Back in Time

Branden Ray goes coast to coast with his back routine.

And Ray wasn’t exaggerating when he used the term beating. “It isn’t limited to one area, either,” he says. “Every single muscle in my entire back takes an ass-whipping because I make sure that I do one exercise specifically targeting each muscle.”

Once entering through the doors of the West Coast mecca (also known as Gold’s Gym of Venice, CA) on back day, the Los Angeles resident starts with neutral-grip pullups, knocking out four sets to failure. “I prefer doing these over lat pulldowns because it’s easier to keep my body straight,” Ray points out. “This also allows me to work my lats from top to bottom, and I get a different stretch with my own body weight as compared with the stack on the pulldown machine.”

Talk about coming out of the gate strong! With Ray doing one of the old favorites as his lead off back exercise, he takes it to another level by blowing out the reps until he can’t do another. This works not only his lat spread but also his grip strength as he squeezes out those last few reps. Next, Ray will bang out three sets of 10–12 reps on the reverse-grip pullover machine. This is an important movement to work the lower lats, and he takes the rep deep at the bottom to really hit those hard-to-feel muscles. Getting a full contraction and squeezing it can help bring out that area and make the rear-lat pose a strength onstage.

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