If you need to know how to get rid of back fat fast then you’ll find everything you need to know right here.
Wouldn’t it be nice to say “bye-bye back fat?” Sure you might have already made some progress losing weight but for one reason or another, the stubborn back fat just doesn’t seem to budge.
If you’re a woman then having back fat means you might be suffering from the dreaded “bra bulge.” This is where the back fat overflows from the bra. I’ve had women tell me they went to try on dresses but their back fat was spilling over every dress they tried.
All of this is known as stubborn fat and traditional weight loss methods aren’t going to be very effective against it. To lose back fat you’re going to have to approach it differently than standard weight loss.
I know it can be frustrating to look in the mirror and catch a glimpse of stubborn back fat that won’t budge. But the good news is you can lose the back rolls fast by using the right methods.
What Causes Back Fat
Your body doesn’t want you to lose your back fat.
Your body has evolved over thousands of years to hold onto fat in case of future famine. Having these fat reserves meant our ancient ancestors were much more likely to survive if they ran out of food.1
But today it can make it frustrating to not be able to get rid of these stubborn areas on the body that hold onto fat more than others.
Your ancestors were much more likely to survive if they stubbornly held onto fat on their body. This was in case of famine they could survive off their back fat stores.
Unfortunately, today having back fat and love handles is more of an eyesore that can make us self-conscious.
Why does fat go to your back?
These stubborn fat spots on your body are largely determined by your genetics.2 And if you’re reading this then it’s more than likely you inherited the gene to hold onto more back fat.
Just like how some people are born with a pear-shaped body or an apple-shaped body. In your case, you tend to store excess fat in your back area.
If you have too much body fat weight then you’re pre-determined to hold this fat in your back area. But there are also some other causes that are contributing to not being able to lose your back fat and love handles.
Hormones That Cause Back Fat
Stress is a big one. If you’re constantly stressed out then your body will release fat-storing hormones such as cortisol. Studies have found cortisol to be linked to gaining fat in stubborn areas like your belly.3
Another cause of back fat is lack of sleep. If you’re not getting enough adequate sleep then your body will not burn fat as effectively.
Studies have found those on low sleep had less self-control than those who got enough sleep.4 And I don’t have to tell you if you’re lacking self-control then you’re much less likely to stick to your diet and exercise plan.
Studies have also found lack of sleep can cause you to have excess insulin in your body.5 Too much insulin can make you feel hungrier. Plus it can cause your body to store more calories as fat.
Last but not least make sure your gut health is top-notch. Those who have stubborn fat might have gut health problems.6 So much so you could be doing everything else right but you’ll never lose the back fat if your gut is unhealthy.
If you ever suffer from gut problems like bloating, constipation, diarrhea, stomach aches, etc. then you might want to improve your gut health.
How to Slim Your Back
Now it is largely true you can’t traditionally “spot reduce” a specific area on your body.
So if all you did was a few sets of pull-ups you shouldn’t expect to slim down your back fat much at all. Crazy enough, you could possibly make it look bulkier by gaining muscle underneath that fat.
But you can slim down the back fat by lowering your overall excess body weight, reducing body fat, and then toning up the area with exercise.
Losing Body Weight
There’s no two ways about it you won’t be able to get rid of back fat if you’re carry too much excess body weight.
When it comes to weight loss it’s critical to put your body into a caloric deficit. This can either be accomplished by reducing your calorie intake and/or burning off more calories than you’re taking in.
Usually a combination of both works best for losing weight. Women can benefit by lowering their daily calorie intake to 1200 per day and men 1500 per day.
Everybody is different so it’s best to test for yourself what calorie intake results in weight loss for you. For many, they prefer to cut calories by dieting over working out by doing more cardio.
But be careful not to lower your daily calorie intake too low for too long. This can slow-down your metabolism and make it harder to lose weight. If this is the case then try to strategically add in a re-feed cheat day or meal to trigger a whoosh effect.
Lower Your Body Fat
Yet, even after losing weight you can still have stubborn back fat because you’re carrying too much excess body fat.
The problem with just losing weight is it’s not usually enough to get rid of stubborn fat like back fat. Losing weight means you might also be losing muscle.
Stubborn fat will hang around until you burn more body fat. So to completely lose the back fat you’re going to have to lower your body fat and not just lose weight.
I like to tell my clients this swimming pool analogy when it comes to fat loss in stubborn areas like back fat and love handles.
Just like adding water to a swimming pool the water will first flow to the deep end. As the swimming pool fills up it’ll eventually fill out the shallow end too.
As you begin to drain the pool the water will first drain from the shallow end and only then will it drain from the deep end.
Same thing when it comes to fat loss in stubborn areas. You’re going to first lose weight in the easier areas for you. But it’s going to take it a lot more to get the more stubborn spots like your back fat.
Here’s a study finding women with a pear-shaped body lost fat in their upper body way before they lost it in their trunk.7
If you’re man then you should focus on getting your body fat percentage below 15% and ideally around the 10-12% mark. If you’re a woman then you should focus on lowering your body fat percentage to at least below 24% but ideally under 18-20%.
Just because you step on the scale and might see the weight going down it doesn’t mean the fat is also going to go down on your back. And on the otherside, the scale could go up even though you’re burning fat since you’re also building muscle.
So how do you lower your body fat percentage without bulking up? Let’s get to this next…
Target Toning Your Back
Most people on the planet will quickly tell you that you can’t spot reduce stubborn fat. They’re right and wrong at the same time.
Now there are studies proving fat loss can be achieved in areas that are targeted with specific exercises. One study found those who performed exercises on one arm ended up losing more fat on that arm as opposed to the untrained one.8
Spot reduction in the traditional sense is not impossible. It’s just not very effective at all.
So then what’s the best way to exercise to lose lower back fat?
Combine HIIT workouts with specifically targeted exercises for back fat.
HIIT workouts are the best for burning fat and have been backed by science to be much more time efficient than long steady-state cardio.9 High-intensity exercise increases body temperature, fat-burning hormones, and blood flow which all contribute to fat loss.
So by combining HIIT workouts with specific back exercises, you’ll increase the chances of focusing more of your fat-burning on your back fat.
At the very least you will burn more fat off your body. Plus you’ll work to tone your back muscles so they’ll be better shaped and toned.
An example would be doing high-intensity exercises like burpees, hill sprints, jumping rope, mountain climbers, etc. And then, after completing one or some of those exercises, do a back-specific exercise.
So an example workout would be sprinting on a treadmill for 30 seconds. Do a set of pull-ups. Then go back to sprinting on the treadmill. Rinse and repeat.
Best Exercises to Lose Back Fat
For the bent over row exercise, you will need a set of dumbbells.
- Bend your knees and hips until your thighs are parallel to the floor and your torso is at a 45-degree angle to the floor. Brace your core, then grasp the dumbbells and row them to your sides, keeping your elbows close to your body.
- Pause, then return to the starting position. Repeat for the desired number of repetitions.
- Remember to keep your back straight and avoid rounding your shoulders as you row the dumbbells.
The dumbbell reverse fly is an excellent exercise for targeting the muscles in the upper back, including the rear deltoids, traps, and rotator cuff.
- Start by standing with your feet shoulder-width apart and a slight bend in the knees. Then, lean forward from the hips until your torso is at about a 45-degree angle to the ground.
- Next, take a dumbbell in each hand and let them hang down at arm’s length. From this position, raise your arms out to the side and up to shoulder height, keeping your elbows slightly bent. As you lift the weights, squeeze your shoulder blades together.
- Return to the starting position and repeat.
- To perform a dumbbell renegade row, start in a push-up position with your feet shoulder-width apart and your palms flat on the ground. Place a dumbbell under each hand.
- Keep your knees and hips straight so that your body forms a straight line from your head to your heels. From this position, row one dumbbell up to the side of your chest, keeping your elbow close to your body.
- As you row, twist your torso so that your shoulders are level with the dumbbell.
- Return to the starting position and repeat with the other arm. Keep your core engaged throughout the exercise to maintain a stable plank.
1-arm Dumbbell Rows
- Start by placing a dumbbell on the floor next to your left foot. Bend your knees and hinge at the hips, keeping your back straight as you lower your torso until it is at a 30 degree angle to the floor.
- Pick up the dumbbell with your left hand, and row it towards your chest, keeping your elbow close to your body.
- Pause for a moment at the top of the lift, and then slowly lower the weight back to the starting position. Repeat for 10-12 reps before switching sides.
TRX Low Rows
- To set up for the exercise, start by attaching the TRX straps to a stable anchor point. Next, face away from the anchor point and grab the handles with your palms facing in.
- Lean back so that your body forms a straight line from head to heels. From this position, begin to row the handles toward your chest, keeping your core engaged and your body in a straight line.
- When your hands reach your chest, pause for a moment before returning to the starting position. Repeat for 8-12 repetitions.
The scap pushup is a great exercise for strengthening the muscles around the shoulder blades.
- To start, get into a plank position with your elbows placed slightly wider than shoulder-width apart. From there, lower your body down until your chest nearly touches the ground. Be sure to keep your core engaged throughout the movement.
- Once you reach the bottom of the pushup, press back up to the starting position. You should feel a nice stretch in your chest and shoulders.
- To perform a basic pullup, start by gripping the bar with your palms facing away from you. You can keep your legs straight or bend your knees and cross your feet behind you.
- Then, begin to pull yourself up, keeping your core engaged and your body straight. As you near the top of the move, think about pulling your elbows down towards your sides rather than simply lifting your chin over the bar.
- Lower yourself back to the starting position, and repeat for 8-10 repetitions. If you find this exercise too challenging, try doing pullups with a bands or by using an assisted pullup machine.
- To set up the exercise, first attach a resistance band to a sturdy object at about shoulder height.
- Next, grasp the band with an overhand grip, and step back so that there is tension on the band.
- From this position, simply pull the band down towards your feet by keeping your arms straight, and then return to the starting position.
- Be sure to keep your core engaged throughout the movement, and avoid swinging your body or using momentum to cheat.
Band Bent-over Pulls
- To start, stand with your feet shoulder-width apart and wrap a band around an anchoring point about shoulder height.
- Bend your knees and hips, lowering your torso until it is nearly parallel to the floor. Grasp the band with your hands shoulder-width apart and exhale as you pull it down to your chest by driving your elbows back behind you.
- Pause for a moment and then slowly return to the starting position. Remember to keep your core engaged throughout the movement to maintain a stable spine.
Best Diet to Lose Back Fat
The best diet to get rid of back fat is going to be one that also lowers your overall body fat.
Studies have found a high protein diet to be very effective for lowering weight while preserving lean muscle and burning fat.10 Protein is satiating so it’ll help make you feel fuller for longer.
Also, consider going low-carb as it will help to increase how much fat you burn.11 Eating too many carbohydrates (especially refined carbs) can slow down your fat burning.
When you eat too many carbs they get converted to glycogen in your body as a fuel source for future energy needs. So whenever you exercise your body will first user glycogen stores instead of burning off fat.
You’ll also start storing those excess carbs as fat if you aren’t burning them off right away. But once you lower your carb intake, you’ll quickly burn through these glycogen stores and burn off more fat for fuel.12
Make sure you’re also cutting out the foods that slow your metabolism, raise inflammation, and put your body into a fat-storing mode.
These bad foods you want to eliminate from your diet include:
- processed foods
- refined carbs
- excess alcohol
- seed oils
Make sure that you’re watching your daily calorie intake for the day. Recording what you eat in a food journal and calorie counting app can help a lot. Most people vastly underestimate just how many calories they’re consuming daily.13
For the best diet that combines all of these strategies to burn fat from stubborn body areas I highly recommend The Flat Belly Formula.
Tightening Loose Skin
If you do find yourself with loose flabby skin where your back fat was then it’ll be crucial to tightening it back up.
Many people experience loose skin after weight loss, especially as they age. If you lose a lot of weight, the skin can become loose, like deflating a balloon.
Skin integrity and elasticity wear down with age. Skin elasticity is its ability to “snap back” to its origin. But as skin elasticity worsens with time, it loses its ability to snap back.
Collagen production goes down with age causing the loss of skin elasticity. Collagen is the most abundant protein in the human body and dermatologists call it the “support structure for your skin.”
But the good news is you can rebuild this lost collagen by supplementing with collagen peptides.14 Studies have found collagen supplementation also reduces the appearance of wrinkles and fine lines.15
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Stubborn back fat can seem to hang on forever despite losing weight. The truth is you’ll have to approach losing those last pounds of stubborn fat differently from general weight loss.
You’ll still have to lose excess body fat weight by putting your body into a caloric deficit. You can’t out-train a bad diet, so you’ll have to keep your calories in check to keep the weight going down.
Use fat-burning workouts such as high-intensity interval training along with targeted specific exercises for your back. This’ll create the best chances of getting rid of the back fat through exercise.
Then follow the simple dieting strategies laid out above. Eat a high protein and low-carb diet. Consume only healthy fats. Stop eating fattening foods that cause inflammation and keep you from burning fat.
Finally, if you find yourself with loose skin you can improve skin elasticity with collagen. Then you should be able to lose the back fat once and for all.
Josh holds a Bachelor’s degree in Exercise Physiology and Nutrition Science. He’s a Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist (CSCS) by the National Strength and Conditioning Association and he’s a Certified Personal Trainer (CPT) by American Council on Exercise. He’s worked as a Strength and Conditioning Coach at the high school and college levels. He has over 15 years of experience as a personal trainer and nutrition coach. He is also the author of The Flat Belly Formula. He strives to bring inspiration and results for people to live healthier lives through smart diet and exercise.