How to Get a V-Taper Naturally (3 steps, scary simplicity)

| by Truth Seeker |


The road to a V-taper consists of three steps:

Step 1: Lose body fat

Trillions of pages have been written on the subject of fat loss. Yet the process is fairly simple for most healthy individuals – consume fewer calories than you burn.

But the actual problem is not a lack of information. It’s the environment.

Modern existence facilitates lard accumulation through three avenues:

Availability. Fattening food (e.g., fast carbohydrates) is everywhere. It’s also cheap and delicious.

Dopamine. The pandemic put us in an unpleasant lockdown, but the truth is that contemporary human existence lacked flavor and adventure beforehand too.

The average human cycle consists of perpetual slaving to the economic furnace and a multitude of sterile simulations designed to elevate your adrenaline in a controlled manner, numb you, and keep you docile. (If you like similar hate, check out A Hater’s Synthesis 2).   

The dopamine that you get from bad food is one of those numbing factors too.

Few things feel as good as watching a new episode of your favorite TV show while filling yourself with popcorn and chocolate.

Lack of movement. Most people are extremely sedentary and spent the vast majority of their time in front of a computer. You can say that we’ve “evolved” to this stage by being adaptive and smart, but even if one was to accept this ludicrous notion as true, our inherent biology will never agree – our bodies have to do something throughout the day.

The paragraphs above describe why it’s so hard to lose fat – the habitat that you reside in is strongly against it.

We hope that a new eating method will finally help us hack nutrition and gives us a pathway to a slim figure while consuming whatever we want. For better or worse, there are no hacks.

The most simple and proven way to lose fat consists of the following measures:

1. Reduce the bad foods that you eat

Eating clean 100% of the time is a lost cause in most cases. If you can do it, more power to you. But the environment and the cravings for processed food that we’ve been nurtured with decrease most people’s chances of succeeding to practically zero.

Therefore, in most cases, it’s better to practice predicted failure.

Instead of pretending that you’ll never break your plan, you plan when and how much to break it.

If you limit the junk to 10-15% of your total food consumption, you would be eating healthier than the vast majority of the population.

2. Do cardio

Contrary to popular belief, cardio isn’t your enemy. Don’t listen to the 5×5 squat fanatics who sacrifice everything in the name of the Squat Lord. A few cardio sessions after your muscle-building routines will not kill your gains.

3. Drop the calories

Even if you eat the best foods on earth, you will still gain fat or fail to lose any, if you don’t reduce your overall caloric intake.

In theory, the best way to accomplish that is to count calories.

Calorie counting may be useful in the beginning to find out where you stand in terms of caloric intake, but doing it forever is just not realistic.

A simpler system to accomplish a similar effect would be:

  • Reduce bad foods
  • Replace high caloric foods with others containing fewer calories
  • Skip a meal
  • Decrease meal size by 10%-40%

Why should a man lose weight to get a V-taper?

A V-taper combines a slim waist and a wide back. You don’t need shredded abs to get a V-taper, but you can’t allow yourself to have a massive spare tire around your stomach either.

For that very reason, many permabulkers acquire a square taper – a square-shaped body the result of 1:1 waist to shoulder ratio.

In some severe cases, permabulkers end up with a reverse V-taper a.k.a. a pyramid – a highly unaesthetic case when your waist is ever so slightly wider than your shoulders.

FAQ: How many calories should I consume?

It’s hard to answer this question with certainty. Counting calories is always an estimation.

But in general, the Lyle McDonald starting formula for losing weight works fairly well.

The formula is: 10-12 cal/lb (read more)

If you weigh 190lbs, this amounts to 1900-2280 calories.

Ultimately, however, you will have to experiment and see if it works for you. Eventually, you may have to cut the calories even further.

Step 2: Build up your lats and teres major

The “V” in V-taper comes from the latissimus dorsi and the teres major – a small muscle under the rear deltoid known as the lat little helper.

The go-to exercises for lat construction are pull-ups, chin-ups, and lat pulldowns – all done with a narrow or close grip.

Surprisingly to some, the lats work harder when you’re pulling with a close grip because:

  1. The stretch on the muscle is greater.
  2. The range of motion is longer.
  3. The angle of pull makes it easier for the lat to contribute to the lift.

However, the wide-grip version is still beneficial as it increases the stress on the teres major which also contributes to back width.

A mixture of both grips will optimize the plan.

FAQ: Should I do chin-ups or pull-ups? Both are fine, but many people find it easier to activate their lats during chin-ups.

Back Width Program (Lats and Teres Major Focus)

Day 1 Day 2 Day 3
Chin-ups – 5xF* Pull-ups – 5xF Chin-ups – 5xF
Wide grip lat pulldowns – 3×8-12 Wide grip lat pulldowns – 3×8-12 Wide grip lat pulldowns – 3×8-12

 5xF* stands for five sets to failure without form breakdown

The second movement is a wide grip pulldown instead of a wide grip pull-up because most people would have a hard time accumulating a decent volume of wide grip pull-ups after five sets of close grip work.

The lat pulldown makes it possible to reduce the weight to whatever number’s necessary to get more muscle-building reps in.

But if you have the strength and endurance, you can replace the lat pulldown with wide grip pull-ups.

If you don’t have access to a lat pulldown machine, consider the following alternatives:

  1. Lat pulldowns with resistance bands
  2. Wide grip jackknife pull-ups
  3. Wide grip bodyweight rows

Step 3: Building the shoulders

The shoulders are a small muscle group, but they have a tremendous impact on one’s width due to their placement. For complete effect, all three heads (anterior, lateral and posterior) have to be hit.

The good news is that the front and rear deltoids rarely need direct work – pressing and pulling exercises take care of them.

The side deltoid may require a little extra attention even though movements like the overhead press activate it.

The most straightforward exercise to hit the mid-delt are lateral raises with a dumbbell, a cable, or a resistance band.

To keep the tension on the side delts, consider the following pointers:

  • Keep the pinky finger higher than your thumb at the top position. This small adjustment greatly increases the involvement of the mid-delt. If you cannot keep the pinky higher than the thumb, the weight is too much, and the body is trying to get help from the anterior deltoid.
  • Pause at the top of the movement for a second.

Another fine lateral deltoid exercise is the Scott Press with dumbbells – a modified partial overhead press designed to increase the stress on the side and posterior deltoids.

Example Programs Combining It All Together

Option 1: Calisthenics Focus

Day 1 Day 2 Day 3
Chin-ups – 5xF Pull-ups – 5xF Chin-ups – 5xF
Dips – 5xF Decline push-ups – 5xF Dips – 5xF
Wide grip bodyweight rows – 3×8-12 Wide grip jackknife pull-ups– 3×8-12 Wide grip bodyweight rows – 3×8-12
Side Laterals – 4×8-12 Side Laterals – 4×8-12 Side Laterals – 4×8-12

 Option 2: Weights + Calisthenics

Day 1 Day 2 Day 3
Chin-ups – 5xF Pull-ups – 5xF Chin-ups – 5xF
Incline/Flat Bench Press – 3×6-12 Overhead press – 3×6-12 Incline/Flat Bench Press – 3×6-12
Wide grip lat pulldowns – 3×8-12 Wide grip jackknife pull-ups– 3×8-12 Wide grip lat pulldowns – 3×8-12
Side Laterals – 4×8-12 Side Laterals – 2×8-12 Side Laterals – 4×8-12

 Option 3: Integrated Leg Training

Day 1 Day 2 Day 3
Chin-ups – 5xF High Bar Squats – 2×5, 2×8-12 Romanian Deadlifts – 3×6-8
Dips – 5xF Pull-ups – 5xF Dips – 5xF
Wide grip bodyweight rows – 3×8-12 Decline push-ups – 5xF Leg Curls – 3×8-10
Side Laterals – 4×8-12 Wide grip jackknife pull-ups– 3×8-12 Chin-ups – 3xF
Side Laterals – 4×8-12 Wide grip bodyweight rows – 2×8-12
Side Laterals – 4×8-12

Option 4: Minimalist

This is a routine for people who don’t like doing many exercises and don’t have access to an equipped gym.

Day 1 Day 2 Day 3
Chin-ups – 5xF Wide Grip Pull-ups – 3xF Chin-ups – 5xF
Decline Push-ups – 5xF Dips – 5xF Decline Push-ups – 5xF
Side Laterals – 4×8-12 Side Laterals – 4×8-12 Side Laterals – 4×8-12

If you don’t have dumbbells or resistance bands at home for the lateral raises, you can use water bottles with a handle. After all, you don’t need a lot of weight for the exercise.

Why Bodyweight Training Could Give You a V-Taper the Fastest

The two main conditions to get a V-taper are to lose fat if you’re fat and to get your back and shoulders as wide as possible. Therefore, all exercises that push you in that direction should do the trick.

However, calisthenics/bodyweight training comes with unique features that make it a highly suitable path for naturals trying to get a V-taper.

The benefits of bodyweight training are:

  • Positive reinforcement when leaning out

When you lose body fat, bodyweight exercises become easier, and your repetitions per set go up. The improvement has a positive effect on your mental state and validates your training as effective on a conscious and subconscious level.

Weight lifting operates on a different principle – the lighter you are, the weaker you become. It’s easier to move heavy barbells when you’re heavy yourself.

Many lifters obsessed with personal records get depressed during the leaning out phase because their barbell lifts go down. To compensate, they slow or halt the process and remain fatter than needed to protect their precious strength.

  • Bodyweight training is popular and fun

The calisthenics communities are strong and trending. The social status of bodyweight training in combination with its accessibility provide a great deal of motivation to become a “bodyweight beast.”

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  1. El Pacino

    Once again, another excellent post and in-deep strategy that square the circle: how to gain the famous V-taper without going fatso. A real quest for any “Hard gainer”. Simple does not mean easy but this post enlights the way. Best regards.

    1. Sandesh

      some supplements are better than other kind. From my experience, anything by Jay Cutler brand will make you big. Probably the best supplement. A good article will be to compare Jay Cutler supplement with Rich Piana (which I haven’t tried).

  2. Tony C.

    Hello again, Truth. Hope that you’re staying safe during the global epidemic. I admit that I’ve been a couch potato lately but I still move around the house when doing spring cleaning and I still carry groceries home while taking public transit. Still, I’m the same ectomorph. That reminds me, how should ectos pursue V-taper enlightenment? Feel free to reply.

    1. Truth Seeker Post author

      The same as other people – lose body fat if necessary and build up the lats and shoulders.

      1. Tony C.

        That’ll do. Great to hear from you again.

        I must ask if you’ve considered collaborating with other actual ectomorphs who’ve written blogs, too. Just food for thought.

  3. Alesund

    How would you incorporate day 1,2, and 3 in a week(M/W/F)? Thanks in advance.

  4. aoeu

    How much do I need to be able to squat to get a V-taper? 405?

    1. Truth Seeker Post author

      You don’t have to squat anything.

      P.S. I know this is a joke.

  5. Mandeep

    Is Brad Castleberry using anabolic steroids?

    1. Truth Seeker Post author

      As natural as a shark in a bottle.

  6. Im Not A Misanthrope I Swear

    Whenever I get tiny (i.e. lean) I get the “you look like Adonis” compliment, but a lot of people wonder “if I even lift”. Whenever I get big (i.e. fat) I look at myself wearing a tight shirt and I’m like “damn I move weights”. I definitely look more “lifterish”, but at the same time, no one is wet.

    Anyway, do pullups/chinups, vertical push (OHP/HSPU) work and stay lean, that’s a true advice, sounds superficial but helps still.

  7. MB

    Isn’t 10-12 cal/lb very low?
    I once read a male human body uses 1800 cal. during the day in rest.

    1. Sam

      Energy requirement:

      GS = FFM x 24
      ST = + 10%
      SDW = + 15%
      AT = + 30-80%

      Total = EB

      GS is raw material metabolism or kcal consumption in absolute rest
      VVM is lean mass or your body weight without fat
      SDW is specifically dynamic operation or kcal consumption by digestion of food
      AT is labor supplement or kcal consumption by work / study. + 30% light work to + 80% heavy work.

      If you use this formula, you will get roughly FFM x 35 kcal as GS.

    2. JIM’s about right. A man can survive on 1,300 to 1,800 cal’s. It’s not a lot is it? This is where 99% fail. The eat three big meals and a,snack, do cardio and weights but wonder why they are still getting fat…

      I simply looked at my height…decided what i had to get down to be at about 10% b.f (which is about as low as you want to go as a natural…) and then cut calories to get there…IT was *** painful some days. Without a clear goal i would not have done it.
      BUT once there maintaining is easier.

      31.5″ waist and 40 inch chest….not bad for an old man… (women love it too)

      1. Prof Plum

        Great point. I started serious weight training about a year ago as a 50+ year old guy.

        I initially slimmed down to a BMI of 21 as a skinny fat ecto by eating an ultra healthy diet. Calorific intake I would say has been in the region of 1800 cal a day with reasonable protein (about 100g a day, no more).

        I have seen great results with a pull up centered regime like the brilliant one described in this guide. Gained about 6 Ibs of muscle mass in a year – but really that is in all the right places, so it looks a lot more. Starting to see awesome changes now, and feeling great. BMI at 22 with about 15% bf.

        It is a myth that you need to eat loads to build muscle. The nat builder – especially ecto – just isn’t going to see gains better than this. Six Ibs of muscle in a year is awesome.

  8. Sam

    It is a translation from the NL, so the abbreviations do not entirely correspond, but you can probably do something with it 😉

  9. Swabbie

    If you want to drop weigt focus on real food but some junk won’t harm you – eat all but in moderation
    I eat junk every day but in small amount – that way you can satisfy your sweet tooth and avoid binge eating

    1. Tony C.

      That I believe as well. As an ectomorph myself, I’ve eaten burgers once or twice a week on several occasions with no consequence. Don’t know if those burgers helped towards making gains, though.

    2. JIM

      Well the problem with this is it adds to your calories very fast…so how will you cut calories? Junk/beer won’t kill it but it makes it a lot harder.
      1 tin tuna 120 cal’s = 2 chocolate biscuits…. SADLY

  10. Larry

    Modern phone apps like myfitnesspal make it simple to count calories. Calories in vs calories out.

  11. JIm

    Best way work out what you need to get down to…equate that to calories….work on a system to do it as quick as possible.

    I ended doing 48 hour fasts and other day <1,800 cal's…

    Like i said it was painful some times..but after 6 weeks i did it.
    Now i do not need to be so hard but still careful

  12. Willie

    Would you still recommend 3x/week for older (50+) lifters?

    1. Truth Seeker Post author

      You can try it and cut back if it’s too much. You can reduce the sets too.

  13. Alex

    So which routine would you recommend for general aesthetics, the arms, chest, lats focused routine or weights + leg training integrated?

  14. Prof Plum

    For me, this is the ultimate guide for natural ecto above-average-height man who wants to look good at any age (probably 30%+ of the male population).

    There are certainly many disadvantages with being a tall skinny guy, but getting a V taper isn’t one of them. We are ideally suited for the lean V taper athlete look – that women love. Such guys should consider the V taper as the ultimate aim. Ecto’s probably find it easiest to lose weight. If we focus on building the shoulder girdle, then the V taper is a real possibility. Forget squats and deadlifts – pull ups and shoulder presses are the way to go. We should be aspiring to physiques like ‘Rain’ of ‘Fight Club Brad Pitt’. These are real targets to strive for,

    Reading this, I am excited about the possibilities – a year into training I am already seeing great results. Awesome guide.

  15. Richard Amir Alexander

    Revisiting this one after a few years…
    Pinky up (internal rotation) = Guaranteed shoulder impingement.
    We all live and learn better ways over time. peace and respect to you truth seeker.

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