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The Secrets to Creating a Killer V-Shape

It’s a well-known fact that cannon-ball shoulders capping off a flaring taper of widely jutting lat muscles create a V-shape for the upper body. When you’ve acquired a respectable degree of such shape, it’s a terrific asset to possess. Nothing more effectively gives the illusion of a smaller waistline – even when one’s mid-section isn’t quite as small as it could be.

What isn’t as well known as the benefits of a V-shaped torso are the most effective use of tactics for bringing it about. Oh sure, most workout enthusiasts are aware that a transmogrification of their lats into wings and their shoulders into boulders would do the trick. Yet judging by their workout activity, an awareness of necessity for the ends doesn’t always translate into knowledge of an effective means. In other words, most people are lost as to how to build these two muscle groups.

From years of observation, I’ve noticed that many people over train both of these muscles and completely miss the boat in terms of proper workout form when training their latisimus dorsi muscles. These two factors combined are the biggest reason for frustrating results when attempting to build a V-shape. If good technique is adhered to and volume overload is successfully and steadily accomplished, then the widening one’s shoulder and back muscles is as predictable as a belch after a chug of beer.

Let’s start by addressing the prevalence of over training the deltoids. The reason this happens is that the shoulders are used in an indirect manner when training other muscles as well as in everyday physical movement. And because of their susceptibility to over training for this reason, you shouldn’t work them with any more than one exercise for each of the three deltoid ‘heads’. I personally do four exercises for my deltoids; one overhead pressing movement and three raising movements – one to the front, one to the sides and one to the rear. Any more than this would be a redundancy of exercise and lead to over training. Furthermore, I’ve found that this simple and intuitive sequence of only four exercises can get anyone’s shoulders to grow thick and wide if their training frequency and overload principles are soundly applied.

The ‘four-total-movements’ rule holds true for the lat muscles as well, with one major caveat; they require extra care and attention from the standpoint of exercise form. I choose two pull-down movements for width and two rowing movements for thickness – and then perform these exercises with a focus that makes my arms into nothing more than ‘connecting rods’ between the resistance (weight or straps) and my upper back.

I know what you’re thinking at this point: ‘What the hell does he mean by that?’ Well, I’ve never seen so many people cheat themselves out of good muscle development as I have watching gym members performing pull-down and rowing movements. And what they invariably do to the detriment of desired progress is use inertia and momentum to ‘jerk’ the bar to their chest rather than the unengaged lat muscles to move the weight. Nothing will engage the lat muscles like leaving the arms out of the picture entirely. And nothing will do this like concentrating on pulling the bar from your upper back region while thinking of your arms as merely connecting the weight to the lats – as if they’re an extension of the pulley on the machine.

In addition, you should perform these movements slowly and pretend that you are actually trying to touch your shoulder blades together as you bring the bar to your chest (as if that were possible).

If you simply follow these shoulder and lat recommendations, you’re upper body will start taking on that appearance of a much-sought-after and coveted V. When you further employ the recommendations outlined in my book ‘HardBody Success’, those results will happen even faster and easier.


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