It is annoying to reach around to your back and grab onto fat folds. That is back fat, often seen by women under their bra band. And men get it too! For them it is easily noticeable when they wear tight sweaters or shirts. Because of this, many people have had to stop wearing specific clothes to try to hide back fat. The best thing anyone can do is get rid of back fat once and for all. So what would this look like? Join us as we look at the most practical ways to lose upper back fat for good.
Where Is Your Back Fat?
- Upper Back. This is one of the most attacked areas by back fat. It is easy for a woman to tell if they have upper back fat when there is excess fat spilling over the back of their bra straps.
- Middle Back. You may also notice excess back fat around your mid-back. It usually forms folds near the back of your waist, which dooes not sit well with women, especially rocking bear back tops or dresses.
- Lower Back. The last part of your back where you may notice a pocket of fat is on your lower back. The fat deposits in your lower back tend to sit over the top of your pants, shorts, or skirts, often looking like muffin tops.
The best way to tell which area is attacked by back fat is by looking at yourself in a mirror. If possible, let it be a tall mirror that allows you to stand tall without forming body lines. This will make it less troublesome to spot the area of your back where fat holds.
How Do You Lose Upper Back Fat?
There are two scientifically proven effective ways of decreasing your overall body fat. These involve exercising and proper dieting (8). Let us analyze the two to get a deeper understanding of how they help in toning your upper back.
You can never go wrong when eating clean. When you do that you become more aware of the foods you eat, helping you avoid high-fat and high-calorie foods which increase overall body fat. Some of the foods you are recommended to add to your diet plan to reduce upper back fat include (8):
- Nutrient-Dense Foods. These foods play a significant role in fat loss as they increase satiety. They are also loaded with beneficial nutrients such as fiber, protein, minerals, and essential vitamins. Some of these foods include lean protein like fish and poultry, legumes, beans, leafy and starchy veggies, and fruits like apples (8).
- Low-Sodium Foods. A low-sodium diet can help with fat loss by reducing bloating. Additionally, such a diet can lower blood pressure and the risk of stroke, coronary heart attack, and cardiovascular disease (5).
- High-Fiber Foods. Soluble fiber is essential in a fat loss diet because it suppresses your appetite and increases satiety, preventing overeating. Some foods rich in soluble fiber include apples, oats, citrus fruits, barley, and carrots (3).
- Weight-Loss Friendly Foods. There are foods you need to avoid if you are on a weight loss journey. Some of them include processed or junk foods and sugary foods and drinks. Instead of that it is advisable to choose weight-loss friendly foods with low-calorie counts and high nutritious profiles. These foods include whole grains, healthy fats like avocados, lean protein like lean chicken breast and beef cuts, and nutritious veggies like broccoli and cauliflower.
Besides following a clean and calorie-deficit diet, there are other lifestyle changes you can make to trigger overall fat loss. These changes bring you one step closer to burning back fat. They include (8):
- Drinking Enough Water. Unfortunately, people mistake thirst for hunger and end up overindulging. As a result, they increase their calorie limit and jeopardize their weight loss efforts by creating a calorie surplus. Drink enough water so that you can be full of zero calories.
- Get Enough Sleep. Getting adequate rest is essential because it fights the release of the hormone that triggers hunger, helping suppress your appetite.
- Plan Your Meals. Planning your meals helps you make healthier food choices that support your weight loss efforts. As a result, you stay on track with your diet goals.
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The second scientifically proven technique for losing back fat is exercise. Back exercises for back fat can further challenge the muscles in these regions.
You may have seen many articles and videos about spot reducing upper back fat. That may explain the searches such as a “good exercise for losing upper back fat for men or women.” It is worth noting that scientific evidence shows that you can not spot-reduce back fat (8).
So, forget about discovering the best back exercises to spot-reduce back fat and focus on full-body activities for losing upper back fat and overall body fat. That is because the only way is to decrease overall body fat.
With that said, it is essential to adjust your workout plan and include full-body exercises that target overall body fat loss. Some of the best activities to include in your regime to help with upper back fat loss include:
Reverse Fly With Dumbbells
The reverse fly exercise targets the muscles in the upper back. During this you target the rhomboid muscles in your upper back and shoulder region. They are also effective in building shoulder strength and mass (4).
You only need a pair of comfortable dumbbells to perform this exercise. With these, all you need to do is follow these steps (4):
- Stand upright with your feet at shoulder-width distance and dumbbells in your arms and by your sides.
- Push your hips back in a hinge motion and bring your chest forward and parallel to the floor.
- Hold the weights with the palms facing each other and hang them down. Maintain a neutral spine, tight core, and slight bend in your knees.
- Exhale and stretch both arms to the sides while maintaining a soft bend in your elbows. Squeeze your shoulder blades at the top of the movement when pulling toward the spine.
- Inhale and lower the weights to the starting stance. Do not hunch your shoulders but instead maintain a neutral spine and tucked chin.
Resistance Band Lat Pull-Downs
The resistance band lat pull-down exercise is a calisthenics and resistance band exercise that primarily targets the lats. However, it also works your middle back, biceps, and shoulders (2).
The only equipment you need is a resistance band. However, it is worth noting that there are different resistance band lat pull-down variations that you can perform to lose back fat. In this case, the type and intensity of the band required may vary. Here are the steps to complete the basic resistance band lat pull-down (2):
- Grab the middle of the resistance band with both hands, arms stretched out at a 45-degree angle from your shoulders, and palms facing down.
- Bend your elbows, separate your hands, and pull the resistance band towards your chest.
- Slowly return the band to the starting position in a slow and controlled movement.
Barbell Bent Over Rows
These rows are a staple in any workout whose aim is to tone the back area and gain back strength and size (1). However, to reap this benefit, you must perform the exercise correctly. Here is a step-by-step guide on how to perform a barbell bent-over (1):
- Start by holding onto a barbell with your palms facing down. Maintain a slight knee bend and then bend forward at your waist. Make sure the barbell is directly in front of you, your arms are positioned perpendicular to the floor, and the back is straight.
- Slowly lift the barbell toward you while keeping your upper body stationary. Keep your elbows close to your body, and only your forearms hold the barbell. Pause at the top of the movement and squeeze your back muscles to work them further.
- Slowly lower the barbell to the starting position and repeat.
If this exercise proves challenging, you can instead do the dumbbell bent-over rows. This exercise is as effective in burning upper back fat because you split the weight with the dumbbells. In addition, it makes your muscles work harder while trying to keep your body balanced. But unfortunately, you cannot shift as much weight as you would with a barbell. So, to perform this variation (1):
- Hold a dumbbell in each hand while maintaining a slight bend in your knees and hinge at your hips. It will position your upper body almost parallel to the floor.
- Tighten your abdominal muscles, maintain a straight back, and row the weights up to your chest.
- Lower the weights to the starting stance and repeat.
Pilates Overhead Press
The other exercise you can perform to lose upper back fat is the Pilates overhead press. Although it primarily targets your deltoids (shoulders), it also works your chest, arms, and upper back. In addition, it also targets your core mainly because you engage it in a big way when performing the exercise in a sitting position.
To perform this overhead press, you will need a pair of light dumbbells. With these:
- Get in a sitting position and bend your legs so that the soles of your feet touch in front of you.
- Hold the dumbbells in each hand with palms facing out. Position the weights at your shoulder height.
- Tighten your core, and then stretch your arms to push the weights towards the ceiling and over your head. You will feel a burn in your lats, which means the muscles are working fine. However, be sure to stop the exercise if you experience pain.
- Pause for a few seconds at the top of the movement, then lower the weights to the starting position.
As the name implies, the back extension exercise targets your back. It also targets your glutes, hamstrings, erector spinae, and quadratus lumborum (muscles at the sides of your lower back) (7). To perform this exercise (7):
- Start by positioning yourself on the back extension machine. Keep your feet firmly pressed on the foot platform and the lower leg pad slightly above your ankles. Additionally, place your legs at a hip-width distance, knees directly above your ankles, and the thigh pad below your pelvis.
- Maintain a neutral spine, pelvis, head, and neck and keep your chin tucked throughout the movement. Similarly, remember to engage your core throughout the exercise.
- Place your hands on the sides of your head or arms across your chest without interlocking your fingers. After that, bend from your hips to lower into the starting position.
- Clench your glutes to start pulling your upper body up by using your hamstrings and glutes. Pull your body up until your shoulders are over your hips.
- Pause at the end of the movement and squeeze your glutes.
- Slowly lower back to the starting stance while maintaining a neutral spine.
For added intensity and resistance, you can incorporate weights into the exercise. For example, you can hold a dumbbell or plate if your trainer agrees. In such a case (7):
- Start by positioning yourself on the machine. After that, hold the plate or dumbbells. Make sure you start with light weights until you get used to performing the exercise with weights. Again, the lightweights minimize injury risk.
- Place the weights against your chest. It is worth noting that the higher you hold the weights, the more resistance these loads add to your exercise. Additionally, remember to keep your elbows out to avoid hitting the pad.
- Position your hands on the sides of your head or arms across your chest without interlocking your fingers. Bend from your hips to lower into the starting stance.
- Tighten your core and squeeze your glutes to bring your upper body up until your shoulders are over your hips.
- Pause at the end of the movement and clench your glutes.
- Slowly lower back to the starting stance and repeat.
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Standing Rear Delt Raises
The standing rear delt raises are among the most effective exercises for strengthening your shoulder and upper back muscles. They target these two areas and help tone them, further eliminating upper back fat. You can perform this exercise using light dumbbells. Here is a step-by-step guide on how to do that:
- Start in an upright stance with your feet hip-width apart. Slightly bend at your knees and then hinge forward from the waist. Be sure to keep your core tight and back long. Hold the dumbbells under the chest and gaze at the floor, roughly 5 feet in front of you.
- Straighten and stretch your arms without locking the elbows and then lift the dumbbells to your sides. Remember to engage your core throughout the movement and pause at the top for a few seconds.
- Bring the shoulder blades together, and then release the loads back under the chest in a slow and controlled movement.
- Lie face down on a yoga mat and extend your arms in front of you. Relax your head and keep the tops of your feet on the ground.
- Tighten your abdominal muscles and glutes, and raise your legs and arms a few inches off the ground. Make sure you only lift to the point of comfort to avoid injuring yourself.
- Pause at the top of the movement for a few seconds, then slowly release and return to the starting position.
The push-up row exercise is one of the go-to moves for a sexy toned back and improved posture. To do it (2):
- Get a pair of comfortable dumbbells and get into a push-up plank position. Make sure you are engaging your core and grasping the handles of the dumbbells.
- Lower your body while keeping your elbows tight to the ribs.
- Pause at the bottom of the push-up for a few seconds, and then push yourself back into the plank position.
- While in the plank position, bend your left elbow and lift the dumbbell up toward the side of your body before pressing yourself back into the plank position.
- While still in the plank position try to look to the right side while you lift the dumbbell. Make sure you keep your elbow straight.
- Repeat the same movement with your right arm to complete one repetition.
Prone Lat Pull-Down
The prone lat pull-down is another exercise to tone your upper back. The lat pull-down exercise also strengthens your lats, posterior shoulders, and upper back muscles. It is an excellent beginner exercise because it does not require any equipment. To do it:
- Lie on the floor face down.
- Raise your arms overhead with your thumbs pointing toward the ceiling.
- Retract your shoulder blades, clench your glutes, and bring your elbows by your sides. Avoid arching your lower back during the movement. Additionally, try to gaze in front and breathe deeply.
- Hold the contraction for a few seconds, then slowly return to the starting position.
The Bottom Line
Losing upper back fat is one of the common fitness goals. However, it is worth noting that you cannot spot-reduce back fat. It would help if you focus on overall body fat reduction through diet and exercise.
Some of the best exercises to burn upper back fat include back extensions, pilates overhead presses, standing rear delt raises, superman exercises, reverse fly, and resistance band lat pull-down exercises. It would be best to talk to your doctor and trainer before adding these exercises to your regime.
This article is intended for general informational purposes only and does not address individual circumstances. It is not a substitute for professional advice or help and should not be relied on to make decisions of any kind. Any action you take upon the information presented in this article is strictly at your own risk and responsibility!
- 7 Most Effective Exercises (2020, webmd.com)
- Best Exercises for Back Muscles (2021, webmd.com)
- Dietary fiber: Essential for a healthy diet (2021, mayoclinic.org)
- Healthy Lifestyle: Fitness (2021, mayoclinic.org)
- Salt reduction (2020, who.int)
- Strength Training: Building Shoulder and Back Muscles (2009, webmd.com)
- What Lower Back Exercises Can I Do at Home? (2021, medicinenet.com)
- What to do to help reduce the appearance of back fat (2021, medicalnewstoday.com)