The famous V-Shape is something every bodybuilder strives for and if you want to get taken serious as an amateur or professional, you need to do whatever it takes to get it. I can’t stress enough the importance of training your back; it supports the rest of your upper body and pulls your shoulders back, giving you great shape and platform. However, it takes much more than back training to attain the V-Shape. The shape is made by a strong, wide back, powerful chest and arms, bulging shoulders and slim waist. Here’s everything you need to know to attain the all-important V.
There are 3 main muscles that need serious training to give you a strong, balanced back.
The Trapezius (Traps)
Your traps are the muscles between your neck and shoulder and are the starting point of the V. Well developed traps give you great shape and are easily visible under a t-shirt. Exercises that target you traps will thicken and strengthen your upper back and broaden your appearance.
Exercises:Deadlifts & Shrugs.
The Lattisimus Dorsi (Lats)
Your lats are the muscles located in the middle of your back, under your arms and are the key to a great V-shape. Also known as ‘wings’, lats widen your stance, lift your arms and bring the V up from your waist.
Exercises: Lat Pull-downs, Bent-over rows, Chin-ups
Your lower back muscles need to be strong to support your upper body and thicken your lower back.
Exercises: Hyper Extensions & Straight Leg Deadlifts
Is that it?
Hell no, it takes more than a thick, wide back to get the V-Shape. Along with following a few set rules, there’s also a number of other muscle groups that need equal attention.
Your Shoulders or Delts need to be thick and boulder-like to look well-placed as the corner-stones of your V. Remember, there are 3 parts to your deltoids and you must utilise several shoulder exercises to get great looking shoulders.
Your Triceps are the outline of your V-shape, are 1/3 bigger than your biceps and also look much better filling those essential t-shirt sleeves.
A powerful, defined Chest is essential for symmetry and to provide balance to your upper body. Make sure you work the upper pectorals with the incline bench-press (see our articles section for Chest advice).
Your abdominals need to be strong and visible to truly get that V-Shape, unless you’re going for more a figure-of-eight. Combining exercise, diet and weights will give you a great stomach.
Finally, no physique is complete with thick, strong Legs. You may have attained the V-Shape upper body-wise but with chicken legs underneath, it wont count for much, on the beach or in competitions. There’s a number of exercises that will thicken your legs and improve your core strength, check them out in our ‘Training your Legs’ article.
So what else can contribute to the V-Shape?
Technique – Using the correct technique is all the more important when training your back muscles. Your back consists of many muscles linked together and is constantly under rigorous strain from day to day activities and virtually all weightlifting exercises. Keeping your back straight and shoulders back is key and controlled movements means you have less chance of injury and your gains are maximised.
Don’t overtrain – Your back is also susceptible to over-training and try not to train your back more than twice a week. Making mistakes like this can add to injuries and cause gains to slow despite putting more and more hours in the gym, leaving you confused as to why.
Nutrition & Supplements – As we grow outside the gym, our nutritional intake and diet supplementation need to be especially strong when trying to develop large muscle groups such as your back. If things are lacking in this department, expect your entire physique to suffer. This is especially true when trying to build the V-Shape.
Without a strict diet your abs wont be visible and your V-shape will end in huge disappointment.
Key Exercises – There are several key exercises that need to be utilised to enhance your core strength and add to that V-Shape.
Deadlifts and Squats work a number of key muscle groups such as your legs, back, forearms and shoulders and should be included in any big workout. It also encourages growth through its working of the leg muscles, the biggest muscle groups in your body. Other compound exercises as the bench press, cable rows, chin-ups and pull-ups strengthen your chest and back muscles, giving you a thick upper back and wide lats.