How to Lose Upper Back Fat with Exercise And Diet

Losing upper back fat does not have to be hard – in fact, it's easier than you suppose! You need to perform exercises that concentrate on the muscles in your back.

Sanchari Bhattacharya
Written by Sanchari Bhattacharya , Health & Fitness Expert
Updated on May 18, 2023 | 03:32 PM IST | 346.4K
How to Lose Upper Back Fat
How to Lose Upper Back Fat

Losing body fat from just specific parts of the body is not possible. It’s necessary to lose overall fat to lose back fat (1).

Several reasons for obesity include genetics, lack of exercise, etc. In this article, we have described the different causes of upper back fat and how to lose upper back fat through exercise and diet. Various exercises can help tone your upper back;  however, the approach that uses a combination of diet and exercise to reduce overall body fat also reduces the fat around the back.

There are also lifestyle changes, like getting enough sleep, preparing your food ahead of time, and increasing the amount of cardio you do during each workout session, that can make losing your back fat a lot easier. To lose upper body fat you should follow a diet that is calorie deficient, has low sodium content, and is rich in fiber and combine it with exercise.

In overweight individuals, it is necessary to add dietary changes as well with exercises to get desired effects and significant weight loss (2).

What Causes Upper Back Fat?

What Causes Upper Back Fat?

Upper body fat distribution in obesity is closely linked with metabolic complexities (3).  A lack of cardio exercise or a sedentary lifestyle can also contribute to back fat. Inactivity is the main cause of obesity rather than overeating. There is a study from Uppsala University that has found that genetic factors have a great influence on where you store fat in your body (4). Genes affect weight fluctuation in many ways. Genes can contribute to obesity by affecting appetite, metabolism, body-fat distribution, and the individual's tendency to use eating as a way to manage stress. Study shows that being overweight and obese is closely linked with genetics and environmental factors (5).

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The intake of excess sodium can also cause weight gain by retaining water in the body. Besides this, stress, lack of sleep, and medications also cause bloating and weight gain. Also, drastic changes in diet patterns like taking meals at different times that are out of your daily routine may disturb your food metabolism and lead to obesity (6).

How to Lose Upper Back Fat with Exercise?

The fat that accumulates on the chest and back (also referred to as upper trunk fat) is associated with an increased risk of insulin resistance, and poor glucose tolerance (7), (8). Therefore it’s necessary to get rid of it. Fat loss occurs when the amount of energy you are expending is greater than the energy consumed (9). Performing back fat workouts will help you lose upper back fat as exercising can promote weight loss. This in turn decreases insulin resistance, which is characteristic of obesity (10). A sufficient amount of evidence from randomized clinical trials is also present that shows that adding an exercise program to your weight loss program will result in extra weight loss (11).

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A systematic review also shows that if you increase the level of your physical activity, it will have a positive effect on your fat loss (12). When the body is under exercise training, fatty acid oxidation is increased, and the fatty acid is converted to carbon dioxide in the consumption of oxygen. Therefore, the body burns fat with exercise (13). Suitable exercises for upper body fat include cardio workouts as well as strength training programs which help build and tone muscles in the upper trunk.

Here are some back fat exercises you should focus on to tone the upper back muscles and lose upper back fat:

1. Reverse Fly

Reverse Fly

Muscles include your posterior deltoids, rhomboids, trapezius, and latissimus dorsi muscles. Reverse fly is considered to be the best exercise for back fat as it burns the most fat on upper back.

How to perform this exercise:

1. Bend forward; your arms should hang down with weights in your hands.

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2. Bring the weights upwards in such a way that your elbows come in level with your shoulders

3. Go back to the initial position gradually.

Sets and number of repetitions:

                                               3 sets * 10reps

 

2. Superman Fly

Superman Fly

Muscles include the posterior deltoid, erector spinae, hamstring, and glutes

How to perform this exercise:

1. Lay on the floor in the prone position with your arm extended above your head

2. Lift your legs and arms off the ground –looking like a flying superman

3. Hold for a few seconds

4. Slowly bring your arms and legs to starting position

Sets and number of repetitions:

                                               3 sets * 12reps

 

3.  Bent Over Rows

Bent Over Rows

Muscles involved are the latissimus dorsi, the middle and lower trapezius, the rhomboids, and the posterior deltoids.

How to perform this exercise:

1. Lean forward till your torso is parallel to the floor

2. Pull the bar toward your belly till it touches your body

3. Lower the bar to starting position

4. Repeat

Sets and number of repetitions:

                                               3 sets * 10reps

 

4. Resistance Band Pull Down

Resistance Band Pull Down

Muscles include your posterior deltoids, trapezius, rhomboids, and bicep brachii

How to perform this exercise:

1. Hold the center of the band with your hands

2. Pull the band towards your chest, bending your elbow

3. Control and bring it back to its initial position

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Sets and number of repetitions:

                                               3 sets * 12reps

 

5. Lateral Raises

Lateral Raises

Muscles involved are lateral deltoids, front deltoids, and upper trapezius.

How to perform this exercise:

1. Stand with a dumbbell in each hand. Raise your arms in such a manner that they face parallel to the ground

2. Bring the arm back to the initial position

3. Repeat

Sets and number of repetitions:

                                               3 sets * 10reps

 

6. Back Extension

Back Extension

Muscles involved in this exercise are the erector spinae muscle, quadratus lumborum, and posterior chain muscle group.

How to perform this exercise:

1. Lie down prone with your arms out to the sides and your hands near your temples.

2. Squeeze your scapular blades and raise your shoulders and chest from the ground. Also, try to lift your head while bending forward.

3. Return to the initial position.

Sets and number of repetitions:

                                                3 sets * 12reps

 

7. Arm And Leg Raise

Arm And Leg Raise

Targets and strengthens core muscles, shoulder muscles and the spine. 

How to perform this exercise:

1. Get down on a mat on all four with palms under your shoulders and knees under your hips. 

2.  Extend one arm forward and the opposite leg backward. 

3. Keep your core tight and your body balanced.

4. Return to starting position and repeat with the opposite leg and arm.

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Sets and number of repetitions:

                                           

                                                    3 sets * 15reps

 

Performing these exercises regularly can help shed fat from the upper trunk gradually and make the muscles in that part of the body stronger. Now let’s check out how to lose back fat with positive dietary changes. 

Healthy Diet to Get Rid of Back Fat

Healthy Diet to Get Rid of Back Fat

Diet plays a major role in the cause of upper back fat. A diet with excess sodium causes water retention, making your back fat and bloating more prominent. Therefore eating a diet that’s low in sodium can help you shed excess water weight that your body might be stored in your back area.

The best way to lose back fat through diet is to ensure that you are eating in a calorie deficit. This simply means that you are consuming fewer calories in a day than you are burning. A deficit of 500 calories per day is sufficient for weight loss (14). Following are some common dietary options you can opt for that may help reduce weight:

  •  Low-calorie diet: Adhering to a low-calorie diet is a key requirement for weight loss.
  • Ketogenic diet: This diet consists of an extreme reduction in the content of carbohydrates. It increases the efficiency of fat burning in the body and also decreases hunger.
  • High protein diet: A high protein diet can help decrease fat mass. It has always been a promising tool for weight loss. According to protein intake guidelines for adults, it is recommended that 46–56 g or 0.8 g/kg of body weight should be consumed per day. If dietary protein consumption exceeds 0.8 g/kg/day, it is considered a high-protein diet (15).
  • Low-sodium diet: A low-sodium diet can help with weight loss as it reduces bloating. A low-sodium diet also lowers blood pressure which in turn reduces the risk of stroke, coronary heart attack, and cardiovascular diseases (16).
  • Fiber-rich diet: Fiber-rich foods are often low in calories but give a feeling of fullness and it also feeds friendly gut bacteria. Some fiber-rich foods are wheat bran, black beans, raspberries, carrots, spinach, and barley.
  • Increased water intake: Occasionally when you suppose you’re hungry, you’re just thirsty.  Grown-ups lose about 2.5 to 3 liters of water per day, which is about how much you need to gulp down to stay healthy. Stay hydrated, it gives the feeling of fullness and prevents overeating.

 Conclusion

You can lose upper back fat with a proper diet and carefully curated exercises that target the back muscles and help tone them. The human body can do wonders in terms of weight loss if along with regular workouts, low-calorie foods are added to the diet and high-calorie foods are cut down (17).

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Sources:

1)     Regional fat changes induced by localized muscle endurance resistance training

https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/23222084/

2)     Effect of Exercise Training on Fat Loss—Energetic Perspectives and the Role of Improved Adipose Tissue Function and Body Fat Distribution

Effect of Exercise Training on Fat Loss—Energetic Perspectives and the Role of Improved Adipose Tissue Function and Body Fat Distribution - PMC (nih.gov)

3)     Role of Body Fat Distribution and the Metabolic Complications of Obesity

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2585758/

4)     Our genes affect where fat is stored in our bodies

https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2019/01/190121103400.htm.

5)     Genetic contributors to obesity

Genetic contributors to obesity - PMC (nih.gov)

6)     The Impact of Meal Timing on Risk of Weight Gain and Development of Obesity: a Review of the Current Evidence and Opportunities for Dietary Intervention

The Impact of Meal Timing on Risk of Weight Gain and Development of Obesity: a Review of the Current Evidence and Opportunities for Dietary Intervention - PMC (nih.gov)

7)  Interscapular fat is associated with impaired glucose tolerance and insulin resistance independent of visceral fat mass

https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/36192827/

8) Insulin and Insulin Resistance

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1204764/ 

9) The Role of Exercise and Physical Activity in Weight Loss and Maintenance

The Role of Exercise and Physical Activity in Weight Loss and Maintenance - PMC (nih.gov)

10) Effect of Physical Activity on Insulin Resistance, Inflammation, and Oxidative Stress in Diabetes Mellitus

Effect of Physical Activity on Insulin Resistance, Inflammation and Oxidative Stress in Diabetes Mellitus - PMC (nih.gov)

11)      Physical Activity, Weight Loss, and Weight Maintenance in the Diogenes Multicenter Trial

Frontiers | Physical Activity, Weight Loss, and Weight Maintenance in the Diogenes Multicenter Trial (frontiersin.org)

12)  Successful weight loss maintenance: A systematic review of weight control registries

Successful weight loss maintenance: A systematic review of weight control registries - PMC (nih.gov)

13)  Scientific Challenges on Theory of Fat Burning by Exercise

Scientific Challenges on Theory of Fat Burning by Exercise - PMC (nih.gov)

14)Defining the Optimal Dietary Approach for Safe, Effective and Sustainable Weight Loss in Overweight and Obese Adults

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6163457/ 

15)  Optimal Diet Strategies for Weight Loss and Weight Loss Maintenance

Optimal Diet Strategies for Weight Loss and Weight Loss Maintenance - PMC (nih.gov)

16)  Salt reduction

https://www.who.int/news-room/fact-sheets/detail/salt-reduction#:~:text=Salt%20intake%20of%20less%20than,reduction%20in%20high%20blood%20pressure

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17)  The physiological process of fat loss

The physiological process of fat loss | Bulletin of the National Research Centre | Full Text (springeropen.com)

ALSO READ: 9 Easy Diet plans for weight loss and overall health boost

FAQs

What exercise burns the most upper back fat?
Reverse fly, the reverse fly is a resistance exercise that works on the major muscle of the upper back. It targets the posterior deltoid and major upper back muscles. Targeting these muscles can not only burn fat but also help improve posture and balance.

Can I lose back fat in 7 days?
By using resistance training exercises you can tone your back because these exercises strengthen your back muscles, thus changing their appearance to look lean.

How long does it take to lose upper back fat?
Losing weight is not an immediate process. Losing fat from any part of the body takes time. If you follow a diet and workout regularly you can notice a clear difference in 1 to 2 months.

Can I lose my upper body fat without exercise?
You may, by following a healthy diet and making positive lifestyle changes. Add more fiber to your diet, cut down sodium intake as much as possible, and create a calorie-deficit meal plan. Also, get good sleep.

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About The Author
Sanchari Bhattacharya
Sanchari Bhattacharya
Health & Fitness Expert

Sanchari, a certified Health & Nutrition Life Coach

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