By Alfonso Moretti - CPT Men's Fitness
Are you a string bean with a slender waist who feels scrawny? Or perhaps overweight with some extra luggage in the middle compartment? Concentrating on and developing the V-taper will make skinny dudes appear much broader, and create better symmetry for folks on the heavier side. We've asked Alfonso Moretti, owner and trainer of AngryTrainerFitness.com for the must-try workout for either guy to forge that coveted shape.
What is it: The Latissimus Dorsi. It's the broadest muscle group of the back and is responsible for the highly sought after "V–taper".
Exercise #1 – Shoulder Width Overhand Pull Downs
The key is to pull the bar down to the top of your chest by recruiting your big lat muscles—not your biceps. So imagine your hands are hooks and pull your elbows down to your sides, squeezing your back as if grabbing a pencil between your shoulder blades. Pause a moment and reset. Shoot for 3 sets of 8 to 12 reps with perfect form.
Exercise #2 – Dumbbell Pullover
Lay on a flat bench with your feet on the floor. Grab the dumbbell with both hands and hoist it over your head. With only a slight bend in your arm, lower the weight as far behind your head as possible, without bending your elbows, to get a good stretch. Now, using the lat muscles, pull the dumbbell back over to a point just over your head. Shoot for 3 sets of 12 to 15 repetitions. You'll feel a good stretch in your entire back, especially in the lats.
Exercise # 3 – One Armed Dumbbell Rows
Place one knee and the hand from the same side on a flat bench, using your other leg as a stabilizer on the floor. With your chest out and lower back flat, grab a dumbbell and, without bending it, pull your elbow up by retracting your back muscles. The key here is to maintain your elbow at a 45-degree angle and raise the dumbbell toward your hip bone, not your armpit. Lower the dumbbell slowly and repeat. Aim for 3 sets of 8 to 10 repetitions.
Exercise #4 - Pull Ups Various grips - Close and Wide
Pull ups are an absolute staple to building a solid back, especially when concentrating on the lat muscles. Grab the bar from a dead hanging position, tuck and cross your legs behind you if needed. Pull yourself up until your chin reaches the bar and slowly return back to the start position. Shoot for 3 sets of as many reps as possible. For the first and second sets use a wide grip, for the third set use a closer grip.
The most critical concerns when developing a strong, powerful back and creating the appearance of a V-taper is the use of proper weight. Too many trainees focus on lifting heavy weights that shift the form and focus to other muscles.