3 Moves to V-Shape Your Back

Photos: Paul Buceta

A strong back is both sexy and functional. Add these three moves to your routine, and you can build one too!

A well-defined back and shoulders are the key elements in developing a gorgeous v-taper, which will in turn create the illusion of a smaller waist and hips. Targeting your rear delts, trapezius and your erector spinae (a synergist in the stiff-legged deadlift, below) will go a long way to creating this desired shape.

Incorporate these three moves into your own routine, or complete them in succession for one terrific back-building workout.

Dumbbell Rear-Deltoid Raise

Target Muscles: posterior deltoid

Synergist Muscles: teres minor, infraspinatus, lateral deltoid

Set Up: Sit on a stability ball and lean forward. Hold a dumbbell in each hand at arm’s length [A].

Action: Slowly raise the dumbbells out to the sides and up to shoulder height while bringing your shoulder blades together [B]. Slowly lower the dumbbells and return them to the start position. Keep your upper body stationary throughout the movement. Do 2 to 3 sets of 10 to 12 reps.

Barbell Shrug

Target Muscles: upper trapezius

Synergist Muscles: middle traps, levator scapulae

Set Up: Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart. Hold a barbell or EZ bar with an overhand, shoulder-width grip [A].

Action: Slowly shrug your shoulders straight up by contracting your upper trapezius muscle [B]. Slowly return to the start position. Do 2 to 3 sets of 10 reps.

Stiff-Legged Deadlift

Target Muscles: hamstrings

Synergist Muscles: gluteus maximus, erector spinae, adductor magnus

Set Up: Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart and hold a barbell or EZ bar at arm’s length, maintaing a slight bend in your knees [A].

Action: Begin the movement by pushing your hips back, sliding the barbell along the front of your thighs as you lower it to shin level. Keep your back flat, and don’t let it round at any point. You should feel a stretch in your hamstrings as you descend. Lower until your chest is almost parallel to the floor or just before the point at which your back starts to round [B]. Contract your glutes and push your hips forward to return to the start position. Do 2 to 3 sets of 10 to 12 reps.