The Ultimate V-Shaped Body Workout (3 Workouts Explained)

the ultimate v-shaped body workout

Building the iconic V-shaped body is something most lifters seek when they start lifting weights.

To build the ultimate V-shape body, you need to: 

  • Develop bigger, broader shoulders
  • Increase the width and thickness of your back muscles
  • Decrease belly fat. 

To do this, you need a workout plan full of lat pulldowns, rows, deadlifts, shoulder raises done multiple times a week. 

Your diet is also key.  

Some of you will need to eat more to gain more mass and size while others will need to eat less to lose body fat.

In previous articles, we’ve covered topics like the best v-taper dumbbell workout program and the best bulking back workouts.

But, we have yet to discuss how you can increase the width of your upper back AND lose inches off your waist to truly give you the V-shape you desire.

In this article we will discuss how to build more upper back width and size, diet properly to lose inches off the waist, and how to plan both muscle growth and fat loss phases into your long-term training plan.

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Is It Possible To Get A V-Shaped Body?

it is possible to get a V-shape body

Yes, it is possible to get a V-shape body, however some factors will influence how pronounced the V-shape and taper will be. 

One factor that may be outside of your control is your bone structure. 

Some individuals have wider, broader shoulders than others, simply due to their bone structure. 

Additionally, if you are someone who has a larger, wider pelvis (the actual bone not the body fat on it), will be outside your control. 

That said, your bone structure, while playing a role in overall size and shape compared to others, will certainly not hold you back from achieving a better, more pronounced V-shape body than you would have if you didn’t workout out and eat properly (keep reading).


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11 Exercises To Focus On To Get A V-Shaped Body

Below are 11 of the best exercises to focus on when looking to develop a pronounced V-shape body.  Of these 11 exercises, nine target the back, whereas two exercises target the rear and lateral deltoids (shoulders). 

It is important to note that when looking to develop a v-shape body, you need to create more width in the upper back and shoulders, primarily through shoulder raise variations and vertical pulling movements like machine pulldowns, pull-ups, and deadlifts. 

Horizontal pulls such as bent-over rows can also increase back width, but will also help develop a thicker, bigger back in general. 

Lastly, you will find no abdominal, oblique, or core exercises of any sort below. This is because the v-shape body that you are after comes down to increasing the back width and size and minimizing the waistline, specifically through diet. 

The 11 best exercises for building a v-shape body are: 

1. Straight Arm Lat Pulldown

This isolation back exercise is perfect for increasing back width. 

When done properly, you will be able to take the lat muscle through a full stretch under load, and get a maximal contraction and squeeze when you pull the load dowards. 

This exercise doesn’t require a ton of external loading to be effective, which makes it great for any level and for higher rep size building sets.

2. Wide Grip Pulldown

The wide grip pulldown is an iconic back exercise, and for good reason. It single handling can develop a wide back at any level. 

The machine or cable wide grip pull down allows you to train heavy, train with high volume, and bring the lats to complete faituve without being limited by grip strength or overall strength: such as in the pull up. 

This is a great exercise to train multiple times a week as it also allows you to train to fatigue without tiring out the grip or other muscle groups in the process.

3. Underhand Pulldown

The underhand pulldown is a pulldown done with a reverse grip. This can be helpful to develop more thickness and width of the back, while also diversifying your back development (instead of only doing regular pulldowns). 

You can do these with shoulder width grip or slightly narrower or wider based on what feels most comfortable on the joints (shoulders and wrists) and allows for a maximal lat contraction.

4. Snatch Grip Deadlift

The snatch grip deadlift is a deadlift done with a wide, snatch grip. The wider the grip, the more stretch and tension is placed upon the lats, rear delts, and traps, making it much more difficult to maintain a contracted position throughout the pull. 

This is a great option for lifters who want maximum back engagement without needing to lift as heavy as they would during a conventional deadlift.

5. Conventional Deadlift

The conventional deadlift is a compound exercise that can help you build a giant upper back and posterior chain. 

The key here is to do these with perfect form, and to not allow the shoulders to round forwards as you do them. 

If you want to use the deadlift to really target the lats, you can use the snatch grip deadlift discussed above, or you can perform one or two back isolation exercises like pulldowns or rows prior to pre-fatigue the lats.

6. Wide Grip Row (Neutral Grip)

The wide grip row, done with a neutral grip, is a great exercise to increase back width and develop the rear deltoids. 

This can be done with a cable attachment while seated, or done on some machines that have a diverse set up of handles.

7. Bent Over Row 

The bent over row is a classic back exercise that can be done to add serious muscle to the back, erectors, and rear delts. 

This compound movement is great for all levels, however it may take some time to perfect doing heavy bent over rows with a flat or arched back, which is why supported rows can also be integrated if that is a limiting factor.

8. Supported T-Bar Row

The supported T-bar row is an excellent back builder and can be done to create both back width and thickness. 

Unlike the bent over row, the supported T-bar row allows you to train the back to complete failure with heavy loads, and for high reps, without having to worry about your lower back or hamstrings getting fatigued before your lats. 

9. Seated Reverse Flye (Machine or Cable)

The rear deltoid can be built to add more width to the back and shoulders. 

The seated reverse fly can be done with a machine or cables, however dumbbells can also be used. 

It is important to point out that machines and cables often allow for better tension development and less momentum and cheating during the movement. 

10. Cable Lateral Raise

The cable lateral raise can be done to help increase the width of the shoulders by adding muscle mass to the lateral head of the deltoid. 

You can use dumbbells as well, however, cables offer a unique muscle building ability to keep constant tension on the muscle.

11. Pull Up (Machine Assisted or Strict)

The strict pull up was listed last not because it isn’t a key exercise for creating back width (because it is), but rather due to the fact that the pull up is often done poorly or not in high enough volumes (most people cannot do perfect strict sets of 15-20 reps). 

The machine-assisted pull-up is an amazing answer to this problem, as it allows even the heaviest lifters to attack the back muscles with high volumes and not be limited by their body mass being too much weight. 

The machine-assisted, in my opinion, is a better option than the band-assisted because it does not allow a lifter to use momentum or swing around too much to pull themselves up. 

Furthermore, the machine-assisted pull up allows the lifter to get an excellent muscle contraction at the top, whereas the band assisted pull up can make that more challenging for some individuals.

2 Day V-Shaped Workout Example

Below is a 2-day V-shape back workout. 

The total volume for the back and rear delts is between 22-26 total sets per week (back), and 12-16 total sets per week (deltoids).

Each week, add one set to the below workout, per exercise, with the exception of the snatch grip deadlift and conventional deadlift.

Day 1

  • Straight Arm Lat Pulldown: 3 sets of 15-20 reps
  • Machine Assisted / Strict Pull Up: 3 sets of 5-10 reps
  • Wide Grip Lat Pulldown: 3 sets of 10-15 reps
  • Snatch Grip Deadlift: 2 sets of 10-15 reps
  • Machine Reverse Flye: 3 sets of 10-15 reps
  • Cable Lateral Raise: 3 sets of 10-15 reps

Day 2

  • Straight Arm Lat Pulldown (use wider grip than Day 1): 3 sets of 15-20 reps
  • Supported T-Bar Row: 3 sets of 10-15 reps
  • Machine Assisted / Strict Pull Up: 3 sets of 15-20 reps
  • Conventional Deadlift: 2 sets of 10-15 reps
  • Machine Reverse Flye: 3 sets of 15-20 reps
  • Cable Lateral Raise: 3 sets of 15-20 reps

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3-Day V-Shaped Workout Example

Below is a 3-day V-shape back workout. 

The total volume for the back and rear delts is between 24-30+ total sets per week (back), and 16-20+ total sets per week (deltoids).

In week two add one set to half the exercises in a workout, then in week three and one set to the other exercise you didn’t add a set to in the week prior. In the four week, add one set to all exercises. 

The only exception is to not add any sets throughout the program to the snatch grip deadlift and conventional deadlift.

Day 1

  • Straight Arm Lat Pulldown: 3 sets of 15-20 reps
  • Machine Assisted / Strict Pull Up: 3 sets of 5-10 reps
  • Wide Grip Lat Pulldown: 3 sets of 10-15 reps
  • Snatch Grip Deadlift: 2 sets of 10-15 reps
  • Machine Reverse Flye: 3 sets of 10-15 reps
  • Cable Lateral Raise: 3 sets of 10-15 reps

Day 2

  • Straight Arm Lat Pulldown (use wider grip than Day 1): 3 sets of 15-20 reps
  • Bent Over Row (Barbell): 3 sets of 10-15 reps
  • Machine Assisted / Strict Pull Up: 3 sets of 15-20 reps
  • Machine Reverse Flye: 3 sets of 15-20 reps
  • Cable Lateral Raise: 3 sets of 15-20 reps

Day 3

  • T-Bar Supported Row: 2 sets of 15-20 reps
  • Underhand Pulldown: 2 sets of 10-15 reps
  • Conventional Deadlift: 2 sets of 10-15 reps
  • Machine Reverse Flye: 2 sets of 20-30 reps
  • Cable Lateral Raise: 2 sets of 20-30 reps

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4-Day V-Shaped Workout Example

Below is a 4-day V-shape back workout. 

The total volume for the back and rear delts is between 24-36+ total sets per week (back), and 12-20+ total sets per week (deltoids).

Each week, add one set to the below workout, per exercise, with the exception of the snatch grip deadlift and conventional deadlift.

Day 1

  • Straight Arm Lat Pulldown: 2 sets of 15-20 reps
  • Machine Assisted / Strict Pull Up: 2 sets of 5-10 reps
  • Wide Grip Lat Pulldown: 2 sets of 10-15 reps
  • Snatch Grip Deadlift: 2 sets of 10-15 reps
  • Machine Reverse Flye: 2 sets of 10-15 reps
  • Cable Lateral Raise: 2 sets of 10-15 reps

Day 2

  • Straight Arm Lat Pulldown (use wider grip than Day 1): 2 sets of 15-20 reps
  • Bent Over Row (Barbell): 2 sets of 10-15 reps
  • Machine Assisted / Strict Pull Up: 2 sets of 15-20 reps
  • Machine Reverse Flye: 2 sets of 15-20 reps
  • Cable Lateral Raise: 2 sets of 15-20 reps

Day 3

  • T-Bar Supported Row: 2 sets of 15-20 reps
  • Underhand Pulldown: 2 sets of 10-15 reps
  • Conventional Deadlift: 2 sets of 10-15 reps
  • Machine Reverse Flye: 2 sets of 20-30 reps
  • Cable Lateral Raise: 2 sets of 20-30 reps

Day 4

  • Super Wide Grip Lat Pulldown: 2 sets of 20-30 reps
  • Deficit Bent Over Row: 2 sets of 20-30 reps
  • Machine or Cable Wide Grip Row (Neutral Grip): 2 sets of 20-30 reps

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How Fast Can You Expect To See Results?

how fast can you expect to see results

It is realistic to expect results in as little as 4-6 weeks with one of the programs above. It is important to note that the 4-day program will produce significantly more results than a 2-day simply due to the fact you’re training the V-shape muscles in higher volumes.


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Diet Considerations For A V-Shaped Body

To get the most out of the three v-shape body workout programs above, your diet should be tweaked based on your needs. 

If you have a narrow waist, but lack back and shoulder width, then you should…

Get bigger, more specifically increase the size and width of your back. You need to train the back with one of the workout plans above, preferably the 3 or 4 day program to add as much muscle as you can. 

Your diet should allow you to train hard, recover well, and add muscle to your frame. 

This means you will need to be eating more calories than normal, and you should do a 6-8 week bulking phase to increase muscle mass.

Once you have completed the 6-8 week bulk and workout program, you can drop to the 2-day option to maintain muscle mass while decreasing your calories intake to lose some of the fat mass you gained during the bulk to create a narrower waist and uncover your new broad shoulders and wide back.

If you have a wide waist, but lack width in the back and shoulders, then you should…

Train the back with the 3 or 4 day program from above and eat enough calories to maintain your weight.

Your diet should still allow you to train hard and recover, yet should not have you gaining a ton of weight.

Once you have gained more back size and width, you can drop to the 2 or 3 day v-shape workout program from above and decrease your calorie intake to cut body fat yet still maintain muscle.

If you have a wide back and shoulder but need to narrow the waist, then you should…

Train using the 2 or 3 day v-shape workout program. 

Your diet should allow you to train hard, yet still place you in a caloric deficit

In order for you to have the V-shape you are after, you need to first lose body fat (from the waist, which comes through diet), while also increasing or at least maintaining your upper body size. This is where making sure you train the upper body 2-3 times a week comes in.

Final Thoughts

Building the ultimate V-shape body has never been easier. All you need to do is train your back 2-4 times a week, for 6-8 weeks, with intensity and focus on performing perfect reps! Throw in the proper diet for your goals and you are on your way to a serious V-shape body!


About The Author

Mike Dewar

Mike holds a Master’s in Exercise Physiology and a Bachelor’s in Exercise Science. He’s a Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist (CSCS), USA Weightlifting Advanced Coach, and has over 10+ years of experience working with collegiate athletes, national level lifters, and beginners alike. Mike is Founder of J2FIT Strength and Conditioning, a growing global training company with gyms in New York City, Cincinnati, and online offering personal training, online custom coaching programs.