About Jacques Courseault, M.D.

Jacques CourseaultJacques graduated from Tulane Medical School and has seven years of experience as a personal trainer.

He is currently pursuing his residency in Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation at Louisiana State University.

Exercise Right!
with Jacques Courseault, M.D.

The First Step to Success: Committing to More than Yourself
How to Begin an Exercise Regimen
Walk Your Way to Better Health
How to Begin a Walking Program
Eating and Exercise: What to eat and when to eat it
Weight, Lean Body Mass and Exercise
Strong Muscles Fight Disease
How to Exercise with Disabled or Weak Legs
How to Conserve Muscle Mass During Weight Loss
How to Build Muscle Mass
How to Build Muscular Endurance
Exercise Ideas: Play Video Games!
Exercise Improves Eating Habits


  • Lift enough weight that allows you to safely perform six to 12 repetitions. If you can only do less than six, then your resistance is too heavy. If more than 12, your resistance is too light.
  • Increase your resistance for a particular exercise by 2 to 10 percent once you can perform 13 or 14 repetitions over two consecutive training sessions.
  • Drink a sports drink or water throughout your workout.
  • Stop if you feel dizzy or nauseated.
  • Frequently change the types of exercises you do each workout.
  • Never lift free weights without a spotter.
  • Avoid holding your breath when lifting weights.
  • Eat the proper foods


Resistance Training: How to Build Muscle Mass

Performing a search for "How to Build Muscle Mass" leads to bodybuilding sites, muscle supplement ads or vague advice on how to get "ripped." Your time is too valuable to waste on confusing recommendations that may or may not produce sustainable results. Advice for increasing muscle mass should be based on years of research by reputable organizations.

Researchers from the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) meet every seven years to update recommendations for effective resistance training (Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise 2009; 41:3 687-708). These recommendations are used to design resistance training programs to improve muscle strength, power, size and endurance. Variations in types of exercises and how they are performed can be tailored to specific training goals. Follow these steps to build a workout that will increase your muscle mass.


Step 1

Make a strict schedule for the first six weeks. Plan to train three days per week for 45 minutes to an hour per session. Workout with a partner when possible. This will increase your motivation and provide a spotter (someone who can help you when you fatigue).

Step 2

Decide what type of equipment you are going to use. Novice individuals may begin with resistance bands, but should plan to advance to free-weights or machine resistance. The ACSM strongly recommends that free-weight and/or machine exercises should be used for novice to advanced training. However, emphasis should be placed on using free-weights if you are more advanced.

Step 3

Write down in a notebook or a workout log the exercises you will perform before each workout. Novice individuals should workout with someone that has previous experience with resistance training, or hire a trainer. The American Council on Exercise (ACE) has a library of exercises that you may refer to. Each workout should include 8 to 12 exercises that involve one-limb exercises (e.g. dumbbell preacher curl), two-limb exercises (e.g. seated dumbbell bicep curl) and multi-limb exercises (e.g. barbell push press). Plan to perform eight to twelve repetitions per set and three sets per exercise. According to the ACSM, large muscle groups should be exercised before small muscle groups and multi-limb exercises should be performed before single or two-limb exercises. Alternate between upper body and lower body exercises.

During the Workout

Step 1

Perform each exercise slowly. Your concentric movement, the movement against the weight, should take four seconds to perform. The eccentric movement, the movement back to the starting position, should take four seconds to perform. For advanced training, exercises can be performed at various speeds depending on the goals of a particular exercise. However, slower movements are preferred.

Step 2

Rest after each set of exercise. One to two minute rest intervals between sets are recommended for novice and intermediate training. For advanced training, two to three minute rest periods can be used for heavy weight exercises.

Step 3

Write down the amount of resistance you use for each set and the number of repetitions that you performed.