Back in Time

Branden Ray goes coast to coast with his back routine.

Dumbbell rows are a staple of many bodybuilders’ back routines, but Ray put a different twist on the trusty old movement. “I keep my feet even while doing them as opposed to one foot in front of the other,” he describes. “It really engages the lower lats in this fashion and —more important— limits the momentum caused by the twisting of the torso during the row motion.” After three sets of 8–10 reps, Ray is ready to move on to the next exercise.

“I then go over to the Smith machine and do four sets [of 8–10 reps] of reverse-grip rows,” he says,” and I prefer them to using a free-weight barbell because there is not as much stress on the lower back for stabilization.” By not having to be concerned with that, Ray is able to position his torso nearly parallel to the floor. With this body angle, he is able to engage not only the upper back but also the lower back and rhomboids.

“You simply recruit more muscles in your back the more parallel your upper body is to the floor,” Ray says confidently. “Not bending over enough is a problem, and using more of a snatching technique rather than a smooth and controlled rowing motion is a sign that the weight is too heavy Plus, you’re just going to end up injuring your lower back in the long run.”

Getting isolation on a movement that is typically not known for that is a huge plus here. Ray gets the benefit of bentover rows but can accentuate it even further with the guide rails on the machine, plus he has a greater range of motion with the reverse grip.

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