Ask The Trainer #75 – Training Successfully With COPD



I am a soon to be 62-year old man who has health problems and want to get healthy again! My L3, L4 and L5 disc are all herniated. Thanks to smoking for 40+ years, I also have C.O.P.D.!  The only time I lifted weights was almost 25 years ago and I never felt better in my life. Unfortunately, I got involved in drugs which I now regret. I am 6’ 7” tall and only 215lbs, when I lifted I was 256 lbs! I just purchased the body beast program and am willing to give this my all. Could you PLEASE give me some advice as to supplements to help me achieve my goal of getting healthy and building muscle mass and size getting my weight back up to match my size?????


Mark S. Haney


Hi, Mark. I’m happy to hear you’re wanting to take measures to get yourself healthy. You’re dealing with some very sensitive health issues right now. I appreciate your ambition to want to snap back to health. But, I also want you to understand it can be dangerous to try and hit the ground running.

So, it’s important you take a very gradual and diligent approach to building up your immunity and exercise tolerance. Do NOT attempt any type of physical activity without first obtaining clearance from your doctor! With COPD, your body is challenged with a more limited ability to transport and utilize oxygen.

Furthermore, with 3 herniated disks in the lumbar region of your spine, your lower back is extremely vulnerable. All it would take is for you to attempt more than your body is ready to handle just one time, for something to go terribly wrong and compromise your health even further.

Consult Your Doctor First

Ask your doctor about implementing a progressive exercise schedule. Depending on the severity of your issues, your doctor may only want you to begin by going for a short walk every day for a while to build up your exercise tolerance. As your lung capacity increases, and, providing your lower back isn’t causing too much pain, you might be able to implement some light weight training.

You may want to talk to your doctor about referring you to a qualified physical therapist who would know the best approach to take regarding getting back into a regular weightlifting routine. Herniated disks can be extremely touchy, and a good physical therapist would help you identify movements that could be problematic, as well as movements you can safely perform using proper form.

Respiratory Infections And Treatment

Respiratory infections are a common occurrence among people with COPD. Doctors typically treat these infections with powerful antibiotics. I’m going to go out a limb here and guess you’ve probably already been on multiple cycles of antibiotics since this condition manifested.

Antibiotics are sometimes necessary. But, please understand that in the long term, they can seriously compromise your body’s general health and ability to fight pathogens. This happens because antibiotics are non-discriminatory about the bacteria they destroy. That means the “good” bacteria in your body gets annihilated, along with the bad.  This is why supplementing a quality probiotic is mandatory to restore these strains of good bacteria.Chad Shaw

This good bacteria helps support the production of red blood cells that carry oxygen and white blood cells which are your body’s first line of defense against invading pathogens. If you’ve been taking antibiotics for your condition, then the “good bacteria” in your body are probably nonexistent. This means your body will have a difficult time fighting off pathogens whether they are viral, bacterial, fungal or even oncological (cancer).


I know you were asking about supplements to support your training goals. However, you need to focus more on taking supplements that will build up your immunity and improve your current state of health. If you’re constantly ill, then attempting vigorous exercise is a moot point because your ability to do so will be very short-lived.

That being said, the first supplement I suggest getting on ASAP, is a high potency probiotic. You can find these at a local health food store. You’ll generally find the higher potency selections in a refrigeration unit. Look closely at the label when selecting a brand. Find a probiotic that’s at least 50 billion CFUs (colony forming units). Also, make sure the probiotic you select contains at least 8 different strains of good bacteria. In addition to taking a quality probiotic, you can also help restore the good bacteria in your body by consuming fermented food products like sauerkraut, kimchi, kefir, and kombucha.

The next supplement I highly suggest you take is Vitamin D3. A study involving 414 smokers with COPD showed that Vitamin D deficiency is highly prevalent in this population and that it also correlates with disease severity. This study also found that genetic determinants for low Vitamin D levels were associated with an increased risk of COPD (Janssens 2010).

Additionally, other studies show that Vitamin D can modulate the activity of various immune cells (Herr 2011), inhibit inflammatory responses (Hopkinson 2008), and regulate airway smooth muscles (Banerjee 2012). In other words, these are all benefits you can definitely use! I suggest a Vitamin D3 supplement with a strength of 5000 IUs. One softgel per day taken with a meal should be sufficient.

Coenzyme Q-10

I personally believe Coenzyme Q-10 is one of the most important and overlooked supplements on the market. It’s especially important for elderly people, or anyone who is coping with a health condition, like COPD, that places higher levels of oxidative stress in the body. Coenzyme Q-10 is a critical component of cellular respiration and the production of ATP (adenosine triphosphate)—the transporter of chemical energy within all living cells.

Coq10 is essential for sustaining the heart and cardiovascular system. It also serves as a powerful antioxidant, protecting cells from harmful molecules in our bodies.

The fact you’ve smoked for over 40 years and now have COPD, means the cells in your body need even more protection against oxidative damage. Since Coq10 has a relatively short half-life in the body (6-8 hours), it would be advantageous to take 3 separate doses each day.

Around 300 mg per day would be optimal for the average adult. You would do well by taking 100 mg with breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Be sure you include a little bit of fat in each of your 3 meals. You need fat to metabolize Coenzyme Q-10. If you had some kind of meat with a little fat in it or a slice of avocado, that should be sufficient.

Diet Is key

I highly suggest keeping processed foods/snacks to a minimum. These foods are generally loaded with chemicals and additives that act as inflammatory triggers in the body. Inflammation is the driving force behind nearly all degenerative diseases.

Try your best to select whole, unprocessed foods, or at least minimally processed foods. If it’s feasible to do so, select organic meats, fruits, vegetables, and tubers (potatoes). If you love grains and have a hard time giving them up, look for organic sprouted grain food products. Sprouted grains are easier to digest, contain more nutrition, and aren’t as much of an inflammatory as typical commercialized grains.

Avoid sodathat means both regular and diet! Both variations contain additives that trigger inflammation and cause a host of other problems. I could go on and on, but that would be about a dozen newsletters or posts just on this topic alone!

Please contact me again when your doctor gives you the green light to engage in some more intense exercise, and I will suggest some other types of supplements to help you maximize your muscle gains.

For now, I’d like to see you have a more stable foundation of health, so you don’t set yourself up for failure.

By the way. It would be good to incorporate a high-quality whey protein supplement to have between meals. This will help provide the building blocks your body needs to synthesize healthy weight, and it also increases glutathione production. Glutathione is a master antioxidant that helps detoxify the liver and body.

I wish you all the best of health and success in achieving your goals!

Prove ‘Em Wrong,
Chad Shaw

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