These Moves Will Help You Build a Cobra Back

strong back

Training the Back for a V-Taper

If you’re wondering why is a chiseled back called a cobra back, it’s because the V-taper looks like the head of a cobra when a bodybuilder spreads out his lats.

A physique can’t be deemed complete and symmetrical without a V-taper. Building a cobra back isn’t easy and the workouts, if done right, can be as grueling and exhausting as the hardest of leg workouts.

Your back is the biggest muscle group after legs and developing it can take a lot of hard work, sweat, pain, and tears. A cobra back can make you look like a superhuman and gives you wings you could fly with.

Your back is a big muscle group and you need to target it from different angles to train it effectively. Each exercise targets the back in a different way and you need to perform a variety of moves to develop every muscle fiber in your back.

The overall development of the back needs a combination of compound and isolation exercises. We’ll break up the back into three major muscle groups and perform exercises to target each muscle.

Moves to Build a Cobra Back

Upper Back – Muscle Involved Rhomboids and Trapezius


Breaking up the back into smaller muscle groups makes it easier to train and helps in building size and definition by focusing on any lagging parts. Rhomboids are placed at the top of your back right under your neck and at the sides of the posterior deltoids.

– Seal Rows

– Rope Face Pulls

– Incline Bench Dumbbell/Barbell Rows

You can best target the rhomboids by using isolation exercises. While performing the seal rows, bring the barbell to your chest and not your stomach. For the face pulls, hold and contract your back at the top and the bottom of the movement.


Some people like to train their trapezius muscles (or traps) on their shoulder day, but we will advise you to do so on your back day. Although rear delts too are a part of the back, we won’t train them in our back workouts.

– Barbell/DumbbellShrugs

– Behind the Back Cable Shrugs

Middle Backs – Lats (Latissimus Dorsi)

Most people in their back workouts train their lats and call it a day. All the rowing and pulling movements essentially target the latissimus dorsi (lats). The pulling movements help with adding size to your wings, and the rowing adds thickness to your middle back.

– Pull-Ups

– Lat Pulldowns

– Seated Cable Rows

– Dumbbell/Barbell Rows

Pull-ups are an essential for every back workout. In between your sets, stretch your lats by performing the lat spread pose. Posing between sets will rush more blood into your lats and will help you in establishing a better mind-muscle connection.

Lower Back – Thoracolumbar Fascia

Lower back is the smallest of the three muscle groups. A single exercise for the lower back in your back workout is enough to get the job done. It’s important to maintain a strict form while performing the lower back exercises.

– Weighted Hyperextensions

Use a small barbell for performing the hyperextensions and maintain a full range of motion. Performing this exercise to failure is the best way of getting the most out of it. After you hit failure, drop the barbell and do as many bodyweight reps as you can.

You Cannot Miss the Deadlifts

Deadlifts are a full body exercise and are essential to building a cobra back. Switch between high volume and low volume days while keeping the intensity high. Deadlifts are the mother of all back exercises and add size, width, and thickness to your back.

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

*Header image courtesy of Envato Elements.

Vidur Saini
Vidur is a fitness junky who likes staying up to date with the fitness industry and loves publishing his opinions for everyone to see. Subscribe to his YouTube Channel.