How Long It Takes To Get a V-Back (Realistic Time Frame)

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A man flexing his v-back muscles.
Eric flexing the “V” muscles in his back.

For me, developing a V look in my back took about 6 years of consistent training.

This is mainly because I spent the first four or five learning how to engage my lat muscles properly to spark optimal growth.

These muscles create the V, but they can take a long time to develop significantly.

On average, getting a V-shaped back takes roughly 4.5 years. This is the accumulated time it takes most trainees to learn proper lat training techniques, see noticeable growth, and then reveal more definitions by cutting body fat.

I’ll explain how I came up with this estimate, along with the individual factors that affect the speed at which you’re able to develop the V.

How I Found the Average Time To Build a V-Back

The lats, with assistance from the teres major, are the main back muscle that gives the “V” appearance to your back. For many, exercising this muscle can be difficult at first since they often feel their biceps working more than their lats during lat pulldowns for example.

With this in mind, I conducted a poll on Instagram asking how many years of training it took for people to learn proper lat engagement. Out of 114 responses, 24% said they currently can’t engage them.

I didn’t include this group in my calculations, which may have impacted the overall average time it takes to develop the V (4.5 years). However, the average time it took for people who have learned proper lat training was 2.51 years.

Some lat growth will occur by training in general, even if you aren’t able to engage them effectively yet. But once you can engage them properly, they’ll grow at a faster rate.

When a muscle receives proper stimulation, noticeable muscle growth takes place within 12 weeks. Because the lats are so large, this growth will be spread out, so you probably won’t be super wide just yet.

At this point, you’ll probably gain around 0.125 LBs of muscle per month between the lats and teres major. They might gain 3.24 LBs after about 2 years of targeting them.

This will result in a fairly noticeable change in size as you begin to develop wider lats. Now would be the time to cut weight to push the muscles tighter to your skin and lose excess belly fat.

If you want an actionable process on how to start building the V-shaped back, check out my article here.

This table shows the average time it generally takes for each step in the process of building and revealing a V-shape back:

1. Time to Learn Proper Lat Training2. Time to Build Noticeable Lat Muscle3. Time to Cut Bodyfat and Reveal the V
2.51 years2 years3 months

Of course, my numbers could be way off, but the total amount of time between these three steps is 4.76 years, which I rounded down to 4.5.

  • The average time it takes to learn proper training techniques for the lats and teres major is 2.51 years.
  • From there, it takes about 2 years to build a significant amount of muscle mass in these areas.
  • To reveal the wide upper back to narrow waist ratio will take an additional 3 months.

This is the timeline you can expect if you’re just starting to work towards the V. There are also individual factors that may speed up or slow down the time it takes.

Contributing Factors to How Fast You Can Build a V-Back

You may be thinking “Well, my friend has been working out for 6 months and already has massive lats and a tiny waist”. This is possible as some people’s muscles are highly responsive to working out.

They might also just have good lat insertions with a naturally narrow waist. The timeline I gave is the average that was calculated based on answers from both genetic freaks and regular people.

Genetics Effect the Insertions and Size of Your Lats

Genetics have a large impact on how long it will take to develop the V-back. For instance, some people’s upper and lower lats are inserted on their back at a perfect angle that looks exactly like a V.

Others have wide upper lats with narrow lower lat insertions so they don’t have the natural V right off the bat. Focus more on lower lat exercises if this is the case for you.

It’s also worth mentioning that testosterone levels and bone density impact how fast and how much muscle your body will gain. Some people have more testosterone and larger bones naturally, increasing the rate at which their lats grow.

The Length of Time You’ve Been Training

The longer you’ve been training the slower your muscle gains will be, especially if your lats are already developed or close to their genetic limit. However, if your lats are a weak point and you start focusing on them, they’ll grow faster.

In the latter case, people with more general training experience are more likely to grow underdeveloped lats faster than untrained individuals.

This is because the more experienced people may be able to learn proper lat engagement faster once they begin focusing on it.

Your Lifestyle and Nutrition Choices Outside of the Gym

Getting enough QUALITY sleep, eating 0.8 to 1 gram of protein per pound of body weight, and regulating your stress levels are all important factors for both the muscle growth and fat loss phases involved in getting the V-back.

The less dialed in you are with these components the less your lats will grow over that two-year growth phase. This will make your cutting phase less effective since you won’t have built a solid foundation to reveal a quality V.

Age Impacts Your Ability To Gain Muscle

Around the age of 40, testosterone and bone density begin decreasing. This may impact the amount of muscle you’re able to build during the growth phase.

You’ll still gain a good amount of size in your lats, but the timeline may be longer.

The Areas You Store Body Fat

I’ve always been lucky in the sense that I don’t store very much body fat in my upper back or love handles. This helps me retain a decent-looking V even when bulking.

Furthermore, you can’t choose where your body stores fat and it can’t be spot-reduced. This impacts your back-to-waist width ratio and determines if you’ll have to enter a fat loss phase and how long that phase will take to reveal the V.

Eric De Cremer
Eric De Cremer

Eric is an NCCA-accredited Certified Personal Trainer and competitively trained powerlifter. Feel free to contact him anytime at!