I received this question from a chap named Adam:


Hi Adam

Sounds like you’re aiming for more of a ‘V-shape’. Obviously the two components in this are having:

1) A small waist

2) Big everything else.

 

Simple. So:

1) Reduce your waist
Consider your bodyfat level, sometimes dropping bodyfat will be all you need to add more of a V-taper. Take Propane Athlete Farbod as an example:

 

Farbod improved his V-taper in 10 weeks by reducing his waist size and adding size to his delts.

Also, don’t make things worse for yourself by doing direct oblique work! This will thicken your waist and reduce your V-taper.

 

2) Training your upper back
Adding size everywhere apart from your waist will make it look smaller.

 

Benefits of training your upper back and delts

– Looking like an absolute winner

– Improved pressing strength from increased stability

– Improved posture. Ever seen guys in the gym who you only ever see bench pressing? Notice their posture, and have a bucket handy.

Specifically, adding mass to your upper back and delts (shoulders) will give a pronounced V-taper. The exercises I’d recommend to focus on are:

 

Chin ups

 

 

– This will add mass to your lats – ‘wings’. Work up to using 10 reps with bodyweight, then start to add weight like a boss.

 

Overhead Press

_DSC0716

 

– Increase your press, and increase your delt size. These will add width to your shoulders, also making your waist appear smaller.

 

Deadlift

Screen Shot 2014-06-21 at 21.46.02

Solid technique is very important for injury prevention – but this is the ultimate mass builder.

 

Yusef's diet progress: 82kg - 74kg. Fat loss, regular deadlift training and sufficient volume for upper back helped create this V-taper.
Yusef’s diet progress: 82kg – 74kg. Fat loss, regular deadlift training and sufficient volume for upper back helped create this V-taper.

 

Keep the reps low, keep your abs and lower back tight, and aim for incremental milestones. A good way to do it to make an additional 20kg plate to each side into your next goal: e.g. 60kg, 100kg, 140kg, 180kg, 220kg etc.

  

Dumbell Row

 

Another great lats, traps and biceps builder. Do these for high reps, and go heavy.

 

I’ve seen fully grown men using 20kg for these year-in-year-out. They might as well just be using the weight of your own arm. All of our female Propane Athletes are using at LEAST 30kg for 10+ reps.

 

Is that not enough for you?
– Add in some lateral raises as a finisher to your overhead press.

– Do chest supported dumbell rows (I’m a big fan of these) for high reps.

– Add some rear delt movements like band pull-aparts for shoulder health and shoulder thickness.
That’s a lot to get on with. Add these movements to your program for at least 6 weeks, train hard, and reap the V-taper.


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16 responses to “Editors’ Inbox: How Can I Grow My Upper Back?

  1. without meaning to be a cvnt, that question could have been effectively answered in one word, ok two words “heavy deads”. building a big upper back has nothing to do with lats, delts or a v taper in my opinion.
    you made good points, but irrelevant ones based on assumptions about what the poster wanted to know.
    rowing movements are great for upper/middle back, but depends on the form. dorian really squeezed his delts together on rowing movements and you need to do this to properly hit the middle back muscles (teres, rhomboids). to hit these muscles i think controlled lightish cable rows are the best option, not kroc rows.

    “For me life is continuously being hungry. The meaning of life is not simply to exist, to survive, but to move ahead, to go up, to achieve, to conquer” – Arnold Schwarzenegger

    “the ones wanting to be ‘toned’ still have bodybuilding goals, they just don’t realise it” – Yusef

  2. @Dboy: Cheers man, let me know if there’s anything you want an article on

    “How could I find 50 min on the cross trainer boring when i’m watching deal or no deal on mute?” – Ruaidhri

  3. @Ruaidhri:

    based on assumptions about what the poster wanted to know.

    Yes the rest of the article was based on the assumption that what the reader wanted to know was not specifically how to have a bigger upper back but achieve a V-taper look. Seems like what he was getting at.

    For mid-back I did advise chest supported rows which are better for feeling the muscle, but in my opinion getting stronger in all pulling movements is paramount as a first step

  4. reading my post back it looks a bit rude, don’t take it that way! even the stuff that is irrelevant is still gonna be very helpful for newbies like training rear delts, hardly anyone isolates rear delts and they should!

    i’d still like an article on refeeds. i could even contribute with my experiences and opinions on the topic? for example, my biggest refeed by far of 12500 cals left me feeling guilty and thought i’d gone too far but this week i’ve lost more weight than in the last few weeks!

  5. An article on refeeds is a good idea. I got one next week. Although Ben has given me some advice on it, it would be nice to see an article on it for reference.

  6. I think its a great short helpful article – nice one man

    ruaidhri said:rowing movements are great for upper/middle back, but depends on the form. dorian really squeezed his delts together on rowing movements and you need to do this to properly hit the middle back muscles (teres, rhomboids). to hit these muscles i think controlled lightish cable rows are the best option, not kroc rows.

    this is a good tip as well

    personally I would add some kind of trap assistance, I deadlifted 160 with no traps and although thats not heavy, it could take a good year of training for a beginner to get little trap development from deads – my traps are one of my weakest points though imo most people might not need this

  7. I think limb/torso length is a big factor when it comes to trap growth. I have pronounced erectors which I think is due to my long torso causing them being heavily stimulated when trying to maintain straight back with deadlifts. Traps just seemed to grow from powercleaning with bad form.

    For someone like Jonny who has a very short torso, his erectors won’t be stressed as much during a deadlift

  8. lol see I just let my back round… take all that stress straight on the spine…
    working on it.

    on erector / trap/ lat development:

    in after ivanchenko

  9. I feel as though my upper back is one of my stronger areas and one thing that really boosted that was heavy and explosive rack pulls. Really focusing on shrugging fast – bar should effectively be chucked up and leave hands. So could be thought of as cheat/power shrugs.

  10. I’ll work on an article covering all aspects of refeeds for later this week, Roo could you write a short paragraph on your experience with them and send it in a private message on here?

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