To achieve that aesthetically pleasing "V-shape," it's important to focus your fitness on your shoulders. The V-Shape isn't just important for men. Ladies, with properly formed shoulders, you'll not only look great in tank tops, but it also gives the illusion of a smaller waistline.
Muscles To Recruit
The muscle that is involved in shoulder activities is the deltoid. This includes the front, or anterior, deltoid, middle deltoid and rear, or posterior, deltoid. In addition to the deltoid muscle, you'll need to work the lattisimus muscle, a back muscle, for the desired v-shape. While the lats are not part of the shoulder, they are a key component of completing the desired v-shape.
A recent study done at the University of Wisconsin-Lacrosse and sponsored by the American Council on Exercise, identified some of the most effective exercises for shoulder development. Exercises such as the dumbbell press and dumbbell raise target the posterior, middle, and anterior parts of the deltoid.
The primary exercises recruiting your deltoid muscles are:
Dumbbell Press: The dumbbellpress is one of the best exercises one can complete for your shoulders because it works all parts of your deltoids. This exercise is completed by starting the dumbbell at shoulder height and raising the dumbbell overhead. Do this from a standing or seated position.
Lateral Dumbbell Raise: The lateral dumbbell raise is a key movement for the tops of your shoulders -- the lateral deltoids. Start by standing with a dumbbell in each hand. Contract your abs and lift the dumbbells out to your sides and up to shoulder height. Lower down with control and repeat.
Dumbbell Front Raise: Similar to the lateral dumbbell raise, this exercise begins by standing with a dumbbell in each hand. Contract your abs and lift the dumbbells up and out in front of you up until at shoulder height. Lower down with control and repeat.
Battling Ropes: Battling ropes are a cardio and shoulder exercise. Start by standing in an athletic stance with your knees slightly bent into a semi-squat position. One handle of the rope should be placed in each hand. With power, raise your right arm up like the dumbbell front raise and quickly slam it down as your left arm raises up. Alternate bringing the rope up and down as quickly as possible while you keep your core tight.
Push-Ups: Push-ups are one of the best shoulder exercises you can perform according to the American Council on Exercise and you don't need any extra equipment. Start by placing your hands underneath your shoulders with your legs extended behind you and feet on the ground. With your body in a plank position -- arms extended, core tight, back flat, and glutes squeezed -- lower your body down to the ground so that your chest touches the ground. As soon as your chest touches the ground, push away from the floor and return to the starting position by fully extending your arms.
Use the following supplementary exercises to work your lattisimus dorsi, or back muscles, that will be key in achieving a v-shape.
Pull-Ups: This compound movement uses multiple muscle groups to perform the exercise. Your lattisimus dorsi (lats) and biceps are recruited making this movement key in developing the v-shape. This exercise is performed by grasping an elevated bar with your palms facing away from you. For the best lat recruitment, place your hands 1.5 times as wide as your shoulders. Engage your core and pull your lats down as you pull your chin up and over the bar. Think of squeezing a penny in between your lats. Lower down with control and repeat.
Lat Pull-Down: A study published in a 2013 issue of the Journal of Strength & Conditioning Research found that a lat pull-down positioned with the bar in front of the face and held with an overhand grip is the optimum variation for strengthening the latissimus dorsi. The shoulders are important in developing the v-shape, but the latissimus dorsi will also play the role of key support muscles in developing the desired v-shape. Sit on a lat pull-down machine for this move and lower the bar to your collar bones and back up.