For us mere mortals, building a lean and muscular physique takes years, if not decades.

As such, it’s best to employ joint-friendly exercises as your training “cake” (do them regularly) with other effective yet potentially problematic moves serving as the “icing” (do them less frequently or at least with caution).

Here are some GENERAL guidelines to clue you in. Of course, this is not an exhaustive list, and your mileage may vary greatly.


Cake: Dumbbell presses, Floor presses, Football/Swiss bar presses, Cable presses, Push-ups.

Icing: Barbell bench presses, Full-range weighted dips


Cake: DB rows, chest-supported rows, machine rows

Icing: Pull-ups, barbell rows


Cake: Landmine and neutral grip DB presses (or Football/Swiss bar)

Icing: Military Presses, Behind the Neck Press, Close-grip BB upright row


Cake: DB curls, Cable/machine curls

Icing: BB curls, reverse curls


Cake: DB Triceps extensions, Pressdowns

Icing: BB or EZ bar extensions


Cake: High bar squat, DB/BB split squat

Icing: Low bar squat


Cake: Trap bar deadlifts, RDLs, Leg curls,

Icing: Deadlifts, Deficit pulls.

Again, it’s not that the “icing” exercises are bad—most are good basic lifts. But they expose your joints to considerable wear and tear if performed consistently and need to be respected accordingly i.e., use excellent form, NEVER work them through pain, etc.

Or you can just slam an ephedra macchiato and go grip ‘n’ rip. You can always grow a new set of elbows, right?

— Coach Bryan