Helgerud J, Thomsen SN, Hoff J, Strandbråten A, Leivseth G, Unhjem R, Wang E. Maximal strength training in patients with Parkinson's disease: impact on efferent neural drive, force-generating capacity, and functional performance. J Appl Physiol 129: 683-690, 2020. First published August 13, 2020; doi:10.1152/japplphysiol. 00208.2020.-Parkinson's disease (PD) is characterized by progressive neurological deterioration, typically accompanied by reductions in skeletal muscle force-generating capacity (FGC) and functional performance. Physical activity has the potential to counteract this debilitating outcome, however, it is elusive if high-intensity strength training included in conventional treatment may improve results. Therefore, we randomly assigned 22 PD patients (74 ± 9 yr) to conventional rehabilitation with or without maximal strength training (MST) performed as leg press and chest press at ~90% of one repetition maximum (1RM), five times per week for 4 wk. FGC, physical performance, and efferent neural drive assessed as evoked potentials (V-wave normalized to M-wave in m. soleus) were measured following training. Results revealed that only MST improved 1RM leg press (101 ± 23 to 118 ± 18 kg) and chest press (36 ± 15 to 41 ± 15 kg), plantar flexion maximal voluntary contraction (235 ± 125 to 293 ± 158 N·m), and rate of force development (373 ± 345 to 495 ± 446 N·m·s-1; all P < 0.05; different from controls P < 0.05). FGC improvements were accompanied by an increased efferent neural drive to maximally contracting musculature (V-to-M ratio: 0.17 ± 0.12 to 0.24 ± 0.15; P < 0.05; different from controls P < 0.05), improved physical performance (stair climbing: 21.0 ± 9.2 to 14.4 ± 5.2 s; timed up and go: 7.8 ± 3.3 to 6.2 ± 2.5 s; both P < 0.05), and self-perceived improvement in health (3.1 ± 0.5 to 2.6 ± 0.9) and social activities functioning (2.2 ± 1.0 to 1.5 ± 1.1; both P < 0.05). No changes were observed in the control group. In conclusion, this study shows that MST improves FGC, neuromuscular function, and functional performance and advocates that high-intensity strength training should be implemented as an adjunct therapy in the treatment of PD patients. NEW & NOTEWORTHY This randomized, controlled trial documents that supervised high-intensity strength training improves efferent neural drive, maximal muscle strength, rate of force development, and functional performance in patients with Parkinson's disease (PD). In contrast, no differences were observed in these outcome variables in patients receiving conventional treatment consisting of recreational physical activity with low-to-medium intensity. Consequently, this study advocates that high-intensity strength training should be implemented in the clinical treatment of PD patients. evoked potentials; functional performance; heavy resistance training; physical function; rate of force development; V-wave.
Field of Science*
- 3.3 Health sciences
- 3.1 Basic medicine
- 1.1. Scientific article indexed in Web of Science and/or Scopus database