Anyway, let’s delve into the three keys!
Wide lats are the foundation of our V-taper and in order to build thick, wide lats we need to focus on both heavy pulling and heavy rowing motions.
If you could only choose one exercise for your V-taper workout I would highly recommend it be the wide grip weighted pull-up.
Round, cannonball-esque shoulders will form the finishing touch on our V-taper, the bigger and rounder we're able to build our shoulders the wider the top of our taper shall be.
In order to do so we're going to be targeting all three heads of the deltoids via exercises such as the Arnold press (a rotating shoulder press variation).
A Tight Core/Waist
You can build lats and shoulders as wide as you wish but if your waist is equally as wide there's not going to be a taper in site.
You must have a small tight waist, if your waist is between 28" and 32" you're in prime position to build a monumental V-taper, if your waist is 34 - 36" I'd recommend focusing on a caloric deficit and sprinkling in a few cardio sessions a week to get your body fat level down.
Exercises We'll Be Employing In Our V-Taper Workout
From my experience the following exercises give the best bang for your buck in terms of both strength & size development in the lats, deltoids & core.
Weighted Wide Grip Pull-Ups
Weighted pull-ups are a functional exercise and in my opinion are the best back exercise for upper back mass.
If you can’t perform weighted pull-ups perform bodyweight pull-ups, if you can’t perform body-weight pull-ups perform assisted pull-ups or simply jump up and grab the bar while focusing on the negative portion of each repetition.
The only way to get better at pull-ups is to do them! Don’t skip pull-ups simply because you find them a struggle (I recall repping out sets of weighted dips with a 45lb plate before I could even perform 1 proper form wide grip pull-up, so don’t get discouraged!).
With Arms fully extended and slightly wider than shoulder-width grasp your pull-up bar and assume a dead hang position.
Use either a dip belt with a weight plate or lock a dumbbell between your legs.
Tilt your head to look slightly upward and maintain a small arch in your back, this will create the slight angle you'll maintain in your torso for the duration of the set.
Drive your arms down and back, pulling through your lats until your chin clears the bar.
Slowly lower yourself back down to the dead hang starting position.
Repeat for the desired number of repetitions with this full range of motion.
The Pendlay row is a rarely seen yet super effective version of the barbell row.
Chances are you won't find the pendlay row being recommended in bodybuilder magazines, but you will find it being prescribed to athletes by elite strength coaches.
The Pendlay row was named by Glenn Pendlay, an extremely successful olymic weightlifting coach.
The Pendlay row entails starting with the barbell on the ground like a deadlift before rowing the barbell while maintaining your back in an as horizontal as possible position. The Pendlay row, unlike the bent over row is to be performed with strict form and the barbell is to be 'reset' on the floor between repetitions, ensuring you're not jerking or leaning back to use momentum to drive the weight up towards your torso.
Stand with your mid-foot under the bar, medium stance.
Grip the barbell slightly wider than a regular bent over row.
Maintain a slight bend in your knees, however not too much as you'll be blocking the path of the barbell.
Lift your chest up and straighten your back to assume a position as horizontal to the floor as possible.
Pull the bar towards the ceiling, squeeze as the bar reaches your lower chest.
Lower the barbell back down to the ground in a controlled manner, allowing it to come to a stop on the floor before proceeding with your next repetition.
The overhead press is the best size and strength builder for the shoulders that’s out there, when it comes to shoulder training too many guys are working on excessive amounts of isolation via exercises such as the front raise, dumbbell lateral raise and rear deltoid fly… these exercises are useful for isolating the different heads of the shoulder however to build overall mass and powerful shoulder strength you need to be pressing heavy!
Adjust your squat rack or power cage to chest height for your barbell.
Grip the barbell with your palms facing away from you, slightly beyond shoulder width.
Maintain a slight bend in your knees as you unrack the barbell to collar bone height.
Step back with the barbell and maintain a stance slightly outside of shoulder width.
Drive the barbell upward, keeping it as inline with your body as possible while not flaring out your elbows, continue until lockout.
Slowly lower the barbell back down to your collarbone.
One Arm Dumbbell Arnold Press
The Arnold Press is an excellent exercise for hitting the anterior, medial and posterior heads of the deltoid (shoulder) in one exercise!
This Arnold Press is best described as your regular dumbbell shoulder press with a twist.
Sit on a bench and grasp a dumbbell in front of your torso at upper chest level, your palm should be facing your face and your elbow should be bent (picture the contracted top position of a seated dumbbell biceps curl).
Begin to raise the dumbbell while rotating your palms until facing forward.
Continue lifting the dumbbell until your arms are extended above you as if it were a regular dumbbell shoulder press.
Contract at the top for one second.
Reutrn the dumbbell to the starting position by lowering them while rotating at the same time so your palms are once again facing towards your torso at upper chest level.
Repeat for the desired number of repetitions before switching arms.
Dumbbell Side Lateral Raise
The dumbbell side lateral raise and all of its variations are fantastic for building up the medial (side) of the deltoid.
If you want those round, cannonball style shoulders this is one exercise you cannot afford to neglect!
I recommend hitting the side lateral raise immediately after you've finished up the heavy pressing movements (e.g. barbell overhead press) during your shoulder workout.
Grasping a pair of dumbbell stand straight with palms facing towards your body with a slight bend in your knees.
Maintaining your straight position proceed to raise the dumbbells to your sides with a slight bend in your elbows.
As you reach the top of the repetition tilt the dumbbells slightly as if you were pouring a glass of water.
Lower the dumbbells back down to your side.
Hanging Leg Raises
It's time to get those toes to the bar!
Keep your legs dead straight while hanging from your horizontal bar while ensuring your core is tight and your elbows remain straight (there is to be no bending of the elbows) lift your legs up and continue past the 90 degree L variation until your feet touch the pull-up bar, if you look at the shape of your body in the fully contracted position of a complete range of motion hanging straight leg raise it would resemble that of the letter 'V'.
This is the traditional hanging straight leg raise! Aim to perform 10 strict repetitions without any kipping or swinging before moving on. This here is the benchmark, the below are all just slightly more advanced variations to keep things interesting!
Check out my full hanging leg raise guide including easier and harder progressions here.
Flutter kicks are an extremely simple and fool-proof abdominal exercise that targets the upper, middle and lower rectus abdominus.
Once you've mastered slow and controlled flutter kicks on a bench I recommend increasing the resistance with a pair of ankle weights.
Lay on a mat with your hands under your glutes, legs straight and feet off the floor.
Begin performing small constant leg movements, lifting your right leg slightly followed by your left leg higher - repeat for the desired number of repetitions.
The V-Taper Workout
- Weighted wide-grip pull-ups - 5 sets - 8 reps per set
- Pendlay row - 4 sets - 8 reps per set
- Military press - 4 sets - 8 reps per set
- One arm Arnold press - 3 sets - 12 reps per set (per arm)
- Dumbbell lateral raise - 3 sets - 12 reps per set
- Hanging leg raises - 5 sets - 10 reps per set
- Flutter kicks - 3 sets - 50 reps per set
Do You Hone In On Your Physique With A V-Taper Workout? Let Me Know Below!