed of motion.

  10. Bryce,
    Thanks. Slow and steady for sure. I almost can’t believe that at my age (60) I have more muscle than at any previous time of my life (well, the starting point was pretty low). Even my wife notices. She called me “George of the Jungle”.

    Hi Craig,
    I use a “Spudline” belt with wide rings at the end that I slip over one end of a barbell. There’s a good shot of a similar setup to mine at

    www [dot] t-nation.com/free_online_article/most_recent/hip_belt_squats_1

    Scroll down to the Straddle Hip Belt Squat section to see the picture. I can’t secure the back end of the bar to the floor, I just slap a small plate on the bar to nestle in the grip-hole of a bigger plate laid on the floor. Also, I put the rings on the front tip of the bar because I need to change plates for every hold, but I do put on a screw-type cap to keep the rings from slipping off. It takes about 15 seconds to change plates, less if you don’t use the cap.

    Now that I think about it, looking at that picture again, if I put the rings behind the plate closest to the end which isn’t removed, then the sheer weight of it could act as a cap. That would reduce the time to add/remove the plates at the tip of the bar even more.

  11. Febraury 25, 2014


    Nautilus Nitro Back Extension
    Nautilus Nitro Leg Press
    Nautilus Nitro Row
    Nautilus Nitro Military Press
    Nautilus Nitro Abdominal

    First Nitro workout since the Fall. I took it easy, for the most part.

  12. @jayrhine,

    Wendy’s main focus is maintaining a desired body composition. She finds that every 14 days works for her. She gets very gradually stronger. Most importantly, when combined with her diet (devoid of sugar, wheat and refined carbs) she maintains her desired body composition, with the level of leanness and tone that she desires. Also, since she is petite, she does not want to be weak or prone to osteoporosis.

    At times she will go weekly, but finds that she is simply more fatigued for no gain in the above parameters. For me…she looks amazing. Knocking on the door of 50, she is still a size 2, has the same degree of leanness she had when we met (17 years old) and could wear her wedding dress without problem.

  13. James,

    With a Roman Chair back extension, is it possible to get meaningful restraint of the pelvis by the manner in which you position the hips and pelvis relative to the thigh pad? Some advise that if you rest your hip bones (illiac crest???) behind the lip of the pad (i.e., on top of) you can restrain hip rotation, and better isolate the lumbar extensors. Have you seen any research which demonstrates that this is of value?

    Craig in OH
    @ Craig,

    I recommend trunk extension using a Roman chair or similar in the absence of ILEX. Even if it doesn’t optimally condition the lumbar extensors there may be some effect and certainly conditioning of the hip extensors.

    Acute EMG studies are contrasting regarding the effects of belt type restraints, or altering body position by accentuating hyperextension, on lumbar extensor activation during roman chair TEX. Chronic training studies generally show no effect compared with ILEX, certainly for strength improvements. One study though has shown about half the improvement seen through ILEX.

    If you drop me an email I’ll send you a copy of our review on the area.


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