I am no stranger to fat. When I started college, I gained the infamous freshman fifteen . . . and then the sophomore seven or eight. On my smaller frame, this was definitely noticeable. I tried every diet or weight loss miracle I came across, including one that had me eating peanut butter for every meal and one that had me eating basically nothing. Of course, neither of these worked. I’d give up almost every day and then gorge myself silly, treating myself one last time because my new diet would “start tomorrow.” This went on for several years. You may have a similar story, but the main reason you’re here is that you want to get rid of back fat.
When I tell you that you’ll need to lose overall body fat to get rid of back fat, believe me — I know that’s not always easy. However, it is possible. The good news is that it tends to be subcutaneous fat, the kind that sits right below your skin. When you burn fat, you should see a visible reduction in this type of fat. The most important thing to remember as you work on reducing body fat is to be gentle with yourself. My struggle with weight began to turn around when I stopped putting so much pressure on myself (and stopped eating so much darn peanut butter). Be patient, and you’ll be able to make lifestyle changes that stick. Then you can focus on the specific ways to get rid of that stubborn back fat.
Lose Weight: Calories Count
The average female needs 1600 – 1800 calories a day, and the average male needs 2000 – 2200 (you can perhaps get by with your if you exercise regularly), but unfortunately too many of us take in way more than this. Here are some easy ways to cut your calorie intake:
- At a restaurant, split an entree or order an appetizer; it will usually be more than enough food.
- Whenever you can, swap sodas or sugary, high-fat coffee drinks for water. Many more calories are consumed in drinks than people realize. The difference between an energy drink and a glass of ice water could be 250 calories!
- Try using smaller plates for meals; research shows that this can affect how much one ends up eating.
- It may seem strange, but blotting excess oil from your pizza with a napkin can save you over a hundred calories.
- Starting with a salad can help you eat less during your meal, but choose your salad dressing carefully. One serving equals 1 tablespoon, but that’s barely a taste. Try using a mixture of oil and vinegar instead, which is a lower-carbohydrate, much healthier option.
- Keep a food journal, this will help you track calories. It can be simple, like this one from the National Institute of Health, or one of the many apps that track what you eat. Food journals often allow you to see, in an eye-opening way, all the snacking you have done without realizing it.
Best Ways to Get Rid of Back Fat
Hide your back fat... for now
Even if it’s in style, that super-tight spandex shirt might not be your best option. Instead, choose looser-fitting knits that won’t cling to every inch of your flesh. And women: make sure that your bra is not too tight, either; otherwise, you’ll get even bigger bulges around the straps. You could also try wearing a camisole, undershirt, or even a sports bra (over your regular bra) as a buffer — something between your back and your clothes. Last but not least, good posture will make you look slimmer and smooth out your back.
By making your back fat less noticeable, you can be less self-conscious and focus on what is important: Improving your health and fitness! Get your mind off how you look, and focus your energy on what you eat and getting your body moving.
Set achievable goals
The worst thing you can do is try to do too much too soon. Remember to be gentle with yourself, and work to set goals that are specific and measurable. A safe amount of weight to lose per week is 1 – 2 pounds; it is important to not rush in because you could injure yourself, get sick, burn out, and gain it all back anyway. Worse, if you lose too much right away it’s entirely likely that you won’t have taken enough time to set up habits that will continue, and the back fat will return. Consider keeping an exercise or food journal to keep track of your accomplishments and hold yourself accountable. Having a support system is another key to success. Is your son becoming glued to the couch? Does he have a little back fat, too? Drag him out for a run with you! Working with your family or friends toward athletic health will help you stay focused.
As you think about losing weight and back fat, also be cognizant that you want to keep your muscle. Ideally, you can lose fat without losing any muscle. You already lose muscle as you age, sometimes at an alarming rate. This can cause many health issues, including a higher likelihood of major injuries in older age. Focus on strength training to preserve your muscle mass — don’t let losing muscle be part of your weight loss. You want to lose fat.
Pay attention to your diet
There are many changes you can make without starving yourself (definitely not a good idea) or even depriving yourself of some of your favorite things. Everything in moderation. Start incorporating smaller changes, like swapping white bread for whole grain; whole grains are lower in calories and much better for you. Eat fruits and vegetables whenever you can. If you’re kind of fruit/vegetable phobic (I admit: I kind of am), you could try putting your apples and bananas in a pretty bowl . . . it makes them taste better. Work on eating less sodium and more healthy fats, avoid nighttime snacking, and — most importantly — eat regularly. Skipping breakfast could set you up for a binge-fest later on.
Focus on maintaining proteins and cutting out simple starches, as those two steps can have a disproportionate impact on fat loss. If you need, find a book that can guide you. There are many out there, including one that we have used called Fit Foods (here on Amazon), focusing on habits versus some kind of crazy crash diet. Just make sure it isn’t an extreme diet that you cannot sustain in the long-term.
Get regular physical activity
Yes, you’re going to have to exercise to get rid of back fat. The good news is that you can do this in whatever way you enjoy — maybe you enjoy walking/running, or biking, or perhaps you want to swim.
Maybe you are more of a gym person. If you have a gym nearby, try getting a membership. Swimming and kickboxing are excellent ways to burn calories and tone your back, as are rowing machines and “upper-body ergometers.” Whatever you choose, the important part is that the exercise is regular. For major fat burning, try for 30 – 60 minutes a day of something that gets your heart pumping and makes you sweat. Avoid exercising right before bed, or you’ll have a hard time sleeping — and getting enough sleep is extremely important when trying to lose weight.
Get a good, balanced workout. Don’t overdo it on the back — for complete fitness, you need to work your entire body.
Do specific exercises
You may find that even after you’ve lost weight (or if you’re naturally slender to begin with), your back fat is having so much fun that it doesn’t want to leave. Unfortunately, the back is one of those stubborn places, and you’ll need a plan of attack. Target your back fat with yoga or Pilates; these body-toning workouts will help you get rid of back fat, plus they’ll help relieve any stress you may have. There are also specific back exercises and workouts you can try that, with repetition, should chase away your back fat and keep it good and scared. Just be sure to consult your doctor first, especially if, due to health problems or just a really comfy couch, exercise may come as a shock to your body.
Just note – you can’t actually “spot-burn” fat. Reducing back fat means reducing your overall body fat. What you can do is increase the muscle tone in your back, through the steps mentioned above, so that you have a stronger and more pronounced back physique, which when combined with some fat loss will give your back the appearance of being stronger and more toned.
Natural Ways to Get Rid of Back Fat
Green tea is something of a miracle, so it’s good to keep a hearty supply on hand. As far as weight loss goes, it can be a big help if you drink a few cups a day, especially if you are using it to replace sugary and higher-calorie drinks. It increases metabolism, gives you more energy, and slows down your body’s fat-storing process — and it can even suppress your appetite a bit. Besides aiding in weight loss, green tea is full of antioxidants that can decrease your cancer risk, boost your immune system and strengthen your bones. We recommend Tazo Green Tea (link to Amazon)
An exercise ball is your perfect “get rid of back fat” companion. To work on your lower back, lie face down, with your pelvis and lower abdomen centered on the ball. With both feet firmly on the floor and hands at the back of your head, slowly raise your upper body until your back is straight. Try holding this position for about five seconds, and then slowly lower yourself back down. Repeat five times. For your upper back, sit on the ball and lean forward from the hips, letting your arms hang alongside your calves. Holding light hand weights (try two pounders first and work up if you’d like), slowly raise your arms to the side, keeping your back straight, until they are parallel to the floor — like an airplane. Pause, slowly lower, and repeat 10 to 15 times. Work up to two sets. If you don’t have an exercise ball, you can order a Yogu ball from Amazon that’s a solid deal and has a good warranty.
Opposite Arm and Leg Lifts
Lie flat on the floor, forehead touching straight down or to the side. Slowly lift your right arm and left leg, keeping your pelvis and chest on the floor, but stop if you feel pain. Hold for a few seconds, lower, and repeat with your left arm and right leg. Try for five reps on each side to start, then work up to more reps (in up to three sets) as you get comfortable with the movements.
This is a great exercise because it will work your core, in addition to your back. You will also feel a shoulder burn, too, as you do anytime you are in the plank position. We like this one because it can be done anywhere — at your house, in a gym, in a hotel room, outside. You don’t need any equipment for this one.
Rear Delt Fly
Sit on the edge of a chair, holding two or three-pound weights in your hands. Bend forward from the hips, tuck your chin into your chest and make your back flat. Starting with your hands at your calves, slowly bring them up alongside your body, bending your elbows until your shoulder blades squeeze together. Pause, then slowly lower your arms. Go for about ten reps to start (working up to three sets), and if you’re not feeling the burn by then . . . try heavier weights.
Lie on your stomach on the floor with your hands at your sides (palms down), drawing in your abdomen to your spine. Slowly raise your head and chest — continue looking down, but keep the top of your head tensed as if it is reaching forward. Now lift your hands, flipping your palms so that your thumbs are pointed out. Reach behind you. Your goal is to work toward four reps, holding for twenty seconds.