Bodybuilding is the art of the illusion. The biggest man doesn’t always win. Rather, the man who looks the biggest, while displaying superior conditioning and presentation, usually wins. Very often, the most complete middleweight wins amateur shows, while the lankier heavyweight has to settle on his class win.
One of the most important illusions that bodybuilders can present onstage is the V-taper. Simply put, the V-taper is the illusion that occurs when the waist is narrow and the shoulders are wide. The upper body resembles a letter “V”. An effective V-taper makes the physique look more athletic, and makes the chest and thighs appear larger as well. To achieve a v-taper, one must work to ensure the waistline stays small in the off-season yet appears muscular on the bodybuilding stage.
Most bodybuilders know how to train the upper abdominals. Crunches are king, and always have been (at least since the sit-up became extinct). An interesting strategy employed by many bodybuilders is to avoid off-season upper abdominal training, opting only to train abs in the 6 to 8 weeks before a show. This allows the midsection to remain trim all year round (without the well-developed sheet of muscle underneath protruding) and still leaves enough time for the bodybuilder to shape them before the contest nears.
This region is under-developed on many bodybuilders. Partially covered by the posing trunks, many bodybuilders simply neglect the region. This is a mistake, as most bodybuilding shows are won not upon strong areas, but by who has the least weak areas. Lower abdominals should be occasionally trained in the off-season. The goal isn’t to have them fully developed all year, rather, to have a base of development there for full-out pre-contest abdominal training. The lower abdominals don’t receive as much secondary stimulation as the upper abdominals receive.
Heavy compound movements like squats and deadlifts have an amazing effect of adding mass all over the body. While this is very advantageous for those looking to add muscle mass to the frame, it can be frustrating to those looking to keep the waistline measurements down. Weigh your goals. If you determine the mass is already there and that the waistline reduction is more important, cut out heavy compound movements for a bit and allow the obliques to shrink. Remember, when you achieve a low level of body fat, they will display quite well. Smaller obliques equal a greater V-taper.