Not satisfied with the overall appearance of your back? Do you have excess ‘flab’ lingering around your lower back and sides that you simply can’t get rid of? What about your upper back? Are you tired of turning around in the mirror only to see flab hanging over your bra strap? If you’ve answered yes to one or more of these questions and are one of the many individuals out there struggling with an unsightly appearance of stubborn back fat, read on to learn why it occurs and what you can do about it.

So, why do you have back fat in the first place?

Well, before I really cut to the chase, a brief review of back anatomy is warranted.

The back is made up of three parts: the upper, middle, and lower back. The upper back includes the trapezius (traps) muscles and rear deltoids (shoulders) while the middle back is primarily comprised of the latissimus dorsi (lats) and rhomboids. Finally, the lower back is made up of several muscles collectively referred to as the erector spinae. This is the most mobile part of the back, which allows movements such as turning, twisting, and bending.

The appearance of back fat most commonly results from two factors: 1) atrophy of the back muscles, and 2) excess body fat. Atrophy is essentially a state in which muscles have wasted away and lost their size and strength. Causes of muscle atrophy include poor nutrition and a lack of exercise, especially resistance (weight) training.

Related Article: 8 Reasons Why Women Should Weight Train

Poor nutrition and a lack of exercise are also related to excess body fat, the second contributor to back fat. Fat (adipose) tissue is sandwiched between back muscles and an external layer of skin.

Excess fat tissue accumulation around the back promotes the appearance of back flab around your upper and lower back as well as around your sides because this type of tissue is not very dense. The flab around your lower back and sides greatly contribute to the appearance of ‘muffin top’.

Related Article: 5 Tips for a Muffin Top

Given these facts, the solution for ridding your body of stubborn back fat should be clear — Work your back muscles and lose the fat. So, now that you have a clearer understanding about back fat, here are three ways to cure it:

Tip 1: Sculpt Your Back

Obviously, with so many different muscle groups, your back workout should indeed be one of the most extensive during resistance training yet many people, especially women, only work a small fraction of their back (if at all) during workouts.

When is the last time you’ve worked yours?

Imagine how many years of lingering muscle atrophy lie beneath.

Truth is, sculpting your back requires performing resistance exercises that specifically target this area from top to bottom with the goal of enhancing the strength and tone of all the muscle groups. You can do this by performing the following exercises on 2-3 non-consecutive days per week:

  • One-Arm Dumbbell Rows
  • Lat Pulldowns
  • Stiff-Leg Deadlifts
  • Barbell Pullovers
  • Planks

For all exercises (except planks), perform 2-4 sets of 8-12 repetitions. Begin with weights that fatigue your muscles between 8 and 12 repetitions (Translation: 8 should feel like you are not going to make it to 12 but light enough for you to get there). As for planks, you can perform 1-3 sets of this exercise, holding the position for 30-60 seconds (or more).

Although it’s tempting to primarily focus on your back you shouldn’t limit your training to this area as you have a host of other upper- and lower-body muscle groups that can also experience atrophy and accumulate excess fat without exercise. As such, you should perform resistance exercises to target these muscle groups as well.

Related Article: Weight Training 101: What You Need To Know Before You Lift

Tip 2: Burn Your Back Fat

That’s right. You can’t avoid the sweat session. Although ‘spot reduction’ is not possible when it comes to fat burning, you can choose from the following cardiovascular exercises to give your back a fat burning boost:

  • Elliptical Training (using both your legs and your arms)
  • Jogging or Running (with arm swinging)
  • Rowing
  • Cardio Kickboxing
  • Aerobic Dancing (with coordinated arm movements)

Perform one or more of these exercises 5-6 days each week for at least 30 minutes, ideally at a high- or moderately high-intensity. While low-to-moderate-intensity exercise has many health benefits, I must tell you that higher intensities of exercise are great for the back.

Related Article: Target Heart Rate: Are You Working Out Hard Enough?

Tip 3: Eat Right

As a complement to your exercise training, eating sensibly is critical for ridding your body of stubborn back fat. So, ensure you’re consuming adequate amounts of high-quality protein in the forms of fish and seafood, poultry, lean meats, low-fat dairy foods and/or soy products. Protein helps prevent muscle wasting and also fuels the fat-burning process.

Now, you must always burn more calories than you consume, no matter what. So don’t forget to continuously track your daily calorie consumption and expenditure to avoid accumulating excess back fat.

Related Article: A Simple Guide to Eating Sensibly

That’s it! By following these tips, you’ll successfully burn excess fat, build up those muscles, and get your sexy back for good.