The V-tapered body is an elusive training goal that many beginners strive for. But it can also be a notoriously long and difficult journey if you don’t know what to do. This article will share 5 ways you can get a V-shaped body at home.
Getting a V-shaped body at home requires heavy resistance training to target the back, shoulder, chest, and arm muscles. This can be achieved with barbells, dumbbells, kettlebells, resistance bands, or bodyweight exercises. A high-protein diet is also recommended to fuel muscle growth.
Which method you choose is dependent on your personal needs.
I used a combination of these methods to help me to build my V-taper. But any 1 of the 5 methods will also work well!
My research and experience have been condensed into these 5 workouts that I know will help you to improve your physique.
So let’s jump right in.
- How Do You Get The Perfect V-Shaped Body?
- 5 Methods To Build A V-Shaped Body At Home
- Which Method Is The Best For Building A V-Shape?
- What Should You Eat For A V-Shaped Body?
- Which Resistance Training Method Burns The Most Fat?
- How Long Will It Take To Get A V-Shaped Body?
- Gear Recommendation For These Workouts
How Do You Get The Perfect V-Shaped Body?
A perfect V-shaped body requires the shoulder width to be 1.6x the waist width. Chest width should also be 1.4x the waist width. Resistance training to gain muscle in the upper body and lose fat from the waist is the ideal way to obtain these dimensions.
The route to getting the perfect V-shaped body at home will be different depending on your current body dimensions and composition.
You find out which muscles contribute to the V-shape in my other post here.
For skinny people:
A skinny person typically has 10-20% body fat with very little muscle mass. Their arms and legs are often thin and the torso resembles a “stick” shape.
Skinny people should focus on heavy resistance training with a mild caloric surplus.
Rest duration between workout sets (performing a consecutive number of repetitions without a break) should also be kept long (~2-3 minutes).
This encourages the body to pack muscle onto a skinny frame.
You can find my skinny guy home workout plan here to learn how to pack on lean mass fast.
For overweight people:
An overweight person typically has 25%+ body fat. Muscle mass can vary greatly between overweight individuals, but they generally have more muscle than skinny people. Their arms and legs are often much thicker and the torso resembles a “pear” shape.
Overweight people should focus on heavy resistance training with a mild caloric deficit.
This encourages the body to build muscle and lose fat.
For both body types:
Regardless of your chosen route- you should also:
- Choose exercises that target the back, shoulders, chest, and arms.
- Apply progressive overload by adding weight to your workouts as you become stronger.
- Eat a protein-rich diet to facilitate muscle growth and repair (see end section).
A broad upper body and a slim waistline that leads to the perfect V-shape!
Now you need to decide how you want to do resistance training. There are multiple ways to build a V-shaped body at home and this is what we’ll explore next!
5 Methods To Build A V-Shaped Body At Home
Resistance training takes multiple forms, each with its pros, cons, and nuances.
Therefore it’s important to choose the appropriate style of training to increase your chances of success.
Here 5 ways you can resistance train (with and without equipment):
1) Barbell workouts are powerful but expensive.
Barbells are one of the best ways to build a V-shape torso. Why? The heavier the weight lifted the more muscle gained.
And barbells can accommodate A LOT of weight.
But they are expensive and require a lot of space (you’ll also need a rack and bench). This makes them unsuitable for many home gyms.
Here are some of my favorite barbell exercises to build a v-shaped body at home:
|Bent-over barbell row||8||3||80% 1RM||Compound back-builder to get bigger lats, traps, rhomboids, and biceps that lead to a pronounced V-shape.|
|Upright barbell row||10||3||75% |
|A great exercise that works the deltoids, traps, and biceps simultaneously to emphasize the upper region of the V-taper.|
|Barbell shoulder press||8||3||80% 1RM||Arguably the best barbell shoulder movement which works all 3 deltoid muscles and triceps to widen the V-shape.|
|Flat barbell bench press||8||3||80% 1RM||Works the lower, mid, and upper pectoral regions leading to a fuller chest and a balanced V-shape. Also hits the triceps.|
|Incline barbell bench press||8||3||80% 1RM||Emphasizes the upper pectorals regions to balance the upper region of the V-shape. Engages the triceps too.|
|Barbell deadlift||6||3||85% 1RM||A powerful total-body movement to build muscle in the shoulders and back. Also great for burning calories and increasing metabolism.|
2) Dumbbell workouts are affordable & effective.
Dumbbells have a limited weight capacity compared to a barbell, but they can be just as effective for beginners and intermediates to build a V-shaped body at home (just make sure you pick ones that are heavy enough to challenge your muscles).
What they lack in weight, dumbbells make up for with their convenience.
They are cheap, easy to use, and modern dumbbells pack multiple weights into a single adjustable unit.
They are my preferred way to train at home.
Note: all barbell exercises can also be performed using dumbbells.
Here are my favorite dumbbell exercises to build a v-shaped body at home:
|Barbell Exercise||Reps||Sets||Weight||How It Builds A V-Shape|
|Single-arm dumbbell row||8||3||80% 1RM||This variation of the row allows the weight to drop further down which leads to a deeper stretch of the back muscles.|
|Dumbbell incline reverse fly||12||3||65% |
|A great exercise to isolate the traps and posterior deltoids which contribute to a broad upper back.|
|Dumbbell seated shoulder press||8||3||80% 1RM||Less weight can be lifted compared to the barbell shoulder press but stabilizer requirement leads to greater deltoid activation.|
|Flat dumbbell bench press||8||3||80% 1RM||One of the best dumbbell exercises to build a pronounced chest. And a pronounced chest will accentuate a slim waist.|
|Incline dumbbell bench press||8||3||80% 1RM||Effectively engages the upper pectorals and triceps simultaneously to provide balance to the upper V-shape.|
|Dumbbell flyes||12||3||65% |
|Isolates the chest muscles. Can be performed at a flat or incline angle to target different pectoral regions.|
If you’re interested in using dumbbells, you can check out my other article for a complete workout and nutrition guide to building a V-shape body with dumbbells.
3) Kettlebelll training builds muscle and burns fat.
Kettlebell workouts are unique because they are great for total-body conditioning.
Most kettlebell lifts are functional, highly dynamic, and engage multiple muscle groups in complex movements. This makes them great for building muscle and losing fat at the same time.
But the complexity of kettlebell lifts makes them hard for beginners, and a 2012 study has shown that they aren’t as effective as barbells or dumbbells at building muscle
They’re also quite expensive for what you get.
Nevertheless, here are some great kettlebell exercises to build a v-shaped body at home:
|Kettlebell Exercise||Reps||Sets||How It Builds A V-Shape|
|Renegade rows||AMRAP 30 secs||5||Compound kettlebell back builder for bigger lats, traps, rhomboids, and biceps. Great for broadening the back.|
|Kettlebell high pull||AMRAP 30 secs||5||Works the arms, deltoids, and traps to widen the upper region of the V-shape.|
|Kettlebell clean & press||AMRAP 30 secs||5||An energy-intensive movement that burns calories and also works the entire body with emphasis on the deltoids for broader shoulders|
|Glute chest press with kettlebell||AMRAP 30 secs||5||Great kettlebell movement to train the pectorals for a broader chest which accentuates a slim waistline.|
Check out my other article to learn more about the differences between free weights!
4) Resistance bands are extremely cheap and convenient.
Resistance bands are by far one of the cheapest, convenient, and most portable ways to build a V-tapered torso at home (you can check out their full list of benefits here).
Don’t underlook the simple nature of bands- not only can they be used to replicate all free weight exercises but they can also provide extremely heavy resistance when multiple bands are combined into one.
I used bands to maintain my physique during the 2020 lockdowns and they are effective.
But bands can be boring to use and if you buy budget brands they will also snap easily.
Here are my favorite band exercises to build a v-shaped body at home:
|Band Exercise||Reps||Sets||Weight||How It Builds A V-Shape|
|Bent-over band row||10||3||80% 1RM||Resistance band equivalent to the barbell bent-over row. Great for hitting the lats, traps, rhomboids, and deltoids.|
|Upright band row||10||3||80% 1RM||Equivalent to the barbell upright row. This exercise will work the deltoids and trapezius to widen the upper back.|
|Resistance band shoulder press||10||3||80% 1RM||Resistance band equivalent to the barbell shoulder press which will help you build bigger shoulders and widen the V.|
|Flat push up with resistance band||10||3||80% 1RM||This exercise is similar to the barbell bench press. It targets the pectorals for a broad chest.|
|Decline push up with resistance band||10||3||80% 1RM||Doing a resistance band push-up in a decline position emphasizes the upper pectorals for greater chest volume.|
|Banded deadlift||10||3||80% 1RM||Total-body band exercise that burns calories and engages all the upper body muscles for a lean and defined V-taper.|
You may also be interested in my other home resistance band workout here.
5) Bodyweight workouts do not require equipment.
Bodyweight exercises can be effective for beginners. But you’ll likely need to upgrade to the other forms of resistance training as you become stronger.
That’s because bodyweight exercises are extremely limited in the weight you can lift.
Here are 3 ways to increase the difficulty of bodyweight exercises:
- Practice time under tension training. This involves prolonging the upward/downward phases of a lift to 3+ seconds each (making the exercise much harder).
- Use heavy household objects to make the lift harder.
- Hold the peak contraction for a couple of seconds to really activate the target muscle.
If you choose the bodyweight route, then a power tower will be extremely beneficial. It allows you to do pull-ups and chest dips- two of the best upper body exercises.
Here’s a V-shape bodyweight home workout without equipment:
|Bodyweight Exercise||Reps||Sets||How It Builds A V-Shape|
|Wide-grip pull-ups||AMRAP 30 secs||3||A powerful back-builder that engages the entire back with emphasis on the lats.|
|Chin-ups||AMRAP 30 secs||3||Similar to the wide-grip pull-up but the narrow underhand grips shifts emphasis to the biceps. Easier to perform for beginners.|
|Superman||AMRAP 30 secs||3||This simple exercise is not difficult to perform but adds definition to the back muscles including the traps, rhomboids, and posterior deltoids.|
|Pike push-up||AMRAP 30 secs||3||Bodyweight equivalent of the shoulder press which builds the anterior deltoids and triceps. Try the handstand push-up as a harder alternative.|
|Chest dips||AMRAP 30 secs||3||Powerful upper body move that engages the chest, deltoids, and triceps for a pronounced V-shaped torso.|
|Flat push-up||AMRAP 30 secs||3||Bodyweight equivalent of the flat bench press. A more challenging and effective variation of the push-up can be performed on dumbbells.|
|Decline push-up||AMRAP 30 secs||3||Bodyweight equivalent of the incline bench press.|
|Air pistol-squat||AMRAP 30 secs||3||Calorie-intensive exercise that helps to burn fat, slim the waistline, and create a pronounced V-taper.|
Which Method Is The Best For Building A V-Shape?
All 5 methods can be used to build a V-shaped body at home. But certain methods lead to faster results than others.
Free weights (barbells, dumbbells, and kettlebells) allow you to do more work in a shorter period since they provide the most resistance. And this makes them the most effective option.
But you should also consider the cost and space requirements for each method:
Whilst they are highly effective, barbells also cost a lot of money and take up considerable space. This is why they are the least popular free weight (as indicated by the low number of Amazon units sold).
On the other hand, dumbbells and kettlebells are cheaper and require less space. This makes them very popular free weights.
If you’re trying to build a V-shape on a budget, then band and bodyweight training may be more suitable for you.
You may also be interested in my other post to learn how to bodybuild with dumbbells!
What Should You Eat For A V-Shaped Body?
Nutrition is key to successfully building a V-shape. The goal is to maximize muscle gain and minimize fat levels.
The strategy will vary depending on your current body composition:
(<12% Body Fat)
(13-24% Body Fat)
(>25% Body Fat)
|Calories||10-15% surplus||0-10% surplus||5-10% deficit|
|Protein||1g per lb bodyweight||1.1g per lb bodyweight||1.2g per lb bodyweight|
|Carbs||3g per lb bodyweight||2.5g per lb bodyweight||2g per lb bodyweight|
|Fat||0.4g per lb bodyweight||0.4g per lb bodyweight||0.2g per lb bodyweight|
|Dietary Fibre||5 portions fresh fruit & veg||5 portions fresh fruit & veg||5 portions fresh fruit & veg|
Skinny people have the freedom to eat more calories to maximize muscle growth.
But if you’re skinny-fat or overweight, you should reduce your calorie intake to facilitate fat-burning as you continue to build muscle.
Either way, you should be consuming a protein-rich diet.
If you’re struggling to build muscle, you may be interested in my complete guide to gaining your first 10 pounds!
Which Resistance Training Method Burns The Most Fat?
In general, kettlebell training expends the highest amount of calories per hour and burns the most fat. This is followed by barbell and dumbbell training which expends a moderate amount of calories per hour. Resistance band and bodyweight training expend the least amount of calories.
Here’s a breakdown of the calorie expenditure of each resistance training method:
- Barbell: 400 calories per hour.
- Dumbbell: 400 calories per hour (if you’re struggling to shed the belly fat, you can find out how to use dumbbells to lose weight here).
- Kettlebell: 1200 calories per hour.
- Resistance band: 296 calories per hour.
- Bodyweight: 334 calories per hour.
How Long Will It Take To Get A V-Shaped Body?
The average person can take between 6 to 12 months to get a pronounced V-shape body. Experienced lifters who have more muscle mass, less body fat, and longer training history will take significantly less time to develop a V-shape compared to a beginner.
If we assume the maximum rate of muscle gain is 2lbs per month, then this gives you an idea of how long it will take you.
It takes 10lbs of muscle to see the first noticeable changes and up to 20lbs+ to see significant changes.
A skinny guy with a low body fat % could see results in as quickly as 6 months.
But someone who is overweight will require more time as they also need to slim down the waistline to accentuate the V-taper.
Gear Recommendation For These Workouts
The CAP Olympic barbell can be delivered cheaply from Amazon. It’s affordable and ideal for beginners. Since it’s an Olympic-sized bar, the dimensions are standardized to take on bumper plates purchased anywhere online. This means you can slowly buy more weight as you become stronger. The chrome-plated steel is hardwearing and the knurling (handle etching) isn’t too aggressive. You can check the cheapest price here.
This barbell can be used with any Olympic weight plates like these Balance From plates.
You’ll also need a rack like this Bang Tong to do squats, shoulder pressing, and bench pressing.
You’ll also need a weight bench. I use the Flybird FB149. It’s a bestseller on Amazon and is perfect for most home gyms. It’s light, foldable, and the 700-lb capacity is more than enough to build a V-shape at home. You can check the cheapest price here.
I use and highly recommend the Powerblock Elites (check out my review here). Each dumbbell contains up to 28 different weight settings that can be adjusted with a slick pin mechanism. The standard model weighs 50lbs per dumbbell. But you can purchase the addon kits which increase the weight to 70lbs and 90lbs whenever you’re ready. They’re quick to adjust and come with a 5-year warranty. You can check the cheapest price here.
I would highly recommend buying a weight bench as well. A bench will allow you to do the full array of exercises using the Powerblocks. The Flybird bench (see above) works great!
Having researched over a dozen models, I found the Yes4all kettlebells to be the best value for beginners. They are made from a solid cast iron construction and will last you a lifetime. The powder-coated handle is also textured and provides a comfortable grip. You can find the cheapest price here.
If you want to train with resistance bands then I’d highly advise against buying the budget brands. I fell for this exact mistake (twice!). Both sets snapped on me within a year. Instead, I’d recommend going for the Undersun bands. They’re slightly pricier but they come with a lifetime warranty. You can find the cheapest price here.
You’ll also need gloves to protect your hands from friction burns. Don’t bother with the expensive gloves. Cheap ones do the job perfectly well. I use the Ihuan gloves. You can find the cheapest price here.
A power tower will supercharge your bodyweight workouts with pullups, chin-ups, and dips. A tower is a standalone unit that doesn’t need to be screwed in so it won’t damage your walls like a pull-up bar does. I use the Sports Royal tower. It’s stable, accommodates all user heights, and has one of the smallest footprints on the market. You can check the cheapest price here.
I’ve shared 5 ways to get a V-shaped body at home.
All 5 workouts can build you a V-shape. But depending on your current training level, body composition, budget, and available space, you should choose a method that’s suitable for your current needs.
As a beginner, I’d recommend first starting with the bodyweight workout since it’s free. And when you get stronger you can consider purchasing the equipment required for the other workouts!
Which method will you be using?
You may also be interested in the downloadable Kalibre Blueprint PDF which details exactly how I gained 40lbs of lean muscle (it’s 100% free!). It details the exact exercises and nutrition I used to go from skinny to ripped!
Thanks for reading guys!
(Biochemistry BSc, Biomedical Sciences MSc, Ex-Skinny Guy)