Building an aesthetic, head-turning physique is all about perfecting your “ratios.”
Classic bodybuilder Steve Reeves is a prime example of the Golden Ratio and Grecian Ideal in action — mastering the most appealing arm-to-calf, shoulder-to-waist, & thigh-to-knee ratios.
Yet, even in those newbie days where the gains follow at warp speed, one area is notoriously stubborn: that coveted V taper made famous by stars like Brian Buchanan and Troy Alves.
So how do you sculpt a chiseled V taper, slim down your core, and broaden your shoulders?
Our Ultimate V Taper Workout guide holds the answer.
What is a V Taper (And Why Is It Attractive)?
It might not be the most “attractive” muscle in men; that title belongs to the abs (from the male perspective), while the ladies prefer well-defined obliques and thicker glutes (2019 study).
But the V taper also isn’t just one muscle group.
Here’s what you need to know!
A “V taper” describes the inverted triangle shape in the upper body that looks like the letter V. Common amongst bodybuilders and serious weightlifters, a V taper requires three things:
- Widening the shoulders and chest muscles
- Narrowing the waist and core
- Adding definition to the lats
… all to create a more dramatic “V” effect between the shoulders and the waist.
It also happens to be the #1 most attractive ratio in the eyes of both men and women, at least according to a 2005 study on male body attractiveness.
What Makes the V Taper So Attractive
Both men and women view these attention-grabbing V tapers as universally manly and attractive.
And, we owe this obsession to a few culprits.
For one, V tapers aren’t easy to sculpt, especially when lousy genetics stand in the way.
In other words, a well-defined and sharp V taper proves a guy cares about his physique and is willing to put in the time and effort (in both the gym and the kitchen) to stand out in a crowd.
A narrower waist also makes wide shoulders look even broader, and vice versa. The dramatic difference between the two is the very reason it draws attention at the gym, beach, and pool!
But it all comes full circle when we look at the Golden Ratio (1.618) and the “perfect” proportions.
That’s because broad shoulders and a slim waist create that illusion of an aesthetically pleasing balance between the two, which neither men nor women can deny.
So … it’s all in the science.
How Long Does It Take To Get a V Taper?
Because a V taper requires a near-full-body transformation, adding inches to your biceps and securing your first-ever six-pack might be easier than clinching that long-awaited V taper.
But that really depends on where you’re starting your journey.
Already muscular and looking to reveal a more cut V taper?
If you can shed 2% body fat every month with cardio and dieting (which is safe if done right), dropping to sub-10% body fat can create that narrow waist effect within 3–5 months.
Looking to widen your shoulders and thicken your lats?
If you’re in your first year of legit training (the noob days) and pack on two pounds of lean mass every month, somewhere around six months is a more realistic timeline for V taper progress.
Trying to lose fat and build muscle at the same time?
This is the longest route by far but also the least hectic in terms of exercise and diet. Maximizing your V taper with cardio, heavy weightlifting, and diet will likely take 6–12 months.
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The Rules of the Ultimate V Taper Workout
Before we get into the X’s and O’s of our specialized V taper workout, we want to clear a few things up about the program:
- This is a full-body transformation routine focused on maximizing mass while chipping away at stubborn body fat. Expect five resistance training workouts along with two short, high-intensity interval training (HIIT) cardio sessions every week.
2. You need a gym membership (or a badass home gym). The problem with lat exercises is that they often infuse vertical movements (but also much more than a zillion pull-up variations). Any gym with cable machines, dumbbells, a pull-up bar, and barbells will do just fine.
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3. When the program stops working, make adjustments. Plateaus are a normal part of both weightlifting and weight-loss regimens. But if you’re not progressing in either reps or weight from one workout to the next, your gains will ultimately stall. Adjust the reps, drop down to a lower weight again, or swap in a new exercise to bust through a plateau.
4. It’ll feel like you’re neglecting some muscles from time to time. That’s 100% normal in a specialization routine. You’re not sidelining your legs and arms as much as you’re over-emphasizing the pecs, shoulders, back, lats, and core that make up the V taper.
5. This program is best for those with some training experience. This high-volume split routine will require you to give every ounce of effort for 45–60 minutes a day, five times a week. If you’re a beginner, feel free to customize it (every other day, cutting a few sets from each exercise, etc.) or jump on this program here.
(Maintaining a balanced diet and using supplements are just as important as what you do in the gym. We’ll talk about those a little more after we explain the workout!)
Ultimate V Taper Workout Details
The journey might not be easy, you might be sore more often than not, and the gains won’t happen overnight.
But if you’re willing and ready to put in the effort, here’s our Ultimate V Taper Workout:
Day 1 – Back & Shoulders Day
The defining characteristics of a V taper are aesthetic cannonball delts and cut lats. Day one emphasizes both vertical and horizontal movements to thicken and widen both muscle groups.
- Wide-grip lat pulldown – 3 sets x 6–8 reps (30–60 seconds)*
- Cable row – 3 sets x 8–10 reps (30–60 seconds)
- Medium-grip lat pulldown – 3 sets x 10–12 reps (30–60 seconds)
- Dumbbell shrug – 3 sets x 12–15 reps (30–60 seconds)
- Pull-up – 3 sets to 1 rep short of failure (30–60 seconds)
- Barbell shoulder press – 3 sets x 6–8 reps (30–60 seconds)
- Arnold press – 3 sets x 8–10 reps (30–60 seconds)
- Lateral raise – 3 sets x 10–12 reps (30–60 seconds)
* = You’ll notice that most rest periods in this routine are 30–60 seconds. These shorter rest periods encourage a greater release of growth hormone to maximize muscle growth (2009).
Day 2 – Leg Day
While the V taper is a strictly upper body phenomenon, nothing pairs well with scrawny wheels. Day two is all about sculpting a more X-shaped physique to complement your future taper!
- Barbell back squat – 3 sets x 6–8 reps (30–60 seconds)
- 45-degree leg press – 3 sets x 8–10 reps (30–60 seconds)
- Leg extension – 3 sets x 10–12 reps (30–60 seconds)
- Single-leg curl – 3 sets x 8–10 reps (30–60 seconds)
- Stiff-legged deadlift – 3 sets x 10–12 reps (30–60 seconds)
- Seated calf raise – 3 sets x 12–15 reps (30–60 seconds)
- Standing calf raise – 3 sets x 15+ reps (30–60 seconds)
Day 3 – Chest Day
Your pec (chest) muscles connect to your delts (shoulders), making a buff chest just as important as rounded caps. Day three switches the focus and acts as an aesthetic chest workout.
- Barbell bench press – 3 sets x 6–8 reps (30–60 seconds)
- Incline dumbbell fly – 3 sets x 8–10 reps (30–60 seconds)
- Incline dumbbell bench press – 3 sets x 10–12 reps (30–60 seconds)
- Cable crossover – 3 sets x 12–15 reps (30–60 seconds)
- Chest dip – 3 sets to failure (30–60 seconds)
End the workout with a 15-minute HIIT session, known to reduce total absolute fat mass by 28.5% more than standard cardio (while also lessening the risk of slowed mass growth).
A 20/10 pattern is best here — 20 seconds “on,” 10 seconds “off” or resting, and repeat!
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Day 4 – OFF
Congratulations … you’re about halfway through the week!
As much as you’re itching to hit the gym today, allow your muscles 24 hours to recover before the V taper focus day. The closer you are to 100%, the more reps and weight you can handle.
That equals sweet, sweet gains!
Day 5 – V Taper Focus Day
It wouldn’t be a specialization routine without a little extra attention on your target area (in this case, those V taper muscles).
Day five emphasizes the research suggesting that a twice-a-week frequency is ideal for hypertrophy (muscle mass). So get ready for round two on some muscles!
- High cable row – 2 sets x 6–8 reps (30–60 seconds)
- Weighted pull-up – 2 sets x 8–10 reps (30–60 seconds)
- Reverse dumbbell lateral raise – 2 sets x 10–12 reps (30–60 seconds)
- Barbell upright row – 2 sets x 8–12 reps (30–60 seconds)
- Dumbbell pullover – 2 sets x 8–12 reps (30–60 seconds)
- Crunch – 2 sets x 15+ reps (30–60 seconds)
- Reverse crunch – 2 sets x 20+ reps (30–60 seconds)
Finish the workout with another 15-minute HIIT session, your last one of the week (unless you have a few extra pounds to shed and want to fit a third one in!).
Day 6 – Arms & Abs
Research from 2015 suggests that multi-joint exercises like lat pulldowns are just as effective for bulking up as single-joint exercises like biceps curls.
But it wouldn’t be a true “bro split” without a little arm work. Day six is an aesthetic abs workout while also hitting biceps and triceps!
- Superset 1: Barbell curl – 3 sets x 6–8 reps (no rest)
- Superset 1: Close-grip bench press – 3 sets x 6–8 reps (no rest)
- Superset 2: Hammer curl – 3 sets x 8–10 reps (no rest)
- Superset 2: French press – 3 sets x 8–10 reps (no rest)
- Superset 3: Preacher curl – 3 sets x 10–12 reps (no rest)
- Superset 3: Dumbbell skull crusher – 3 sets x 10–12 reps (no rest)
- Weighted crunch – 3 sets x 10–15 reps (30–60 seconds)
- Hanging leg raise – 3 sets x 15–20 reps (30–60 seconds)
- Ab rollout – 3 sets to failure (30–60 seconds)
* = While the obliques are essential and aesthetic core muscles, they also add some thickness to your waist, which can detract from the V taper. The exercises here are more generic core work.
Day 7 – OFF
After five tough lifting workouts and 2–3 sweat-dripping HIIT sessions, you deserve 24 hours of rest before jumping back in and starting over.
Use your day off to relax, meal prep for the week ahead, and stretch sore muscles with a foam roller (or even do a quick yoga session).
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V Taper Diet & Supplement Recommendations
It wouldn’t be a complete aesthetic routine without some advice for the kitchen. Of course, we’re talking about nutrition and supplements.
Before you jump into the routine above, here are some tips!
- A clean diet is best. Your body needs about 2,500 extra calories a week to build a pound of muscle (it’s not an exact science). Aim for nutrient-dense foods high in protein, low in saturated fats, and low in processed carbohydrates. Don’t become so desperate for calories that you end up packing more fat onto your physique!
2. Fuel up with pre-workout powder before workouts. Research shows that pre-workout powders can significantly improve anaerobic peak power, boost endurance and focus, and lessen recovery time, all of which combine to enhance all-around gains. So drop a scoop into your water bottle on the drive to the gym.
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3. Take 5g of creatine a day. Creatine is scientifically proven to increase strength by up to 8% and improve weightlifting performance by up to 14% (2003). The more effort you can pour into every workout, the heavier you can lift, and the more progress you’ll notice.
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4. Follow a diet that promotes both fat loss and muscle gains. With a diet consisting of 25–35% protein, 40–60% carbs, 15–25% fat, and 400 calories over your BMR, you can reasonably pack on one pound of muscle a week. Don’t forget to tweak as necessary!
Build a Superhero Body Without Training Like One
Getting in shape isn’t easy. But this program gives you a real-life approach to building a leaner, more muscular body without obsessing over fitness 24/7.