In workouts, it’s natural for us to focus on the body parts that we can see. That explains our emphasis on planks and crunches in our daily gym schedules. Yes, washboard abs and firm biceps are what dreams are made of but you also need to work on your back to get rid of a bra bulge or a love handle. Sadly, spot reduction is a myth,1 and you need an overall body workout to shed weight. But for a toned look, you should also work on individual muscles. Here are the best exercises to get rid of back fat.
How To Reduce Back Fat
The muscles in the back protect the spine and help it do its job and also reach, pull, and extend the arms and the torso. From a cosmetic point of view, there are two major muscles that give definition to your body.2
- Latissimus dorsi/Lats: The lats are two large muscle on either side of the spine. When toned, they give the coveted inverted triangle shape to men’s backs. As they are made of type II fiber, training at higher speeds and lifting heavier loads help tone them best.3
- Trapezius muscles/traps: These flat triangular muscles extend over the back of the neck and the upper thorax, forming a diamond shape. Their actions include extending the head and elevating, depressing, and stabilizing the scapula or the shoulder blade.4
8 Exercises To Get Rid Of Back Fat
Tone The Lats
Pull down exercises are good for the lats – both horizontal pull down like rowing and vertical ones like pull ups and pull downs. Inverted row is the most effective exercise for medial lats, while exercises involving lateral bending and body-lifting exercises are good for lateral lats.5
1. Inverted Row
Lie down on your back under a fixed horizontal bar placed one arm distance away from you. Grasp the bar with a wide overhand grip. Keeping the body straight, pull it up to the bar. Return until arms are extended and shoulders are stretched forward. Repeat.
2. Cable Row
Sit at a seated cable row station with your back straight, feet planted firmly against the pads, and your knees only slightly bent. Pull cable attachment toward your waist while keeping the lower back straight. Pull shoulders back and push chest forward during contraction. Return until arms are extended, your shoulders are stretched forward, and lower back is flexed forward. Repeat.
Step up and grasp the bar with a wide overhand grip. Pull the body up until the neck reaches the hands. Lower the body until arms and shoulders are fully extended. Repeat.
Stand in front of a lat pulldown bar, place your palms flat on the bar and pull it down to shoulder level. Keeping your elbows slightly bent and your wrists locked, pull the bar down toward your body in an arcing motion. The bar should touch or come close to your thighs. Slowly allow the bar to come back up to the starting position. Keep your back straight. Repeat.
Tone The Traps
5. Seated Lateral
Sit at the edge of a chair, holding a dumbbell in each hand. Bending the elbows a little, raise your arms to the shoulder level such that they are parallel to the ground. Do the movement feeling the stretch on your back. Pause. Return to the start position. Repeat.
6. Double Arm Upright Row
Stand with your feet one foot apart, holding a dumbbell in each hand. Extend your arms downward, positioning each dumbbell in the center of your thighs. Extend your elbows outward. Keeping the dumbbells close to your body, raise the dumbbells chin level, all the while flexing the traps as you do it. Return to the start position in full control. Repeat.
7. Push-Up Plus
Get down on all fours and place your hands on the floor so that they’re slightly wider than but in line with your shoulders. Lift the knees and stretch the legs, resting on your toes. Your body should form a straight line from your ankles to your head. Keep your abdominals tucked in through the duration of the exercise. Lower your body until your chest nearly touches the floor. Pause, then push yourself back to the starting position as quickly as possible. Once your arms are straight again, round your upper back and push it toward the ceiling. Pause for one count, then do another push-up. Repeat.
8. Cobra Pose
Lie face down, with the top of the feet flat on the ground and toes extended. Place the palms on either side of your chest. As you inhale, lift your upper body up, keeping your stomach and hips on the floor. As you come up, make sure your elbows are bent and facing the wall behind you and shoulders moving away from your ears. Once you are in position, keep the elbows straight. As you exhale, lower down. Repeat.
These are some of the exercises that work on your upper body. Include them in your daily workout to get rid of back fat.
|↑1||Gwinup, Grant, Reg Chelvam, and Terry Steinberg. “Thickness of subcutaneous fat and activity of underlying muscles.” Annals of Internal Medicine 74, no. 3 (1971): 408-411.|
|↑2||Superficial muscles of the back, intermediate muscles of the back, deep muscles of the back. UAMS.|
|↑3||Johnson, M_A, J. Polgar, D. Weightman, and D. Appleton. “Data on the distribution of fibre types in thirty-six human muscles: an autopsy study.” Journal of the neurological sciences 18, no. 1 (1973): 111-129.|
|↑4||Muscle Anatomy. MJC.|
|↑5||Park, Se-yeon, Won-gyu Yoo, Duk-hyun An, Jae-seop Oh, Jung-hoon Lee, and Bo-ram Choi. “Comparison of isometric exercises for activating latissimus dorsi against the upper body weight.” Journal of Electromyography and Kinesiology 25, no. 1 (2015): 47-52.|
|↑6||Vedral, Joyce L. Toning for teens: The 20 minute workout that makes you look good and feel great. Hachette UK, 2008.|
|↑7||Ludewig, Paula M., Molly S. Hoff, Erin E. Osowski, Shane A. Meschke, and Peter J. Rundquist. “Relative balance of serratus anterior and upper trapezius muscle activity during push-up exercises.” The American journal of sports medicine 32, no. 2 (2004): 484-493.|