Exercise Tips for Getting Rid of Back Fat
Every day, thousands of people search for “how to lose back fat” online. What most people want is the quick fix, the magic pill solution for instant gratification. I’m going to lay it out up front for you: forget the notion that there is an instant solution for getting rid of back fat.
Many of the most popular exercises for losing back fat are actually not helping very much at all. The truth is that most people who make attempts at getting rid of back fat will not achieve their goals because they fail to recognize the fundamental science of fat loss.
If you are trying to lose back fat, it will help to first learn more about what you are up against before you try to accomplish your fitness goals.
Back Body Fat Distribution
Most of the stored fat in your body is subcutaneous fat (beneath the skin). While body fat is distributed throughout your entire body, some people have “problem areas” which store a greater proportion of body fat than others. When back fat is a problem area, it is usually stored in the lower back, but it can also be in the upper back.
Upper Back Fat
Upper back fat, or what some refer to as back boobs, is the area which covers the muscles of your thoracic spine and scapula. Contrary to popular belief, this area of the back stores fat just like the lower back area. The difference is that the human body always stores more fat in the lower back area and will begin to store it there before the upper back region.
Those with excess upper back fat are likely already significantly overweight. This is simply because in both men and women, the body tends to store fat in other areas before it does in the upper back area. People looking to lose fat in this area usually have noticeable excess fat stores all over but for some reason want to target this upper back area.
Another common reason people try to get rid of back fat in this area is because popular skinfold body composition estimation methods use a measurement from a pinch of skin in this sub-scapular region as part of the assessments. When someone hears they have 30mm of fat on their upper back in relation to other parts of their body, they may think that it is abnormal, when in fact, it is just part of human body fat distribution.
Lower Back Fat
The lower back fat that many people are trying to lose may be better categorized as abdominal fat. The fat surrounding the obliques is what makes the back appear to be fat.
The region considered to contain lower back fat is often referred to as “love handles” or “muffin top” and is a trademark of the android fat distribution pattern.
The android pattern of fat distribution, which is more common in men than women, is commonly referred to as the “apple” body type.
The apple refers to those who tend to accumulate body fat in the mid-section of their body in the abdominal and low back area. The other body type, “pears”, tend to store the bulk of their body fat in their hips, buns and thighs. “Apples” who become overweight and overfat are those who are most commonly try getting rid of back fat.
Most Important Concept to Understand for Getting Rid of Back Fat
The graphic shows a balance which has calories consumed (left) and calories expended (right).
Simply put, when you consume as many calories as you expend, you will not lose back fat weight.
When you consume more calories than you expend, the left side of the balance will go down, and you will gain body fat and weight. If your goal is getting rid of back fat, you must expend more calories than you consume and you will lose back fat and weight.
It is important to consider that this caloric deficit must occur consistently over a period of time to make a noticeable difference. Consider the fact that each pound of body fat equals around 3500 calories and you can easily figure out that you must successfully maintain a 500 calorie caloric deficit each day for a month in order to lose 4 pounds of body fat.
What Are Common Exercise Mistakes People Make While Getting Rid of Back Fat?
Unless you have very little body fat to begin with, performing isolated exercises for the muscles covered up by back fat will not have the desired effects. In addition to not burning the body fat, with the wrong diet, back exercises also build the underlying muscles which can push the fat outward, causing the back to look even fatter.
Even so, a large percentage of people who try getting rid of back fat do so by the wrong means. Spot reduction, a long-standing fitness myth, is commonly believed. People often perform exercises which target the lower back and abdominal muscles to try to lose the surrounding “muffin top” body fat.
Most Common Exercises Used for Getting Rid of Back Fat
Low Back Extension
Low back extension machines come in a number of shapes and sizes. Most of them have a padded back rest, which the person leans against as they extend the torso backwards to lift the weight stack.
The reason why low back extension is used in an attempt to get rid of back fat is that it targets the muscles in the lower back area. Many people erroneously believe it will burn the fat. The anatomy chart on the machine with all the red highlights in the problematic low back area is misinterpreted as burning fat, rather than working the muscle.
Stiff-Legged Deadlifts/Good Mornings
These free weights exercises target the lower back which, again, because of the common belief of the spot reduction myth, is associated with fat loss in that same region.
Are these exercises bad? No, of course not, but for those with the goal of getting rid of back fat, these exercises alone will not magically burn the fat off the problem areas.
Like the low back extension, the torso rotation or torso twist machine almost always has a highlight which shows the areas it works. What makes the torso machine ultra-popular for people who are trying to lose back fat is that the highlights show it working the abdominals and obliques as well.
Since most people who are trying to lose back fat also have fat in their abdominal and side regions, they look at using the torso twist as “killing two birds with one stone,” maximizing their time but it is really wasting time when the alternatives below would be maximizing their time.
How to Actually Get Rid of Back Fat Through Exercise
The Best Exercises for Getting Rid of Back Fat
You can do all the exercises listed above and as many other low back exercises you want, but if you do not achieve the aforementioned caloric deficit, your overall body fat level will not drop, and you will not reduce your visible back fat. That being said, if and only if you have your diet under control, here are the best exercises to use as the base of a back fat reduction fitness program.
Just like anyone interested in general weight and fat loss, cardiovascular exercise should be the base of your exercise routine if getting rid of back fat is your primary goal. Cardiovascular exercise, specifically high intensity interval cardio exercise, burns a large amount of calories. This is important because it will significantly contribute to attaining a negative caloric balance.
Regardless of whether you have little or a lot of back fat you would like to lose, cardiovascular exercise is an absolute necessity. Even if you happen to have only a small amount of stubborn back fat, challenging yourself with high intensity exercise is extremely important.
Full-Body Weight Training
Full-body weight training is a great way to boost your metabolism by maintaining the muscle you have during a fat loss program. It is important to concentrate on full body weight training for a number of reasons. First, concentrating on muscles in the “problem area” is not going to burn fat which is covering them, but will instead build the muscles below the body fat and possibly make the area appear even fatter.
A full body weight training program trains the major muscle groups of the body equally so it will efficiently burn the most amount of calories possible. A balanced, full body weight training program will train all muscle groups effectively, but not overtrain them. Overtraining a muscle group when on a low calorie fat loss diet can lead to excessive muscle breakdown, or as mentioned above, could build the isolated muscles under the body fat instead of burning the fat.
For more information and videos of some of the most effective full body weight training exercises to help you lose back fat visit: