If you’re looking to tone your back, you probably know that tons of benefits come with it. It can improve your posture, reduce the risk of injury, eliminate back pain, and strengthen your core. If you’re worried about how this area looks (which is totally understandable!), you may be curious to know how to get rid of back fat while reaping all of these health perks through your diet and training routine.
Still, you should know back fat is totally normal. “Genetics and lifestyle habits play a role in how our body stores fat, and no matter how much we would like to, it is nearly impossible to spot-treat back fat,” says Jordan Farrell, an exercise physiologist and certified personal trainer.
That’s true across the board, and it applies to other body parts like your legacy and arms too. “When it comes to losing fat and building muscle, unfortunately, we don’t get to decide where the fat loss comes from. It’s best to focus on overall fat loss through exercise and diet. Over time that will help in reducing fat in that area,” adds Farrell.
A few workouts along with healthy eating habits can help you achieve overall results and build back muscle. Read on for expert advice on all things fitness and nutrition for a stronger, more supportive back.
Meet the experts: Jordan Farrell is an exercise physiologist and certified personal trainer. Amy Gorin is a registered dietitian nutritionist with a specialty in plant-based eating and the owner of Plant Based with Amy. Helen Tieu is a nutritionist and certified diabetes educator in Vancouver, Canada.
1. Incorporate the right weights into your workout.
Using weights during your workouts plays a big role in eliminating back fat. But using the right weights is just as important.
“Be sure to choose an appropriate load that allows your reps to be completed at a full range of motion for each exercise,” says Farrell. “You should also be able to complete each rep with control.” If you’re just starting to use weights, she recommends eight to 12 reps for two to three sets.
2. Don’t neglect your core.
A strong back supports a solid core, and vice versa. By focusing on your core, you’re providing yourself with the foundation to take on more activities in and outside the gym. Some exercises for building core strength include dead bugs, bridges, plank variations, bird dogs, and supermans, according to Farrell.
3. Make sleep a priority.
Your recovery process is just as important as your workout and meal plan. Getting the right amount of sleeping will keep you energized and more likely to stay on track with your goals. Something to note: You’re also burning calories when you sleep.
Your body and mind endure a lot throughout the day, and your nervous system is constantly trying to figure out the best way to manage all the stress, which means increased levels of cortisol. When you give your body rest, you’re also able to recover by decreasing cortisol levels and digesting food.
4. Keep up with your cardio.
cardio goes a long time when you want to gain muscle and lose weight. “Steady-state cardio such as walkinglow impact aerobics, rowingand biking are great for fat loss, as they allow you to train at a lower intensity for a longer period, which is also great for your heart,” explains Farrell. In other words, embrace those hot girl walks.
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5. Don’t be afraid to mix it up in your routine.
There are plenty of machines in the gym that target your back muscles, and you can try out some new moves on the ones you already know. “You can use a TRX suspension trainer for inverted rows, cable machine for rows or lateral pull downs, and kettlebells or dumbbells for unilateral (single side) work,” suggests Farrell.
6. Monitor your calorie intake.
To lose weight, you need to be in a calorie deficit. You can eat a nutritious diet and still gain weight if you aren’t careful about your portions and overall intake.
“I always recommend that your diet is composed of at least 80 percent minimally processed foods,” says Helen Tieu, RD, a nutritionist and certified diabetes educator in Vancouver, Canada.
7. Stay hydrated.
Ideally, you want to aim for 11. 5 cups of water a day, according to the Mayo Clinic. Water helps flush out toxins and aids with performance during workouts. Additionally, our bodies are made of around 60 percent of water. So when you’re not hydrating properly, your body will store whatever water you have in your system to help maintain the balance of water, sodium, and electrolytes, which leads to waterweight.
8. Work more fish into your diet.
“You can roast salmon and pair it with brown rice and roasted veggies for a quick dinner, or you can even make salmon bacon,” says Amy GorinRD, a nutritionist specializing in plant-based eating.
9. Load up on fiber.
fiber from all foods keeps you full and can help with weight loss, but Gorin specifically recommends adding chickpeas to your diet. Eating foods such as chickpeas and lentils daily can amount to about one pound of weight loss in roughly six weeks, a 2016 study in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found. “I like to add chickpeas to rice bowls, and I also make crunchy chickpeas for a nutritious snack,” Gorin adds.
10. Cut back on alcohol.
“Alcohol Slows down the body’s ability to process sugar,” says Farrell. It can also have an impact on your cravings and dietary decision-making. “If you’re a social drinker, that probably leads you to make different food choices than they would on a sober day-to-day if they were by themselves,” she adds.
11. Don’t rush the process.
No matter what your fitness goal may be, consistency is key. That means managing expectations is a must. “Usually within that first three to six weeks, we might start noticing some changes, and it really depends on how your body is genetically made up and how it adapts to working out,” notes Farrell. “So it’s really just about giving yourself grace.”
Sabrina is an editorial assistant for Women’s Health. When she’s not writing, you can find her running, training in mixed martial arts, or reading.