The back isn't immune from excess fat. In fact, the upper body is a common spot for fat to settle, much to the chagrin of the individual hosting the fat. Try some exercises to help tone your back for a shapelier appearance.
Target Upper Back Fat
It's impossible to spot-reduce anywhere on the body, but you can concentrate on certain areas in order to build muscle and make the area more shapely. If your back is weak, certain exercises will help strengthen those muscles, defining your back and tightening up any jiggles. Aim to do the following exercises 10-12 times, three times through, three times a week. Couple this with a reduced calorie intake and more nutrient-dense foods and you'll start to notice a difference within a few weeks.
A bent-over row can be done with dumbbells or any other type of weight you can grasp in your hands.
- Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart.
- Keep the back straight.
- Your knees should be bent slightly.
- Pull your stomach in and hinge at your hips to bend over without arching your back.
- Hold a dumbbell in each hand but keep fingers relaxed and begin with arms fully extended toward the floor.
- Squeeze shoulder blades together, drawing the elbows back and lifting the weights upward.
- In a controlled movement, lower to the starting position.
Rear Delt Fly
Strong posterior deltoids help make your upper back more shapely. Do this exercise with dumbbells or other hand weights. Though the following directions specify a seated position, this exercise can be done standing or kneeling as well.
- Sit on the edge of a chair or bench, holding light weights in each hand behind each leg.
- Lean forward from the hips, keeping your back flat.
- Tuck your chin toward the chest.
- Raise your arms to the sides.
- Slowly bend elbows as you lift.
- Squeeze the shoulder blades together.
- Hold at the top for a count or two.
- Gradually lower your arms to starting position.
Low Plank to High Plank
Also called "rolling planks," this challenging bodyweight exercise strengthens the back (and the core) without the need for additional weight.
- Start in an elbow plank.
- While staying up on your toes, transition to a high plank on your hands.
- Return to an elbow plank and repeat.
Similarly to planks, push-ups help strengthen the back and the entire core. Though technically a chest exercise, push-ups do indeed help strengthen the back and help make it more shapely. If you're new to push-ups and can't yet do them on your toes, try a modified variation to build up the muscles so you can eventually do a full push-up correctly.
- Try push-ups on your knees instead of your toes.
- Do push-ups standing, pushing against a wall instead of the floor. The further back from the wall you stand, the more challenging it will be.
Target Lower Back Fat
Strengthening the lower back is particularly important for exercisers who put a lot of time and effort into ab work - adding lower back exercises helps balance out these opposing muscles.
This bodyweight exercise helps stabilizer muscles in the lower back as well as other core muscles. It's important to stop this exercise if you feel pain or significant discomfort. Breathe throughout this exercise.
- Lie flat on your stomach with arms extended over your head.
- Keep legs straight.
- Your forehead should rest on the floor or you can turn your head to one side.
- Slowly raise your arms and the shoulders off the floor while drawing your feet up as well.
- Keep the pelvis and chest flat on the floor.
- Lower and repeat with the opposite arm and leg.
Bridges for Lower Back Strength
Bridges done with a weight placed on the hips help strengthen the lower back and will also target the hips and glutes. For best results, hold the bridge position isometrically for around 10 counts before releasing. If that doesn't prove challenging enough, try the bridge with one leg extended above the ground in front of you.
The Importance of Cardio
The muscles in your back are designed to help you lift, pull, sit and stand up straight. Toned back muscles give your back a sculpted look. When you keep these muscles in shape, you're less likely to be plagued with back problems. A strong aerobic workout helps you burn away all excess body fat including back fat. Aerobic exercises can help trim body fat, but erasing fat deposits along your back requires toning and strengthening your back muscles.
Cardio and Strength Together
To maximize your workout benefits and increase your overall fitness and health, do both cardio exercises and strength building exercises. Consider adding posture exercises to give your back a better appearance.
Shaping Your Body, Your Way
The best part of burning away back fat is improving how you feel about yourself when you try on clothes, look in the mirror or push to achieve the next level in your exercise regimen. Adjust your dietary intake to help your body shed fat while building strength and stamina for the best results.