Skip to main contentSkip to footer

How to get rid of back fat: your ultimate guide, from causes of back fat to the best exercises

There's more to back fat than we ever knew, but nail the knowledge and you can bid adieu

back fat
Bridie Wilkins
Senior Health & Fitness Writer
Share this:

Learning how to get rid of back fat can seem like mission impossible, but you'll be pleased to hear you're not the only one who thinks so. How to get rid of back fat is one of the most searched terms on Google, proving that while it can be done, the area requires more attention than, say, your stomach or legs.

SEE: 6 best stretches for lower back pain as proven by the experts

It's for that reason that we've called upon the help of personal trainer and performance specialist Luke Worthington to explain what causes back fat, what exercises get rid of back fat, and how to get rid of back fat fast. All that said, we want to get something straight: back fat is by no means a bad thing aesthetically, but if it's a) something you've always felt conscious of, or b) a symptom of an ongoing health condition that you're trying to take stock of, this is the ultimate guide to getting rid.

WATCH: Carol Vorderman details tough workout

What causes back fat?

Luke tells us that the location of body fat on our body comes down to "genetics". "We all have a predisposition to store body fat in particular areas," he explained. "There is no specific reason or cause for storing body fat in one area over another." In other words, it's just the way our DNA is built that means we might store more back fat than other kinds.

READ: 16 simple ways to get a flatter stomach without exercising

Luke adds that we can't "spot reduce" body fat (i.e. select where we lose it from), but we can tone a specific area of the body, which equates to "reducing body fat whilst retaining lean tissue".

How to get rid of back fat fast?

Before we go any further, it's key to note that the more sustainable your approach, the more successful you're likely to be. Think about how realistic it is that you'll be able to maintain a lifestyle change for the rest of your life, as opposed to how quickly you'll get there. To that end, while the following tips from Luke might help you see results sooner, fast doesn't necessarily mean days, or even weeks for that matter. Take your time.

MORE: 23 best home workouts to help you achieve your goals

Luke's formula for getting rid of back fat fast:

  1. A mild and sustainable calorie deficit (ensure this is appropriate for your age, height, gender and weight)
  2. Training against resistance
  3. Consuming adequate protein

"When we simply cut calories without training we reduce our lean tissue, and not necessarily our body fat," Luke explains. "This can result in an overall loss in size, but not an improvement in composition." In layman's terms, you might have less back fat, but it'll still be there – the goal is to convert it to tone by reducing body fat and retaining lean tissue.

Luke adds: "If we strength train without looking at diet we can get stronger, but any kind of aesthetic change is unlikely. Similarly, if we cut calories too severely, or don't have enough protein in our daily diet, we're at risk of losing hard-earned lean tissue."

What exercises get rid of back fat

Luke says that the diet and lifestyle changes above should take priority (calorie deficit + more protein + resistance training). Once those are in order, "we can look to improve the aesthetic of a specific area by increasing the volume of strength training to those muscles," he says. "It's important to understand that the exercises themselves aren't burning body fat, however, they're creating the muscle tone that is revealed when overall body fat is reduced through diet and lifestyle changes."

SEE: 10 of the best back massagers for aches and pains

A balanced and toned back requires us to work all five muscle groups in our back, according to Luke, so instead of going in blind, here's what you're trying to target and what they're responsible for.

  1. The lats - draw the upper arm behind us
  2. The trapezius - pull the shoulder blades up and together
  3. The rhomboids  - draw the shoulder blades down and together
  4. The posterior deltoids  - pull the upper arms out and back into a ’T’ shape
  5. Spinal erectors - Extend the lower back and hold us upright

Still with us? Here are the best exercises to get rid of back fat, as recommended by Luke.

1.TRX row

View post on Instagram

Targets: lats, rhomboids

Do: 3 sets of 12 reps

2. Lat pulldown

lat pulldown© Photo: Alamy

Targets: lats

Do: 3 sets of 8-10 reps

3. Reverse fly

View post on Instagram

Targets: rear deltoids and trapezius

Do: 3 sets of 15 reps

4. Single arm dumbbell row

View post on Instagram

Targets: lats, trapezius

Do: 3 sets of 8 reps per arm 

5. Back extension

back extension© Photo: Alamy

Targets: spinal erectors

Do: 3 sets of 6-8 reps

Like this story? Sign up to our newsletter to get other stories like this delivered straight to your inbox.

More Health & Fitness

See more