Group of people doing push-ups

Back-fat is a common trouble-spot, and similarly to belly fat you might be having a hard time getting rid of it. This could be back fat that’s centered around the waistline, or for others might be higher up the back, which for women can be particularly bothersome and is commonly known as “bra bulge.” Regardless of where your back fat accumulates, you probably want to learn some easy ways to get rid of it!

Here are eleven ways to get rid of back fat and keep it off for good, and some of them might surprise you:

1. Strength Train

Let’s start with the exercise strategies to get rid of back fat, and I can’t stress the importance of strength training enough. AKA resistance training, incorporating bodyweight strength exercises or adding weight with dumbbells or even household items is key for changing your body composition, meaning more lean muscle mass and less body fat. Vary your weekly exercise between cardio and strength training, and remember you don’t have to log long weight lifting sessions at the gym to reap the benefits. 2-3, 30-minute bodyweight workouts at home per week will do the trick. If you want to add weight but getting to the gym is a challenge, consider making the worthwhile investment in a set of adjustable dumbbells.

2. Try a HIIT Workout

While we’re on the subject of exercise efficiency, consider trading a longer cardio session for a high intensity interval training (HIIT) session, instead. Proven to burn fat more effectively than long distance cardio (more on this in a moment), HIIT can be adjusted to every fitness level and simple means switching between periods of higher intensity and lower intensity. Even better, studies show that HIIT particularly helps to burn visceral fat around the mid-section (love handles included) that is linked to many chronic diseases. 

3. Avoid Chronic Cardio

Getting your heart rate up with cardio is important, but don’t fall into the trap of doing too much cardio. Focusing your entire fitness routine on long-distance cardio (running, elliptical, biking, etc) without switching it up can actually increase stress hormones like cortisol, which can in turn lead to weight gain and more body fat. If you love your long distance cardio then feel free to keep at it, but alternate days of strength training and HIIT, too. And don’t forget the importance of rest days not only for muscle growth and recovery, but also for fat loss and weight maintenance. It all comes back to hormones!

4. Quit Sugar

If you only heed the advice of one tip on this list, let it be to get off the sugar. Refined sugar is solidly shown to lead to increased body fat (again, especially that dangerous visceral fat), so ditching the candy, cookies, cakes, sodas, sugary drinks and all other sugar-containing foods will make a world of difference. You can do rows and other back-toning exercises until the cows come home, but if you eat a high-sugar diet all of those muscles will be covered by a layer of fat. 

Reducing sugar and processed/packaged foods is definitely easier said than done, so consider investing in a time-saving kitchen appliance to make healthy meal prep ten times easier during a busy week. I love slow cookers and especially the Instant Pot Ultra.

5. Focus on the Core

Core musculature isn’t just your abs, this key stabilizing muscle group also wraps around your back. For this reason a standard sit-up isn’t really the best approach to strengthening your core and losing back fat, but instead focusing on total body core movements, like planks. If you’re new to planks, start with just 10-20 seconds on your hands or forearms, making sure your low back doesn’t sag down and that your glutes stay in-line with the rest of your body, forming the shape of a plank. Keep your whole body tight (but don’t forget to breathe!) and release. As this movement becomes easier, there are endless plank variations to continue challenging your core. 

6. Definitely Do Push-Ups

Most people think of push-ups as just a chest exercise, but it’s actually one of the best full body strengthening movements out there, and can be key in targeting stubborn back fat. Push-ups help to strengthen your spine-supporting muscles, which not only prevents injury and decreases back pain, but also torches back fat. If you can’t yet do a full push-up, start on your knees until you build strength. 

7. Manage Stress

Back to those pesky stress hormones, but stress management really can’t be overemphasized in turning your body into a fat burning machine. High stress levels and weight loss completely butt heads on a physiological level, and it’s an uphill battle that you won’t win. If you know you’re under a lot of chronic stress, think of ways to incorporate some self-care into your daily routine. Meditation, deep breathing, gentle yoga, walks, talking with friends, epsom salt baths or any other practice that brings you a little bit of peace.

8. Rows and Reverse Flys

There are certainly a few key back-sculpting exercises to hone in on, such as rows and reverse flys. Rows can be done seated on a machine, with a resistance back or bent over with dumbbells and is an excellent way to target the middle back, lats and shoulders. Stick with lighter weight for reverse flys, which work the muscles of your upper and mid-back. An extra added benefit of both movements is that they significantly help to improve posture, which can naturally decrease how noticeable back fat appears, and prevent injury in the long run. 

9. Get Your Beauty Rest

When it comes to getting rid of back fat (or any fat, for that matter), adequate sleep is a non-negotiable. Studies show that sleep loss limits fat loss, and a lot has to do with the hunger hormone ghrelin. Ever notice that you feel much hungrier and with more sugar cravings the day after a poor night’s sleep? Well, it’s not just in your head, it’s your hormones working against you. Power technology down an hour before bed and consider using a high quality pair of blue light blocking glasses if you do need to use screens, take a soothing bath with lavender essential oils, or do whatever other sleep hygiene techniques prepare you for a restful night. 

10. Switch Things Up

With any new type of exercise, your body is challenged and feels the burn, not to mention adapts and changes. When you do the exact same workout on repeat, your body gets used to it (adapts) and you stop seeing results after awhile. It’s key to continue challenging your body, whether it’s different exercise selection, more weight or higher reps. This is one reason that tracking your workouts can be very helpful to make sure you’re switching things up and seeing progress.

11. Consider Some Lab Work 

If you feel you’ve made significant dietary changes and have a solid workout plan in place yet still struggle with back and abdominal fat, you might consider an underlying issue, like insulin resistance. When that sort of fat simply won’t budge, you could be dealing with a hidden source of inflammation or imbalance. Talk to your doctor about getting some blood work, especially fasting blood glucose, fasting insulin and A1C, among others. Also look for signs of metabolic syndrome like a high waist to hip ratio, intense sugar cravings, frequent fatigue and more.

Not only will these eleven strategies help to get rid of back fat, but they’ll also make you an overall healthier person. How’s that for a good deal?

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