I often get asked by my training clients “which exercises get rid of back fat?”
Well, here’s what to do, to look fabulous in a bikini or backless dress…
Firstly, through specific strengthening exercises for the back and rear shoulders, you can make your back look more firm and sculpted. These exercises can improve your posture, and make your waist appear smaller, by giving your body more of a ‘V’ shape.
Secondly, there needs to be a combined approach of whole body exercise and diet, to lose body fat all over, in order to reduce that bra overhang.
Back Fat Workout Overview
- Frequency: 2-3 times a week, with at least 1 rest day in-between.
- Repetitions: 8-12 reps.
- Sets: 3
- Rest: 1 minute or less between sets.
- Seated Rows
- Face Pulls
- Resistance bands
Do at least a 5 minute warm-up [CLICK HERE] at the beginning of every workout, consisting of some movements to warm up your joints, and a little bit of cardio at an easy pace.
Cool down: finish with 10-15 second static stretches for your back, biceps and shoulders.
Equipment—Which Resistance Band to Buy?
Resistance bands are great pieces of equipment. They work a lot like the cable machines in the gym, but they are small and easy to travel with. You can fit a whole collection of bands with different resistance levels in a small bag. You can work your entire body with bands.
|Pull Up Bands||Resistance Exercise Tubes|
For the two exercises in this Get Rid of Back Fat routine, either of the two types of band shown above are suitable.
Pull Up Bands are often made from latex, and slightly more suitable for Face Pulls, as you’ll be trying to pull the band apart.
Resistance Exercise Tubes usually have handles, which can be more comfortable to hold during the rowing. You can buy either bands with handles fixed to them, or more flexible versions which have various clip on attachments, such as handles, and ankle cuffs.
The bands are usually colour coded, and frequently using the same progression of colours to indicate stronger levels of resistance. You might think one green band is the same as another, but I’ve found they don’t always offer the same resistance—so it can be worthwhile to double check the estimated resistance level.
Whether you decide on Pull Up Bands or Resistance Exercise Tubes, I’d recommend you buy a collection of bands, rather than a single band. It will work out cheaper in the long run, and you’ll have the flexibility of using them for a variety of exercises.
1. Seated Rows
This exercise works the middle back, and also biceps, latissimus dorsi (the muscle under your armpits responsible for the tapering ‘V’ shape), and rear deltoids (shoulders).
If you’re using a Pull Up Band, I find most women are comfortable with the purple 40-80 lbs, or the stronger green 50-100 lbs band.
- Sit on the floor with feet together, and loop one end of the band around the middle of your feet. You can do this exercise in socks, but shoes will make the exercise more comfortable.
- Hand position:
- Pull Up Band: put one hand on each side of the band and grip it. I like to hold it with my knuckles angled slightly forward and down, as it works my back better; some people prefer to turn their palms upwards, but I find this shifts more of the work to the biceps and away from the back.
- Resistance Exercise Tube: hold a handle in each hand using a ‘hammer-style’ grip (like holding two ice cream cones).
- Sit up straight, with your legs only slightly bent. If you occasionally get lower back pain, or this position feels uncomfortable, then you may need to bend your legs further until comfortable.
- With a ‘proud’ chest, pull both arms back towards your torso, keeping the inside of your arms and forearms very close to your ribcage (don’t flare your elbows out).
- Imagine you’re elbowing someone behind you, rather than pulling the band with your arms—that will help to keep more emphasis on your back muscles, and less on your arms.
- Keep pulling until your shoulder blades squeeze together, by which time your wrists will probably be just under your breasts. Breathe out, as you hold this peak contraction position for one second.
- Then slowly outstretch your arms in front of you again, as you breathe in. Repeat.
If you’re having a problem pulling the band close enough to reach your torso, then you can use a band with less resistance. Or if you’re using a Pull Up Band, then you can grip the bands slightly closer to your trunk at the start the exercise (so there is more slack in the band).
Conversely, to make it harder, either get a stronger band, or start by gripping the band closer to your feet.
2. Face Pulls
Whenever I mention the Face Pulls exercise for the first time, training clients think I’m making it up—I promise it really is a legitimate exercise 🙂 It’s commonly performed by powerlifters.
Whilst it has one of the most bizarre names, it’s a great exercise for overall shoulder and scapula mobility, plus it also works the lower part of the trapezius muscle and the rhomboids (the bit between your shoulder blades).
Face Pulls can help with posture, to improve that hunched forward look—often experienced by office workers. You’ll probably feel quite a pump in your shoulders as well.
You won’t be anyway near as strong in this exercise as you were for the rowing, so you’ll need a much easier resistance band. If you’re using a Pull Up Band, then most women will use an orange 0-15 lbs band.
Secure the end of the band to a post, door handle, tree, or anything else that is strong enough and stable. Ideally it should be attached level with your upper chest—lower than this is okay, but if it’s higher then you don’t benefit so much from the shoulder rotation part of the exercise.
- Hold your arms outstretched in front of you, gripping the band with an overhand-grip (like pushing a shopping cart). You’ll need to experiment on how far apart to hold your hands, depending on your strength level for the band you’re using.
- Brace your core, and either assume a split stance with your legs, or bend both knees a little, to stop you from falling forward when you begin the exercise.
- Keeping your whole body tight, and your chest up, pull your hands towards your forehead, whilst you simultaneously pull apart the band. Feel your shoulder blades squeeze together.
- Aim to rotate your arms back as far as you can (without pain of course). If you know what a bodybuilding ‘double-biceps pose’ is, then your finish position will look similar to that.
- Keep your head neutral, or slightly tucked in—don’t move your head to the band. Hold the contracted position for 2 seconds, then move your arms back to the outstretched position in front of you.
- Repeat for 8-12 reps.
George D. Choy
Personal Trainer & Calisthenics Instructor
Gymnacity in Oxted, Surrey, United Kingdom
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