Whether it’s the bulge just above your buttocks or that roll under your bra strap, back fat can be a real bummer. But besides making you feel less confident, back fat can also be a precursor to other health problems.
If you are ready to tighten up those back muscles and say goodbye to back fat, keep reading. We’re breaking down what causes back fat, why it can be dangerous to your health, and how you can fight it.
What Causes Back Fat?
Back fat accumulates for the same reasons we gain weight elsewhere on our bodies. Low levels of physical activity and diets high in sugar, salt, or saturated fat can be the culprits. Genetics can also play a role, and aging makes it even more challenging to keep that bod tight and toned.
It’s also easy to neglect your back muscles, even as an athlete. Our everyday lives use our arms and pecs much more than our backs: carrying groceries, sitting at desks, and even many exercise movements (burpees, dumbbell exercises, and many Olympic lifts) focus on front-sided muscle groups. Therefore, your back muscles don’t get as much love, making them weaker faster.
The Risks of Back Fat
Concentrations of excess fat anywhere on your body can mean an increased body mass index (BMI). A higher BMI puts you at greater risk of cardiovascular disease, high blood pressure, and certain cancers.
Back fat isn’t uncommon. Most of the time, it’s simply a result of a less-than-perfect diet, loss of muscle mass, or aging. But it can also indicate other health problems that warrant a trip to your doctor.
In some cases, back fat could point to issues like insulin resistance, high testosterone or low carbohydrate tolerance, pre-diabetes, polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), and an increased risk of infertility. If you have long struggled with back fat and can’t seem to lose it, no matter how many back extensions you do, consider contacting a medical professional.
5 Exercises to Torch Back Fat
Here’s the good news: there are ways to torch that back fat and slim down your backside. Eating a healthier diet and increasing your physical activity will help with your BMI overall. The exercises below will also target those pesky areas, strengthening and muscalizing your back.
1. Bent-over row
The bent-over row is an excellent exercise for targeting your latissimus dorsi (the large wing-like muscles in your back), middle and lower trapezius muscles, rhomboids, and posterior deltoids. Those are a lot of muscle groups worked in just one exercise!
You can do bent-over rows using a barbell, two dumbbells, a resistance band, or even two jugs of water.
Start with a slight bend in your knees, back straight, and hinge at the waist. Pull your elbows up and back, focusing on squeezing your shoulder blades together each time.
2. Kettlebell swings
Kettlebell swings seem straightforward, but they engage multiple muscle groups along the posterior chain, including hamstrings, glutes, spinal erector, and the muscles in your upper back.
Kettlebell swings are also great for strengthening your core muscles, leading to a stronger posture and, therefore, stronger back muscles.
3. GHD back extension
Your lower back needs some love, too. GHD back extensions are a great way to increase your range of motion while strengthening your lower back, glutes, and hamstrings.
If you don’t have access to a GHD machine or you’re working out at home, “supermans” are a great alternative. Start laying face down on the floor with your legs straight behind you and your hands behind your head. Lift your chest and legs off the ground at the same time, hold for a few seconds, then slowly lower down and repeat.
4. Lat pulldown
Resistance bands are perfect for toning your back muscles. As the name suggests, the lat pulldown works the latissimus dorsi, a large muscle group in your upper and mid back.
Start with the resistance band looped around something high, like a power rack, garage door track, or something else sturdy enough to handle the resistance.
Then, pull the band down, keeping your elbows close to your body, focusing on squeezing your shoulder blades and upper back muscles.
5. Renegade row
Finally, we’ll target those obliques and the back fat that sits just above your buttocks – the dreaded “muffin top.”
Using two dumbbells, start in a high plank position. Holding the dumbbells, slowly row on one side, lifting the dumbbell while you keep your elbow close to your body. Slowly lower down before switching sides.
This exercise will strengthen your core, work those obliques, and engage your upper back muscles, too.
Progress Over Perfection
If you remember nothing else from this blog, remember this: you are perfect, just the way you are. A little extra fluff doesn’t mean you’re any less beautiful or worthy.
We think everyone should love the skin they’re in. That’s where tightening and toning come into play: it’s one way to increase self-confidence. So, if you choose to build muscle and reduce back fat, we applaud you. But we applaud you if you are perfectly happy with the way you are, too!
That said, toning your body takes time. It’s all about consistency, embracing progress over perfection. Eat healthy. Keep showing up at the gym, even when you lose the motivation to keep going. One day at a time, you’ll improve your health, build strength, and ultimately reach your health and fitness goals.