How to build a v shaped back-Weight training program

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When building a large muscled frame, proportion is important. Everyone is in awe over a large set of muscular arms and a set of hulking shoulders but how proportionate would this guy look if he had a weak looking back. Back training takes a lot of energy being that it is a large muscle group and doing all those combination moves can really take it out of you, but the rewards are great, especially if you are in awe over a well muscled back such as I am.

An important component of back training is you need to develop a strong lower back, you will need a strong lower back if your planning on throwing some heavy weights around. A good share of back training exercises will put some strain on your lower back so it is imperative that you use proper form and we will be covering any important aspects that you will need to know on how to build a v shaped back in this weight training program.

Laying the foundation

It is essential to work your lower back, good mornings and stiff leg deadlifts are two good exercises for strengthening this area, I would recommend using one of these exercises for at least three sets at the beginning of your back workout, this will not only strengthen your lower back but it will also serve as a good warm up before you get into the heavier part of your workout.

At the beginning of each exercise in your back training program you should perform a lighter set of about 20 repetitions to make sure the muscle I warmed up thoroughly, this would be more the case with your first exercise that you perform as it is necessary to prevent from muscle pulls or worse yet any serious injuries.

Developing the v shape

The v shape is when your back tapers from the waist up (the lateral muscles) the best exercise for developing the lateral muscles is the wide grip chins. Not everyone is ready to jump into this exercise as not everyone can hoist their own weight around and complete full range with good form.

There are ways around this if you have difficulty performing this exercise, one way is you can have someone spot you, they can assist by taking hold of your ankles and applying enough pressure so that you can complete the chin, another way is to place one if not both feet on a bench so you can use your legs to assist in completing the chin, another option is to use a resistance bands that you can hook over the chin bar and hook under your knee.

Wide grip chins

To perform the wide grip chins, grasp a chin bar with a slightly wider than shoulder width grip, palms facing away, while keeping your lower back arched in, pull yourself up so that your upper chest touches the chin bar, hold for a second and slowly lower until your arms are completely stretched out. Getting the full stretch at the bottom of this move is important to get the full benefit of it. Perform the wide grip chins for 4 sets of 8-12 repetitions.

Lat pull downs

Lat pull downs are a good move for developing the lat muscles but with a little more ease as you can adjust the weight to as light as you want. I like to experiment with different hand grips with this exercise, from wide grip to narrow grip to using different types of handles.

To perform the lat pull downs, firmly position your knees under the padded knee supports with a slightly wider than shoulder width grip keeping your lower back arched, slightly lean back while pulling the lat bar to your chest, hold for a second and then lower the weight stack slowly until your arms are at full stretch, perform the lat pull downs for 4 sets of 10-12 repetitions.

Barbell rows

Barbell rows are the most basic muscle building exercise for adding thickness to the back. You will need to exercise care when performing the barbell rows because they do put a little strain on the lower back.

To perform the barbell rows it is best to stand on a bench so that you can get a full stretch at the bottom position, whereas standing on the floor the weights come in contact with the floor keeping you from getting that full stretch. Grab the barbell at a shoulder width grip keeping a slight bend in your knees, pull the bar to your midsection keeping an arch in your lower back, lower the weight slowly until your arms are at full stretch and repeat, perform the barbell rows for 4 sets of 8-12 repetitions.

T bar rows

T bar rows are another good one for adding thickness to the back. With one end of the bar in a fixed position you can lean back slightly taking a little more strain off the lower back and they will stress your muscles at a different angle.

To perform the T bar rows, stand with your feet shoulder width apart with a shoulder width grip, lean slightly back pulling the weight to your midsection, hold for a second and lower slowly. At the bottom of the rows, stretch forward with your arms extended out getting a full stretch throughout your back, perform the T bar rows for 4 sets of 8-12 repetitions.

Dumbbell rows

The dumbbell rows are a great exercise, to do these you are concentrating on one arm at a time and you can get a real good stretch with these. Another advantage with doing this exercise is you are putting less stress on the lower back.

To perform the dumbbell rows you rest your knee on a bench supporting your upper body by placing your hand on the bench, grabbing a dumbbell pull it to your side, hold for a second and then lower slowly. At the bottom position of the row, let the dumbbell sway forward so that you are getting a full stretch in your lat muscle. After you are finished with one side, position yourself for your other arm and repeat, perform the dumbbell rows for 4 sets of 8-12 repetitions.

Cable rows

Cable rows can be a good finishing move for back, it’s also good to add a variety to your workout, instead of just free weights add a combination of weight machines to your workout.

To perform the cable rows, take hold of the handle, generally a palms in grip, pull the handle to your midsection, hold for a second and lower slowly. At the bottom of the position stretch as far forward as you can completely stretching your back, perform the cable rows for 4 sets of 8-12 repetitions.

Barbell shrugs

Barbell shrugs work the trapeze muscles, there is nothing set in stone saying you need to work traps with back, some guys like working traps with shoulders, I have mixed it up to keep workouts from growing stale but for the most part I have done traps with back.

Another good variation to barbell shrugs are dumbbell shrugs, like I have said before it is good to keep a variety going with your training, although doing the barbell shrugs you can use more weight.

To perform the barbell shrugs, hold the barbell in front of your thighs at arms length with Palms facing back, shrug your shoulders up and back using full control never bouncing the weight. I find it’s best to keep looking forward throughout this move, if you turn your head to the side it’s too easy to pull a muscle in your neck, perform the barbell shrugs for 4 sets of 8-12 repetitions.


All these exercises I have laid out are basically a guideline to follow, don’t do all of them in one workout, pick out four of them and you can always switch them around from workout to workout. If you use four of these exercises for four sets each you will have completed a total of 16 sets, that would be a good amount of set’s to follow by for someone a little more advanced in training.

For a beginner I would recommend 2 sets of each for a total of 8 sets, for an intermediate with six months of training under their belt I would recommend 3 sets of each for a total of 12 sets and for advanced 4 sets of each for a total of 16 sets.

Always remember to train smart, don’t take any shortcuts and have patience, sometimes it may seem like it’s taking forever to see the results that you are looking for but with a little persistence you will get there, Rome wasn’t built in a day, but if you stick with it you can achieve anything you put your mind to.

If you have any questions or comments, feel free to leave them below.

14 thoughts on “How to build a v shaped back-Weight training program”

  1. Thank you for sharing your post on building a V-shaped back. I am so out of shape and probably have no business being on this page, yet. But once I started reading the article I saw that you sound like you know what you are talking about. With me being in my 50’s and not working out in years, I need to take baby steps. I’m looking to lifting weight just for staying active and not look so skinny. When I get started I will make sure I have a spotter. That wide grip chin looks like it will put a whipping on your shoulders.

    • Thanks for your feedback, yes the wide grip chins will put a whipping on your shoulders, good technique and form will always see you through, best of wishes.

  2. This program reminds me of one I followed for years and actually still follow to this day during my primary back day on Saturdays, when I’m off work from my day job. It reminds me of a program Joel Stubbs laid out in a Muscular Development magazine all the way back in 2008, and Stubbs was known for his lats. The wide-grip chins, t-bar rows, barbell rows, and dumbbell rows have become my staples on Saturday and I’ll often do one or two different cable movements to finish off the back session. I work back twice a week and this particular workout is the workout I look forward to more than others. 

  3. Hello there, this is an excellent article from you about how to build V-shaped back, am currently working building my packs and I have been doing some indoor exercise, I think I will need to add to my list of what I will be doing in gym as well what I just read here, well I will categories myself as an amateur for now, which means I can only do 2 out of the listed exercise for now, am used to using dumbbells, I will have to learn more about Wide grip chins, seems I really love it. I will start those two for now before going ahead to others 

  4. This is a nice and motivating article. I am a fitness enthusiast and body builder and i am currently in the process of trying to get a V shaped back. The wide grip chins are my favorite and i hope to see the effects of my workout plan quite soon. Thanks for this article.

  5. I had tried to build muscles at the gym close to my house few years ago. I almost did not get the desired results which I needed, probably because I was not doing the exact type of gyming that will give me the desired results. I only managed to build small muscle and over sometime, the muscle got relaxed again. Maybe am gonna adopt this pattern of yours soon. 

  6. I absolutely love this insightful article because it is full of great information. I think this article will helps me build up my v-shape back weight. I practice early morning walkout everyday but still looking for ways to improve .barbell shrugs will be more preferable 

    I hope this v-shape back weight training can help me with my pot belly?. Thanks for the information 

  7. For all these exercises laid out can’t I do all of them in one workout cause I really wish to combine 5 to 6 exercises in a workout. I am slim in posture can I really build a v shaped back weight. I learnt that I must be doing workout for 6months to a year before I can see result, is this true?

    • You will start to get results right away, but like with anything, if it is worth having, it is worth working for, you will see results right away but it does take time. I wish you the best.


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