Ten commandments of resistance exercise for People with Parkinson’s (PwP) number 3
Commandment number 3: Pick the appropriate pace and amount of work when exercising as this determines the training effect achieved.
How this works in practise and the way PwP should use it.
The pace and volume of work done in a workout are extremely important as many different types of results can come from just these 2 factors. For example: The three main competitive branches of lifting are weightlifting, powerlifting and bodybuilding. The major difference between these disciplines relates to number of repetitions per exercise and the length of time taken to perform each set and the time taken to rest between sets.
You must decide what type of training effect and body you want then workout appropriately for that aim. Weightlifters do not pump up their muscles because they are performing very athletic lifts that use their whole
body and require great power, speed, balance and flexibility – in other words lifting is a skill and, just like other skills, getting tired ruins our ability to do the movements correctly. The amount of training weightlifters perform would be too much for most PwP to cope with.
Powerlifters strain to the limit, grinding out very heavy lifts that are not as fast or needing as much skill as weightlifters but still require good technique to maximize strength output and minimize risk of injury. Heavier bodies are an asset when it comes to sheer strength. Watch World’s Strongest Man on TV as a good example of
powerlifter-type bigger bodies being stronger and growing stronger as they get bigger. Training as heavy as powerlifters would also be too much for PwP to do without being exhausted.
Bodybuilders don’t lift anything in competition but show off the bodies they have built in the gym with posing routines on stage. In the gym however they may work harder than most athletes as they try to pump and exhaust each specific muscle group on their bodies, often pushing to the point of severe pain and creating a ‘burn’ in the muscle. Training to the extremes that competition bodybuilders go to would also be too much for PwP to
So, how do PwP train and gain with weights if all these ways of training are too much to cope with? And why do the 3 groups of lifters above get such different results when they all lift weights? Well, weightlifters stick to very low repetitions, rarely lifting more than 2 or 3 reps in each set. They focus on explosive movement and take plenty of rest between sets in order to stay fresh as long as possible which enables them to also focus on technique. This style does not build much muscle size and many of the lighter bodyweight class lifters are quite lean.
Powerlifters generally lift low reps too from 1 to 5 or 6 reps per set and long rests between sets on the 3 main lifts. Other exercises used to strengthen weak points or to build more muscle size may go up to 10 reps or more and shorter rests are taken between sets. Powerlifters generally possess heavier-built bodies than weightlifters.
Bodybuilders try many rep ranges, anything from 3 reps up to 20 or more per set, aiming to exhaust each muscle group. This increases growth hormone release within the body. Generally bodybuilders do more exercise than lifters by performing more repetitions in each set and by keeping the rests between sets brief the muscle cannot fully recover and is ‘burned out!’ Nature rebuilds exhausted muscle with more capacity and size which is what bodybuilders want.
PwP can follow these ideas so long as weights lifted are not overdone, rests between sets are not too short, the amount of exercises and sets per workout are moderated and adequate food and rest are taken. This may be the best way for PwP as a training style. What if you don’t want to get bigger but simply want to be ‘toned?’ Don’t work too hard and eat less. If you want to be big train harder and eat more, but to be honest I would advise against trying to get too big as a large muscular body needs more medication to keep going and the extra training done may exhaust you and leave you on the floor feeling like you are dying (believe me I have been there and it is not very nice!).
Many studies have shown intense exercise to be beneficial to PwP and a few have shown the opposite – try a few easier workouts first then go a bit harder and see how you get on. Don’t push too hard but we must always remember that exercise only works if you do so expect to have to work at it to get results.
This is a ‘plain English’ article so I have kept exercise jargon out of it but please feel free to ask technical questions and they will be answered complete with scientific details.
Until next time – and proceed with caution!