Belly fat isn't the only trouble area a lot of women struggle with... Back fat is another culprit that some just can't get rid of. There's nothing wrong with having fat, we probably all have some annoying lump of fat we are insecure about and hate. But some fatty deposits in the body are associated with certain ailments like insulin resistance, low carbohydrate tolerance, and can even increase your risk of diabetes. The most problematic area is belly fat because it's more than likely to be visceral fat, but fat found on the back (subcutaneous fat) can still indicate health issues related to being overweight. So that annoying "bra bulge" or "muffin top" you have might be an issue that you want to fix, not for physical reasons, but for health reasons.
The answer to how to get rid of back fat might not be what you think or what you want it to be... We're not here to give you some magic pill or give you tips on how to spot-reduce flab (it's nearly impossible to do that). We're here to give you the facts: You need to decrease your overall body fat to get rid of back fat. The great thing about that is that you'll look tone and slimmer everywhere, including your back!
Learn how tweaking your diet, daily routine, and including these upper body strength training exercises can help sculpt your back effectively.
What causes back fat?
To determine what lifestyle and diet changes you need to make, you need to understand the causes of fat buildup on the back.
So there are three places where back fat can accumulate slowly over time. Upper back (excess fat that creates a 'bra bulge'), mid-back (folds near the waist), and lower back ('love handles'). Maybe you have one or all of them, either way, you won't be able to spot reduce, but losing fat overall will help reduce all those areas, not just one.
This fat can accumulate due to a few causes, they include...
- Eating too much sugar or salty foods, key contributors to inflammation.
- Sedentary lifestyle, minimal physical activity in daily life.
- Overeating, consuming way too many calories.
- Aging, this is natural and it just happens.
Be honest with yourself, and try to determine which of these can be causing back fat. Knowing the cause will help determine what the next step is. Is it a dietary change you need to make? Or do you need to start getting more physical?
How to lose back fat the safe way
Most people wanting to burn fat in specific areas believe that it can be done by doing the same 5-10 exercises every day... Although exercise is important and can help change your body composition, the biggest and most important thing is eating healthier. Yes, we will still give a list of strength training exercises you should do consistently, but don't heavily rely on those. Include them in your workout routine, and make the necessary diet and life changes to promote weight loss that will in turn promote fat loss, and most importantly, these changes will promote a better well-being for a healthier you!
The best way to reduce body weight and burn fat is by changing your diet. You can do this by tracking macros and calories, or by simply cutting down on your favorite unhealthy foods. If you want to maximize results consider tracking macros, this is a great way to ensure you're getting the right nutrients and eating a balanced diet full of whole foods. If you don't want to track, you can still get the same results! Just aim to cut down on sugar, sodium, and processed foods. Focus on increasing your water intake, filling up on healthier carbs that contain fiber, and eating anti-inflammatory foods.
Here's a list of nutrient-dense foods that you should start including in your diet:
- Fatty fish like salmon
- Leafy greens
- Lean protein
- Sweet potatoes
These foods are packed with nutrients you need - healthy fats, fiber, protein, omega-3 fatty acids, etc. Just remember, eating one or all of these won't reduce fat fast. There are other contributing factors like sleep, exercise, and stress levels.
Lifestyle, combined with a healthy diet and physical activity, will make your weight loss efforts much more efficient. Little changes like making an effort to walk more and practicing posture (helps strengthen your back) can go a long way.
Here are other lifestyle changes you can make to accelerate fat loss:
Get enough quality sleep: The quality and amount of hours you sleep can affect your weight loss efforts. This is all due to your hormone, leptin. This hormone is what inhibits hunger, and not getting enough quality sleep can lower leptin levels. When leptin levels drop, it sends a message to the brain that there is a shortage of food thus increasing appetite. This increased appetite will have you reaching for those comfort foods you love so much. So aim to get good sleep consistently to avoid irregular hormone changes. 
Practice self-care to reduce stress: Another hormone you want to keep an eye on is cortisol, also known as the stress hormone. Chronic stress can cause cortisol levels to spike which can mess with other hormones that control appetite and weight gain. It can also cause fatigue and blood sugar imbalances which can increase food cravings and lead to overeating. On top of that, constant secretion of cortisol can lead to a slow down of your metabolism, which leads to insulin resistance, which causes your body to store fat.  To minimize the risk of this practice self-care. Take some time to yourself, or with loved ones, and do something you enjoy. Specifically, do something that will keep you relaxed and your stress levels low.
Plan your meals: This one doesn't necessarily have to do with hormones, but it sure can help reduce your stress and help you make better food choices! Not everyone has the time to make home-cooked meals every day for every meal, this is why planning and prepping your meals is a good way to stay on track. Planning your meals for the week and prepping a few on your busier days will help save you a lot of time and stress. Plus having your meals planned and prepared will help you avoid any temptations from your favorite take-out place.
Exercises to tone the back
Add exercise in the mix with a healthy diet, good sleep, and other lifestyle changes and you're on the right path to toning not only your back but your entire body!
When it comes to toning your back, focus on a combination of strength training and cardio. If you want to maximize and promote fat burning, try HIIT (high-intensity interval training) a few times a week. This type of cardio is shorter than steady-state cardio (walking, elliptical, cycling), but it burns more calories in a shorter amount of time.
For those barely getting started strength training, these exercises are beginner-friendly and can be done with weights or long resistance bands. The last one is a bit more advanced, but it's a good one that you should aim to work up to! For those who want more of a challenge, use a heavier weight, or try different, more difficult variations.
Let's get started! Here are five of the best back exercises to include in your workout routine:
1. Bent-over rows
This exercise works your upper and middle back muscles. Choose the free weights to use based on your fitness levels. You can use dumbbells, a barbell, or a long resistance band. For this example, we'll be giving directions for bent-over dumbbell rows.
- Grab 2 dumbbells and stand with your feet shoulder-width apart.
- Bend slightly at the hips, keeping your back straight, and pull the dumbbells up into your chest.
- Hold for a second and bring dumbbells back to the starting position.
2. Lat pulldowns (or resistance band pull downs)
Lat pulldowns are an excellent exercise that targets the middle back area where the lat muscles are located. You can either do these on a lat pulldown machine at the gym or a long resistance band.
For those using a resistance band, attach the band on a door hook, squat rack, or wherever you can just make sure it's high.
- Grab the resistance band with your palms facing out and down.
- Get down on one or both knees with your hands up over your head and the band taught.
- Lean forward a bit, bend your elbows and separate your hands as you pull the band down until your arms naturally stop.
- Then let them back up to the starting position.
Using the lat machine:
- Start by sitting on the machine, placing your knees under the provided pads.
- Grab the lat bar with a shoulder-width grip.
- Stick your chest out, breathe out, and pull the bar down to your upper chest. Focus on using the lats to pull the bar, not your biceps.
- Hold for a few seconds then slowly reverse the movement back to the starting position.
3. Bent-over dumbbell flyes
This exercise is also known as the reverse fly and it targets the posterior deltoids (shoulder muscles), and major upper back muscles. There is a machine for this at most gyms, but you can easily do it with a pair of dumbbells or a long resistance band.
- Hold dumbbells at your sides and stand with your feet shoulder-width apart.
- Hinge from the hips until your body is almost parallel to the floor.
- Allow the arms to hang straight down from the shoulders with a neutral grip.
- Take a deep breath and pull the dumbbells towards the ceiling using the rear deltoids
- Slowly lower the dumbbells back to the starting position under control.
4. Back extension
This exercise is also known as the superman because it looks like you are flying through the sky... Except you're laying on the ground. 😅Not only does it target your lower back muscles, but it also hits your lower body (glutes, hips), and shoulders.
- Lie face down on an exercise mat with arms fully extended in front of you.
- Simultaneously raise your arms, legs, and chest off of the floor, making sure you squeeze the lower back.
- Hold this contraction for two seconds.
- Slowly begin to lower your arms, legs, and chest back down while inhaling.
5. Plank with dumbbell row
This is an advanced compound exercise that works your core muscles and your entire back. It's extra challenging since your body is working to remain stable, so work your way up to this one.
- Place your hands on a pair of dumbbells and get into a push-up position.
- Make sure that your arms are completely straight with your hands directly beneath your shoulders and your palms facing each other. Your body should form a straight line.
- Keeping your core tight and elbows close to your body, row one dumbbell off of the floor, pulling your elbow as high as you can while you squeeze your shoulder blade back.
- Return the dumbbell to the floor.
- Repeat with the other arm.
These are just five of many back exercises you can try! We highly suggest including push-ups and pull-ups into your routine, but if these are too advanced, work your way up to it and look for beginner-friendly variations like knee push-ups or assisted resistance band pull-ups. And if you need a set of long resistance bands, check out our collection of long bands 😉
In summary, back fat is not something to be embarrassed or insecure about. Having fat is natural, but if you want to improve your health, weight loss goals aside, then make the necessary changes you need. These exercises are great at sculpting and toning the back, but remember, it's all about balance - Eat a healthy, nutritious diet, get plenty of sleep, manage your stress levels, and exercise regularly.