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Your body needs healthy amounts of fat to perform some critical functions such as regulating your core temperature, storing energy, and facilitating proper digestion.
Conversely, inadequate fat intake can increase your risk of vitamin deficiencies, hormonal issues, and nervous system damage.
According to the American Council on Exercise, healthy women are advised to maintain 21%–35% of body fat, whereas healthy men should aim for 8%–24% of body fat. (1)
However, if you consume too much fat on a regular basis, it will collect inside the body and lead to unwanted weight gain. Different people have different problem areas that are prone to excess fat accumulation, but the abdomen, thighs, hips, and lower back figure among the most common ones.
This article will focus on ways to get rid of back fat, which can be a particularly difficult area to tone up.
Generally, if you want to lose fat from any part of the body, you will have to reduce your overall weight. The best way to do this is through a combination of healthy eating, regular exercise, and strict calorie control. Shedding the extra pounds will help slim down your entire body, including your back. (2)
Causes for Excessive Back Fat
Here are some common factors responsible for excess back fat:
- Consuming excessive sugar, sodium, and calories in your regular diet
- Leading a sedentary life
- Growing old
- Poor posture
Exercises to Get Rid of Back Fat Fast
You need to work out your muscles to keep them strong, tight, and well toned.
The muscles at the back of the body don’t get used as often as the ones in the front, which can render them loose and weak over time. If your back muscles become loose, they won’t be able to hold the body fat in place, which will sag and bulge out in odd areas as in the case of love handles.
So, you have to make a conscious effort to strengthen the glutes, hamstrings, and back muscles. Here are a few exercises that can help you do that.
The first thing you need to do is install a pull-up bar at your home.
Then, you must attempt a few negative pull-ups that focus on the latter part of a pull-up, where you lower your body from the bar. This will help strengthen your upper body muscles and improve your grip to better prepare you for full pull-ups.
To perform negative pull-ups:
- Begin with your chin slightly above the bar. You can stand on a stable object such as a chair, step ladder, or sturdy box to get in this starting position.
- Hold the bar tightly with your palms facing outward and your chin raised above the bar.
- Engage the muscles in your middle back for strength instead of relying on your arm muscles, and squeeze your shoulder blades together.
- Get off the support object such that your feet are suspended in the air.
- Gradually lower yourself from the bar in a controlled manner to maximize resistance during the descent. Don’t release or hang your body in one quick go as this will neither build muscle strength nor acquaint your body with the pattern of muscle movements.
- Stop when your body is in a dead hang position with your arms fully stretched out above your head and stay like this for 3–5 seconds.
- Slowly bring yourself up to the top again.
- Repeat 5–10 times before moving on to full pull-ups.
To perform full pull-ups:
- Starting from the bottom, push your body upward by engaging your back, shoulders, and arms.
- Lower yourself back again in a controlled manner.
- Repeat 5–10 times.
- Lie face down on a flat surface.
- Pull up your chest by engaging your back muscles.
- Extend your arms sideways to make a “T” shape with the body and stay in this position for a few seconds.
- Gradually move the arms to form a “Y” and hold this position for a few seconds.
- Slowly move the arms straight ahead into an “I.”
- Do 5–12 reps.
Note: You can do this exercise with light dumbbells to increase the difficulty later on.
3. Plank with an arm raise
- Start on your hands and knees with your palms placed on the floor directly below the shoulders in a straight line while your feet should be hip-width apart.
- Suck in your belly button and stabilize your core.
- Slowly raise your body off the ground to assume the top position of a push-up. Your head and heel should be in a straight line.
- Stabilize your hips, abdomen, and shoulders while flexing your glutes. This is known as a straight-arm plank and is your starting position.
- Extend one arm sideways until it is in line with your shoulder.
- Hold this position for a few seconds.
- Slowly bring the raised arm back down to your side.
- Lift the other arm to the side in the same way and hold for a few seconds.
- Perform 2–3 sets of 10 repetitions with each arm.
Note: If the exercise becomes too easy, you can increase the resistance by holding very light hand weights while lifting the arm.
4. Side crunches
- Keep a Swiss ball a few feet away from a wall.
- Place one of your hips against the ball, and bury your stretched-out feet in the crux of the wall and floor.
- Lock your fingers behind your head.
- Move the raised elbow toward the wall until your upper body is almost upright.
- Move the lower elbow toward the floor to stretch your rib cage before lifting your torso back toward the wall.
5. Bent-over dumbbell rows
- Stand up straight with your feet buried firmly into the ground at hip-width distance from each other.
- Grab a dumbbell in each hand with your palms facing each other.
- Slightly bend your knees and move your upper body forward from the waist above until it is at a 60-degree angle. Make sure to keep your spine straight.
- Hang your arms directly in front of you, perpendicular to the floor. This will be your starting position.
- Without moving your torso, bend your elbows and pull the weights to your side while contracting your back muscles and breathing out. Make sure to keep your arms close to the body.
- Hold this pose for a second.
- Slowly bring down the dumbbells back to the starting position as you inhale.
- Repeat 10 times.
- Lie face down with your arms and legs stretched out.
- Slowly raise your head, limbs, and upper back off the ground.
- Stay in this position for several seconds.
- Gradually lower yourself back to the starting position.
- Do 10–15 reps.
7. Dumbbell (or Kettlebell) swing
- Grab a dumbbell from the middle using both your hands, one in front of the other.
- Stand up straight with your feet shoulder-width apart.
- Squat without bending your spine and move the weight in between your legs such that it is behind your body.
- Tighten your glutes and thrust your hips forward to stand up, and raise the dumbbell up to chest level. Keep your arms straight throughout the exercise.
- When the weight reaches its highest position, contract your glutes, quads, and core.
- Squat again, and let the weight swing back between your legs.
- Repeat 10–15 times.
8. Resistance band pull-down
- Stretch out your arms at a 45-degree angle from the shoulders, and grab the middle of the resistance band with both hands together.
- Pull the band closer to your chest by bending your elbows and moving your hands away from each other.
- Move the band back to the starting position in a controlled manner.
Additional workout tips
These measures can help you get a more shapely back.
Do cardio intervals
Cardio training includes a range of exercises that quickly increase your heart rate to burn calories faster. This includes running, skipping ropes, jumping jacks, cycling, and elliptical workout.
These exercises may not specifically target back fat, but they help you burn excess fat from all over the body. In fact, cardio is considered to be one of the fastest ways to lose weight.
What can make it even more effective in fat burning is to include brief resting periods between intense cardio exercises. This is known as cardio interval training, which keeps the heart pumping fast for a few hours after the workout. Thus, you end up burning more calories over an extended period, even when you are not exercising.
Try to include at least half an hour of cardio in your workout routine, most days of the week.
Try a bit of yoga
Stress can stimulate the release of a hormone called cortisol, which is known to contribute to excess fat accumulation all over the body. (3) Thus, it is essential to keep stress under control.
One of the easiest ways to do that is through yoga. This ancient form of exercise is deeply meditative, which makes it a great stress buster.
Yoga not only relaxes your mind and body, but it also stretches and strengthens your back and core muscles.
Other Tips and Tricks to Curb Back Fat
These simple lifestyle changes can help you get a slimmer, more sculpted back:
1. Get proper sleep
There is some evidence to suggest that inadequate sleep can make one more prone to weight gain.
For instance, one research review showed that teenagers who did not get enough good-quality sleep were more likely to become obese. Moreover, scientists suggest that lack of sleep may slow down metabolism or the rate at which the body burns calories. (4)
Thus, it is crucial that you get 7–8 hours of restorative sleep on a regular basis.
2. Fix your posture
A lot of people ruin their body posture by always hunching their spine. This not only causes fat to collect around the abdomen and back but also accentuates these pudgy areas.
3. Eat healthily
The best way to achieve healthy weight loss and sustain it for a long time is to combine regular exercise with proper calorie control. You will only start to lose weight when you burn more calories than you consume.
You may have to reduce your overall food intake but not to the extent that it compromises your nutritional needs. Besides, the type of foods you eat is more important than how much you eat.
Adopt a clean, well-balanced diet that runs low on calories, sugar, carbs, and sodium while including more antioxidants, fiber, and proteins. It’s best to consult a nutritionist to come up with a diet that meets all your individual nutritional needs while also facilitating a calorific deficit.
There are no exercises that target fat in any specific area of the body, but there are exercises that can strengthen and tone specific muscle groups.
The above-listed exercises can help you build muscle mass in the back, which will inadvertently make you lose excess fat from that area. This is because muscle will replace the fat.
Plus, they help strengthen and tighten the back muscles that already exist so that they can hold the fat in place.