Tapered Troy: How Troy Alves Built the Classic V-Taper that Ruled the USA
By Sammi Michaels
As bodybuilding moves deeper into the new millennium, top competitors continue to push the boundaries of extreme muscularity. Eye-popping, skin-stretching slabs of muscle seem to expand at an incredible rate. Great news, right? Isn’t that what being a top bodybuilder is all about?
Not so fast, my friend. The cost of all that additional muscle has, for many, resulted in the loss of something far more important…a tapered physique. Whether it’s the all too common distended stomachs that are becoming the norm on amateur and pro stages everywhere or a lack of attention to the muscle groups that create dramatic taper, the classic “V” that has long been considered a cornerstone of the ideal physique is becoming a rare site.
The Classic V-Taper
Ahh, but if you are one of the dying breeds who display a dramatic taper with great conditioning, one thing is for sure. As the judges scan the stage for the best physiques that day, get ready for an early call out. Nothing, and I mean nothing, will grab their attention quicker than terrific taper.
Ask the judges holding court over the heavyweight class at the 2002 USA Championships. They couldn’t miss superstar Troy Alves the minute he stepped onstage. Troy displayed the most dramatic taper in the class, complete with wide, thick, shredded back and shoulder muscle that tapered into a peeled, compact midsection. Yes, tremendous Troy obliterated the class in the 21st century by displaying the classic “V” made popular hundreds of years before in ancient Greek mythology. Talk about going old school!
How did Amazing Alves create the classic look that could help you get noticed onstage or at the beach? As you’re about to find out, he used a combination of hard, basic training and smart contest preparation to become the USA Heavyweight Champion and earn his coveted I.F.B.B. pro card.
Troy Talks Taper
“I’m very proud of the taper and shape of my physique. While I always had great arms, building dramatic shape into my upper body is the result of intensely blasting and focusing my attention on my side delts and lats.”
But that’s only half the equation.
“Of course, the other thing that comes into play with taper is a small, tight waist. And that’s all about my parents passing along good genetics, solid contest preparation and resisting the temptation to pack more muscle on my frame than my symmetry can handle. I’ve seen too many pros pack on pounds and pounds of muscle while their midsection expanded and destroyed the pleasing, tapered look that got them there in the first place. I’m not going to go that route.”
As you can tell, Troy is one smart, analytical bodybuilder who knows his physique.
The Ultimate Taper Program
Taper Component 1: Side Delts
As you can imagine, impressive development of the side head of the deltoid is absolutely critical to having an awesome taper. When viewed from the front, the wider the delts and smaller the waist, the more outstanding the V shape is going to appear. Troy’s exercise of choice for this area is the old standby, side laterals.
“Luckily for me, delts are my favorite bodypart to train. I’m a big believer in good old fashioned hard work with basic exercises, so my exercise of choice for the side head is dumbbell laterals, either seated or standing.”
Troy begins the movement with a warmup set of 15 reps with a relatively lightweight to get the blood flowing and cut the risk of injury. His form is perfect. Beginning the movement with his arms hanging straight down at his sides and the dumbbell against his outer thigh, Troy begins to raise the weight out to the side in a slow and deliberate fashion. He brings the dumbbells to shoulder level before slowly lowering them back to the starting position. After his warmup set, Troy will do three sets of ten reps, working up to 60-pound dumbbells. He usually alternates the standing and seated versions of this movement from one workout to the next.
Taper Component 2: Lat Width
The other muscular component of V-taper is the width of your lats. Again, old school Alves sticks with the basics.
“I rarely do lat pulldowns. The majority of my lat development is from years of wide grip chins to the front. I start the movement with my arms in the full hanging position and pull myself up until my upper chest touches the chinning bar. I keep my body arched back as I chin and I keep my grip as wide as my arms will allow me to go.”
Troy starts his back workouts with chins when he’s fresh and does three to four sets of ten reps. While he does the warmup set with just his bodyweight, he will work up to his final set with a 100-pound dumbbell strapped between his legs.
Taper Component 3: A Lean, Tight Midsection
While genetics play a big role in your waist structure, it’s up to you to have it as small and shredded as you possibly can. You may not have a naturally wasp-like waist like Troy, but the leaner it is and the better your abs appear, the more impressive your taper will look.
“This year, my midsection was the leanest its ever been, by far, and my waist was smaller than it’s been since I was a light-heavyweight. I owe that to being in the best condition of I’ve ever been in my life. The ridges of my abs were also deeper and thicker. I have to give my coach, Larry Pepe, a lot of credit for that. I started working with him one month after taking second at last year’s USA Championships and it made all the difference. He had me training abs all year, changed my offseason and precontest preparations nutritionally, revamped my cardio and did some different things during the peaking process. The results speak for themselves.”
For his razor-sharp abs, Troy again stays with the basics. For his upper abs, he does lying crunches. He begins by lying on the floor or a flat bench and clasping his hands behind his head. He begins the movement by slowly bringing his torso off the bench using only the strength of his abdominals. Troy intensely squeezes his abs in the contracted position before slowly allowing his body to return to the starting position. He’ll do 20 controlled reps for three to four sets.
For lower abs, Troy opts for lying leg raises. He begins with his legs straight out and a few inches above parallel to the ground. From there he will raise his legs about 18 inches or so, keeping constant tension on his peeled middle. Then he returns his legs to the starting position. Three to four sets of fifteen to twenty reps do the trick for Troy here as well.
A Bright Future
Troy the businessman isn’t doing too bad either. He signed a contract in March 2002 with a new bodybuilding supplement company called SprayFlex that believed in him well before his pro graduation.
“SprayFlex makes an amazing line of natural growth hormone, testosterone and fat burning products that are taken under the tongue for quick absorption. They are unlike anything I’ve ever used. Look at my physique (and placings) at the 2001 USA compared to the 2002 USA. They made a huge difference in my size, strength and condition. They’re so unique that my agreement with SprayFlex is non-exclusive, so I’m available to sign with any company that produces regular types of products because there is no conflict. You can check them out at www.SprayFlex.com.”
As Troy savors his USA win and readies himself to take aim at the pro ranks, he does so with confidence, respect and excitement.
“I’m so anxious to get up there and trade shots with all of those guys. I respect everyone, but fear no one. I think that I have a very realistic view of my physique, a great support system and that I’m turning pro at the right time.”
At 5-8 and 215 pounds in shredded condition, Alves brings an outstanding collection of bodyparts highlighted by a pleasing, densely muscled taper that few pros can match. Troy’s “V” spelt victory for him at the 2002 USA Championships. Don’t be surprised if it carries him into the winner’s circle as he ascends the pro ranks as well.
You can reach Troy for guest posings, appearances, sponsorship inquiries or personal training at this website, www.TroyAlves.com. You can learn about the SprayFlex products Troy uses at www.SprayFlex.com.