Build a Golden Era V-Taper with this Workout

Back Workout for Building a V-Taper

Aesthetics, proportions, and symmetry were the main focal points of bodybuilding in the Golden Era, during the days of Arnold Schwarzenegger dominating the Mr. Olympia stage. It was all about the V-Taper The advent of science and performance enhancing drugs took the battle from aesthetics to muscle mass and size, which we saw pretty much from Dorian Yates‘ time up until present. While the fads come and go, the Golden Era aesthetics will stay forever, especially with the classic physique division in bodybuilding, and guys like Chris Bumstead taking the crown year after year.

Nothing appeals more in a well-crafted physique than the good old V-taper and we’re here to help you build one.

What is a V-Taper?

Image courtesy of Envato

To start off, let’s define exactly what it is. A V-Taper refers to the shape of someones upper body, and is the shoulder to waist ratio. When you have broad shoulders and wide back, it appears as though your upper body is shaped like a “V”. A proper v-taper can make your waist look smaller and your legs look bigger.

While it is still very prominent in bodybuilding today to have a good shoulder to wast ratio, it is not as common to see physiques that have these Golden Era v-tapers. In bodybuilding today, you will see more competitors with insane amounts of muscle mass, but they have bubble guts and they are not as aesthetically pleasing as some of the old school bodybuilders.

There are actually more benefits to having a good v-taper than you may think. In addition to attracting the gaze and admiration from other gym goers, a good and strong V-taper can boost your performance in and out of the gym.

The amount of benefits a v-taper brings are because the muscles in your back are not only the source of your pulling power, they are also key components in your body’s “posterior chain“. The posterior chain is the string of muscles that run from your traps all the way down to your calves, and it is largely responsible for generating athletic power, balance, and posture.

The V-Taper Workout

So now let’s dive into the workout that can build you a Golden Era v-taper. We will be focused on old school exercises, just like the ones that were utilized in that time.

Exercise 1 – Pull-ups – 50 Reps

We will start the workout with 50 pull-ups. Take as many sets as you need to complete the 50 pull-ups but try to hit failure with every set.

Exercise 2 – Superset:  Barbell Rows and Seated Pulley Rows

– Bent Over Barbell Rows – 3 Sets 20, 15, 10 Reps

Seated Pulley Rows – 3 Sets 10, 15, 20 Reps

The rows build the thickness in the back while the pull-ups and pull-downs help in building wide lats. Use lifting accessories to eliminate the grip strength while performing the exercises as your grip is prone to give up before your back.

Focus on building a mind-muscle connection and contract your back with every single rep. While performing the seated rows, lean forward to give your lats a stretch, but don’t lean back and maintain an arched back while rowing towards your body.

Exercise 3 – T-Bar Rows

Image courtesy of Instagram (@schwarzenegger)

4 Sets 15, 12, 10, 8 Reps

The T-bar rows are where it gets down and dirty. Go heavy on the rows while maintaining a strict form. If you don’t have a T-bar row machine at your gym, put a barbell in the landmine rows position and use a v-handlebar to row the barbell.

A good back workout should be as taxing as a brutal leg workout. Your back is the second biggest muscle group after your legs and building a v-taper will require you to put all you’ve got into every exercise.

Exercise 4 – Giant Set: Pullovers, Lat Pulldowns, MORE Lat Pulldowns

– Pullovers – 3 Sets 15, 12, 10 Reps

Front Facing Lat Pulldowns – 3 Sets 15, 12, 10 Reps

Behind the Neck Lat Pulldowns – 3 Sets 15, 12, 10 Reps

The giant set will be focused on building the broad wings. In the first set, lie down across a flat bench and perform the first set with 15 reps. Don’t bend your elbows throughout the movement as doing so will recruit your pectoral muscles.

After the pullovers, we switch over to the front facing lat pulldowns and then move onto performing the behind the neck lat pulldowns. These three are the most effective exercises when it comes to building wings you could fly with.

Exercise 5 – Barbell Shrugs

3 Sets 30, 20, 10 Reps

Trapezius muscles (or traps) are one of the most abused muscles when it comes to training them in the gym. Performing shrugs is fairly easy, all you need to do is stand with your feet shoulder width apart, grab a barbell, maintain a slight bend in your elbows and lift your shouklders to your ears.

Many people mess up by letting their egos get in the way and go too heavy on this exercise. Pause at the top of the movement and squeeze everything you can out of your traps with every rep.

Exercise 6 – Behind the Back Machine Shrugs

3 Sets 10, 20, 30 Reps

We’re not leaving any stones unturned with this workout and will not settle for anything less than a golden era v-taper. The trapezius muscle is majorly on our backs and behind the back shrugs can help us train it efficiently.

Using a machine for this exercise puts constant tension on the muscle which a regular old barbell can’t do. If you’ve put everything into this workout, by the end of the 30 reps, your back should be on fire.

V-Taper Wrap Up

Overall, the proportions and symmetry of your physique are important to its overall look. You do not want one muscle group to stand out more than the other. When it comes to the v-taper, this is something that truly makes your physique look complete. A good v-taper will make your waist look smaller and legs look bigger.

Will you be trying out these Golden Era V-Taper training methods?

Who do you think has the best V-taper? Let us know in the comments below. Also, be sure to follow Generation Iron on Facebook and Twitter.

*Header image courtesy of Envato Elements.

Dylan Wolf
I work mainly in content writing, focusing my free time on bodybuilding and strength sports. I was introduced to fitness in high school and after watching Generation Iron movies. I love to train. I have competed multiple times, even winning a junior title in classic physique. I have a bachelor's in criminal justice and business obtained through Alvernia University. When I am not focused on work or training, I enjoy watching films or reading about anything and everything.