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At some point, most of us will ask the question – how to lose back fat? It’s one of the most likely places you’re going to have a little excess, second only to the belly. Just like the belly, it can be a total, and utter pain to shift. So, how do you shift that back fat? Unfortunately, there’s no magic bullet, and it takes a bit of work on your part. That’s the bad news! The good news is it’s entirely possible with the right mindset, and plan. It takes a combination of different factors, and we’re going to look at them all. So, without further ado, let’s just get into it!

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What’s causing my back fat?

Fat accumulation on the body is essentially caused by taking in more calories than you end up using. Or put crudely, eating too much, and not exercising enough!

How much is too much is different for everyone though. For instance, you may have a friend who seemingly eats a mountain of food each day, and never gains a pound. However, that doesn’t mean you should be able to do the same. Your friend may have a faster metabolism, or do more exercise than you.

Other factors can affect metabolism too, and we will look at those later.

These things make a huge difference in terms of calorie expenditure. And that’s essentially what fat accumulation boils down to, overall calorie intake versus overall calorie expenditure.

If you have a daily calorie excess you will create fat stores on your body. If you have a daily calorie deficit you will begin to reduce fat stores on your body.

So, in a nutshell, back fat is caused by a sustained calorie excess.

How can I reduce my back fat?

You need to use it to lose it! To lose back fat you need to burn it off as energy. Easier said than done, I know.

As mentioned in the previous section, if you have a sustained daily calorie deficit, the fat stores on your body will begin reducing.

There are three different ways to create a calorie deficit –

  1. Reduce daily calorie intake.
  2. Increase exercise amount.
  3. Reduce calorie intake and increase exercise amount.

All options are perfectly viable. However, option 3 would be my preferred method. The reason is that it splits the load so to speak.

For example, let’s say you have to drop 300 cals per day to get into a calorie deficit. You can do 150 cals worth of exercise, and drop 150 cals worth of food.

In my opinion, this will be easier, or less extreme perhaps, than dropping 300 cals worth of food or doing 300 cals worth of exercise.

Fat Burning Diet to Lose Back Fat?

The principle remains the same with all diets. To create enough of a calorie deficit that your body will eventually need to burn into its reserve energy store, your fat. However, particular diets will make your body exclusively use fat as its only energy source. The Keto diet is one example of such a diet.

It works by severely restricting what is normally your body’s preferred fuel source – carbohydrates. By limiting the intake of carbs your body is then forced to use its backup fuel – fat. We need to get rid of this, so it would appear to make sense to do this. However, as with all diets it takes motivation and commitment to adapt to the change and stick with it for as long as needed.

Check out this article – “List of Foods for Keto Diet: Quick Guide” if you want to try your hand at the keto diet. Or if you prefer, you might choose to purchase a customized plan, of which there are many available.

Whatever way you do it, Keto, and other fat-burning diets, are certainly worth consideration to include in your plan to lose back fat.

What exercises will help to lose back fat?

No exercise will spot burn fat from just your back, or any other part of your body for that matter. What generally happens is that fat is used from all over the body, with the midriff fat being the last to go. Check out this article – “How long does it take to get fit and toned” for more explanation on that.

All exercise will burn fat to some degree, but in my opinion medium intensity, long-duration cardio exercises will burn the most fat in the long term. Things like cycling, running, and swimming are your best friend when it comes to burning fat. An hour of these will burn around 600 cals an hour (very rough avg).

You may be asking at this point – why do any strength training then? Simple answer – to build more muscle. Muscle requires energy to function, the bigger it is more energy it uses. More muscle mass = larger daily calorie requirement. So, it becomes in your interest to build more muscle.

Increased muscle mass anywhere on the body will help. However, since we are wanting to lose back fat, let’s focus on strength exercises that will build, and define the back. After all, who wants to look at a skinny, bony, shapeless looking back when you finally do get rid of your back fat.

List of exercises to build, strengthen, and define the back

#1 Back Extension on the Floor

An easy one to start with. This back exercise targets the back muscles (erector spinae) on either side of your spine. Once you lose some back fat, these will reveal themselves as two columns of muscle on either side of your spine at your lower back.

How to do back extension on the floor correctly.

  1. Lay face down on an exercise mat.
  2. Legs straight behind.
  3. Arms by side, above head, or on the lower back.
  4. Lift your torso upward, keep looking downward.
  5. Stop once back muscles fell like fully contracted.
  6. Lower back down to start position.
  7. You have now completed one rep.

#2 Reverse Hip Raise with Exercise Ball

For this back exercise, you will need an exercise ball (swiss ball). Much like the back extension on the floor this works your lower back. However, this time you work your back by raising your legs instead of the torso.

How to do reverse hip raise with exercise ball correctly.

  1. Lay on top of an exercise ball, face down.
  2. Position the ball just below the hips.
  3. Support the upper body using arms, like in a push up position.
  4. Rest toes on the floor, feet a little apart.
  5. Begin to slowly lift legs into the air.
  6. Stop once back muscles feel fully contracted.
  7. Hold for a second or two.
  8. Slowly lower legs back down again.
  9. You have now completed 1 rep.

*Note – keep the shoulders, arms, and torso steady and strong throughout the movement. Go slowly at first as balance and coordination are required.

#3 Lat Pull Down with Resistance Bands

This back exercise works your latissimus dorsi, or lats as they are more commonly known. This muscle also happens to be the biggest muscle of the back. Adding bulk and definition to this muscle will certainly make your back more sculpted looking.

How to do lat pull downs with resistance bands correctly.

  1. Find a secure anchor for your band at anything above chest height.
  2. Grab part of the band in both hands.
  3. Move back until you get the required tension.
  4. Lean your torso over, and extend arms above your head.
  5. The back, arms, and bands should be in a straight line.
  6. With bands tensioned you are now in the start position.
  7. Pull down on the bands, allowing the arms to bend.
  8. The elbows should find their natural stop point by sides.
  9. Return to start position, under control.
  10. You have now completed 1 rep.

*Note – The anchor point for your bands can be anywhere such as door, pull-up bar, etc. Just make sure that it is secure enough to hold under the full intended tension.

The lower your anchor point, the more horizontal your upper body will become. This will make it easier to become unbalanced under a heavy tension pull. Keep this in mind when choosing your anchor point. An anchor point straight above will give the most stability and maximum tension possibility.

You can also make this a wide lat pull down by moving the elbows out, and down toward your sides, as opposed to elbows straight down.

#4 Seated Resistance Band Rows

This one’s definitely going to help with your ‘lose back fat’ mission. This back exercise works the upper back, back of shoulders, and the lats so it’s a great all-rounder. All you need is some good resistance bands and a floor.

How to do seated resistance band rows correctly.

  1. Sit on the floor with legs together, straight out in front.
  2. Place the middle of the band around the base of your feet.
  3. Grab an end of the band in each hand.
  4. Straighten up your back, and find correct tension in the band.
  5. Begin the pull using just the shoulder blades, pulling them back, and together.
  6. Finish the pull using the arms, bringing hands up to just below the chest.
  7. Allow hands to return to start position.
  8. You have now completed 1 rep.

#Note – It is important when doing this to keep back straight, don’t slouch over. Keep neck, and back lined and straight. Focus on using your back muscles to perform the pull and not just your arms.

#5 Oblique Floor Crunches

These work your sides, just above your hips, or the obliques as they are known. A common spot where back fat gathers. When you lose that back fat you’ll definitely want these poking out and showing off! As an added bonus the abs are also worked in this exercise.

How to do oblique floor crunches correctly.

  1. Lay down flat on the floor, face up.
  2. Cross your left leg over your right.
  3. Put your left hand behind your head.
  4. Place your right hand on top of your left thigh.
  5. The upper back should still be flat on the floor.
  6. Lift the torso upwards, driving left elbow toward the ceiling.
  7. Stop when you feel a good contraction in the abs and core.
  8. Slowly return to start position.
  9. You have now completed 1 rep on your left side.
  10. To work the right side, simply switch over the hand, and leg positions.

*Note – You won’t need to lift the torso off the floor very much for this. It’s not about how high you can lift yourself. Focus on feeling the contraction, and holding the correct form throughout the movement.

#6 Shoulder Shrugs with Resistance Bands

This exercise works the trapezius, or traps as commonly known. It’s one of the largest muscles of the upper back. Once you start to lose back fat, this muscle, when developed, will give an impressive, and muscular appearance to your back.

How to do shoulder shrugs with resistance bands correctly.

  1. Stand straight up, and place the band under your feet.
  2. Grab the band with both hands, and find good tension.
  3. Arms should be straight by your side.
  4. Begin by pulling shoulders towards the ears.
  5. Remember to keep your arms, and neck straight.
  6. Stop once you get a good contraction in traps.
  7. Lower slowly back down to start position.
  8. You have now completed 1 rep.

#Note – Remember to keep your arms straight, and pull by moving the shoulders only. This is what engages the traps. Resist the urge to pull the band up using the arms. Also, keep the back and neck straight throughout the movement.

Vary this trap workout by rolling back the shoulders, and squeezing them together, at the top of the exercise. This will engage, and develop the mid-portion of your traps. The part that’s responsible for pulling the shoulder blades together.

Other factors to consider in a ‘lose back fat’ plan

Here are some other factors that can greatly affect your ability to lose back fat, and lose weight in general.

Factor #1 – Increasing your sleep amount

A lack of sleep is believed to be a contributing factor when it comes to gaining weight. Insufficient sleep can increase hunger and appetite, and links have been observed between reduced sleep and weight gain. It’s thought that sleep duration may affect ghrelin, and leptin, the hormones that regulate hunger. Also, common sense should tell you that a fatigued, tired body is not going to be motivated, and clear thinking. So, do your body a favor, and give it the rest it really needs.

Factor #2 – Reducing your stress

Cortisol is a hormone that’s responsible for regulating your metabolism. It’s produced by the adrenal glands on your kidneys when your body is over-stressed and temporarily slows your metabolism. Check out this article for more detail. It also increases your appetite for sweet, fatty salty foods.

So, stress can cause an increase in appetite, and a reduction in metabolism, I’m sure you can see where this is headed! A disaster scenario for your lose back fat plan, that’s where.

So, make time for relaxation in your life, because being stressed certainly won’t help you strip fat.

Factor #3 – Drinking more water

There are many benefits to drinking more water and why it will help you lose fat.

  • A natural appetite suppressant.
  • Removes waste from the body.
  • Reduces liquid calorie intake.
  • Required to burn fat.
  • Helps with workouts.
  • Increases calorie burning.

Check out this article for an in-depth explanation of the above points. Needless to say, if water does all these things, which are integral to your lose back fat plan, then you can’t afford to neglect it!


Losing back fat isn’t easy, but it can be done. It’s hard, but nowhere near impossible. Exercise, diet, and a healthy lifestyle are the key ingredients.

If I had to give someone one piece of advice about losing weight, it would be the following.

It’s vitally important to be aware of the challenge in front of you, and KNOW that you can do it.

Getting your mind right before you start on anything makes it ten times easier. Also, remember to give yourself time to do this. Trying to do too much, too soon is the downfall of so many. Don’t be one of them. And always remember, if you put the work in, you will reap the rewards.

As always, feel free to leave a comment. Let me know if this has helped you out if you liked it, or you’ve any of your own advice to add.


Always consult your GP before undertaking any form of weight loss, fitness, or exercise.

Michael Duffy
Michael Duffy

Fitness, health, and outdoor enthusiast! 2 decade of experience training for, and competing in different sports. Boxer, runner, road cyclist, triathlete, and XC mountain biker. More about me here.

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