The V-Taper is possibly the most notable feature of an impressive physique. The most critical muscles to develop in order to give your body a V-Taper appearance are your lats. Lats are large muscles that connect to the lower/mid portion of your scapula and to the lower part of your spine. In order to properly develop the lats, you need to do a variety of exercises to hit the muscle from all angles and activate the muscle fibers of different areas of the lats. Try this workout to add width and thickness to your lats.
Exercise #1: Underhand Barbell Row
Barbell rows are a classic exercise that are known for putting on mass. Performing an underhand variation of the barbell row will allow for greater activation of the lower portion of your lats.
- Hold a barbell with a supinated grip (hands facing up).
- Bend your knees slightly and bring your torso forward by bending at the waist. Your back should be just above what parallel to the floor would be.
- Keep your back straight and do not let your spine become inverted
- Keep your head up and let the barbell hang directly in front of you as your arms hang perpendicular to the floor and your torso.
- Lift the barbell up to slightly above your waistline. Execute the lifting motion by retracting your scapula and feeling the force of the lift at the rear part of your glenohumeral joint (shoulder joint).
- Lower the barbell back to in front of you and repeat for the desired amount of repetitions.
Sets and Reps: 4×8-12, increasing the weight per set approaching the lower end of the rep range on the last set
Exercise #2: Dumbbell Row
Dumbbell Rows are one of the most effective exercises that can be used to isolate the lats. There are several variations you can do with dumbbell rows. Controlling the movement of your glenohumeral joint and the angle at which you pull the dumbbell will determine where the most tension will be placed.
- Choose a flat bench and place a dumbbell on each side of it.
- Place your right leg on top of the bench, bend your torso forward from the waist until your upper body is almost parallel to the floor. Place your right hand on the other end of the bench for support.
- Now use your left hand to grab the dumbbell. Your palm should be facing towards your body.
- Pull the dumbbell up to a position slightly behind your chest that is close to your hip. Instead of pulling straight to your chest area, pulling to slightly behind the chest area near your hip will allow for greater lat activation. Tip: During this motion, your goal should be to control the weight of the dumbbell with your lats. Your arms should not be doing most of the work. Do not let your synovial hinge joint (elbow joint) move much in this motion. Instead, the main joint that should be moving is your glenohumeral joint. All focus should be on your glenohumeral joint moving back and forth and feeling the tension on your lats.
- In a controlled manner, lower the weight back to where the dumbbell is hanging to your side beside the bench.
- Repeat for the desired amount of repetitions
- Switch sides by putting your left leg on the bench and grabbing the dumbbell with your right hand.
- Repeat the exercise and reps you performed for the other side of your body.
Sets and Reps: 4×8-12
Exercise #3: Standing Straight Arm Lat Pulldown
Standing lat rows can be a difficult and unusual movement for some people. Doing this exercise correctly will fire up your lats and teres major. The teres major is a small muscle above your lat that connects to your glenohumeral joint. Developing this muscle will create a rounded finish to the top of your lats.
- Put a flat bar attachment onto a pulley machine and place the pulley at the top position.
- Grab the bar with a pronated grip (palms down) using a slightly wider than shoulder-width grip.
- Take a couple steps back from the pulley machine.
- Bend your torso forward at the waist approximately 30-45degrees with your arms fully extended in front of you and a slight bend at the elbows. If you find your arms are not fully extended then you need to step back further until your arms are fully extended. Once your arms are fully extended and your torso is slightly bent at the waist, retract your scapula and activate your lats before starting the movement.
- Keeping your arms straight, pull the bar down by contracting your lats until the bar is just above your thighs in front of your waist.
- Keeping your arms straight, control the weight back to the starting position.
- Repeat for the recommended repetitions
Sets and Reps: 4×10-12
Exercise #4: Superset: Underhand Lat Pulldowns/Behind the Neck Lat Pulldowns
This superset will finish the workout by hitting several angles of your lats. Underhand lat pulldowns will be effective for activating deeper portions of your muscle fibers to help build mass on your lats. Behind the neck lat pulldowns is an exercise that isolates the lats and the teres major. When you finish behind the neck, you’re allowing for all the force to be put on your lats and teres major, instead of the force being distributed across your chest in a normal pulldown.
Underhand Lat Pulldowns
- Sit down on a pull-down machine with a wide bar attached to pulley.
- Grab the bar with a supinated grip (palms facing towards you) using a slightly closer than shoulder width grip.
- With your arms extended, bend your waist and bring your torso back to create a slight curvature in your lower back and stick your chest out.
- Pull the bar down until it touches your lower chest by retracting your scapula and pulling with your lats. Keep your elbows close to your body through the movement.
- After a second on the contracted position, slowly bring the bar back to the starting position when your arms are fully extended and the lats are fully stretched.
- Repeat for the appropriate repetitions
Behind the Neck Pulldowns
- Sit down on a pull-down machine with a wide bar attached to the pulley
- Grab the bar with a pronated grip (palms facing forward) using an extra wide grip.
- With both arms extended in front of you holding the bar, bring your torso and head forward. Think of an imaginary line from the center of the bar down to the back of your neck.
- Bring the bar down until it touches the back of your neck by drawing your shoulders and the upper arms down and back.
- After squeezing your lats and retracting your scapula, slowly raise the bar back to the starting position when your arms are fully extended and the lats are fully stretched.
- Repeat for the appropriate repetitions
Sets and Reps: 4×8-10 each set/each exercise (for a workout intensifier, try doing a drop set on each exercise on the last set of the exercises)