This article was previously published on October 3, 2016.
We all know how stubborn back fat can be, especially that bra fat area for us women! That bulge that comes out underneath the back of our armpits right above the bra line can seem impossible to get rid of. Back fat comes from both underdeveloped muscles and too much overall body fat. Unless you’re used to doing regular activities like boxing or rowing, you’re going to need to add exercises targeting that area to get rid of back fat. Just as in any other body part, we also have to lose fat overall to see results. We cannot control fat loss in one specific area, so healthy intake and cardio are very important along with strengthening those muscles. These 5 exercises will help chip away at that annoying back fat by specifically toning the back, shoulders, and powerhouse.
T’s– Stand with your feet hip-distance apart, and squat just low enough to get your upper body at a 45-degree angle. Keep your spine elongated by pulling your abs in and pointing your tailbone towards the ground. You may hold light hand weights if you have them, otherwise, keep your hands open like blades. Let your arms hang naturally in front of you. Retract your shoulder blades and then lift your arms straight out to the sides using your back muscles. Make sure your arms are not higher than your shoulders as you lift them. Slowly release the contraction in the shoulder blades as the arms come back down. Think of cracking a walnut between your shoulder blades each time the arms come up to the “T” position. Repeat 10-15 times.
Single Leg Kick– Lie on your stomach with your upper body propped up onto your forearms. Hold your hands in fists and press them down into the ground as you lift your elbows an inch off the ground. Pull the shoulder blades down your back with your lats so that you are lifted off the ground. Joseph Pilates would say to imagine you are “a sphinx made out of stone.” Pull the navel in to protect the lower back and kick each heel towards your butt two times. Squeeze your glutes to keep your hips from popping off the ground. Repeat this 10 times. The key is to keep the upper body as still and strong and possible while moving the lower body. You will be building lat definition and strength in the upper back by holding this pose.
Side Plank– Lie on one side of your body, and prop yourself up onto your forearm. Your supporting shoulder should be directly over your elbow to keep proper alignment. Your top arm can be long by your side or on the floor in front of you for more support. Separate your legs so that your top leg is in front of your bottom leg on the floor. For a more advanced version, stack the top leg directly over the bottom with your feet flexed. Lift your body up using your oblique and back muscles on the side that is closer to the ground. Press into the forearm so that you do not sink into the supporting shoulder blade. Once you are up, hold the side plank for 20 seconds. For an extra challenge, add on 10 little lifts from there.
Seated Arm Circles– This one is really challenging for the back muscles as you have to hold a very upright posture in a position that the back wants to round in. Sit on the floor with your knees bent. Hug your knees to help pull your chest as close to your thighs as possible. Lift your back up tall as you pull your shoulder blades back and down. Your back should be as flat as possible and your chest lifted. The closer your feet are to your bottom, the more challenging this exercise will be. Once you are in a flat back position, do your best to straighten your arms in front of you without lifting the shoulders or changing your posture. Your back muscles will be working to keep your back as flat as possible. Bring your arms out to a “T” without changing your posture and do five arm circles in each direction. Do not let your knees come apart while circling the arms. Rest and repeat for 2-3 more sets.
Leg Pull– Go into a push-up position with your shoulders directly over your wrists. Keep your core strong by pulling in the abdominals and keeping the lats pulled down your back. Squeeze your glutes and inner thighs as you rock the entire body back and forth on the balls of your feet as if you were flexing and pointing the feet. The only body parts that are actually in motion are your feet and your shoulder joints. It takes strength and control in your entire powerhouse to maintain your plank position while rocking back and forth. Repeat each back and forth motion 10-15 times, working your way up to 20.
Keep to a healthy diet and regular cardio while adding these exercises into your workout routine and watch the back fat melt away!
More Pilates Videos: 4 Moves to Strengthen Your Pelvic Floor
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Video: Crystal Chin