Ask a Trainer: What’s the Secret to Getting Rid of Back Fat?

Nike master trainer Holly Rilinger talks about what works—and what doesn’t—when it comes to losing back fat.

Loading the player...

If it seems like no matter what you do you just can’t get rid of that excess back flab, join the club. Genetics play a big role in where you store fat, so for many people, back fat is a major problem area—and it is S-T-U-B-B-O-R-N.

We’re not going to sugarcoat it: Getting rid of back fat isn’t easy. There’s no one secret move you can do to burn away your back fat. “Unfortunately you can’t spot reduce, that means you can’t lose fat in just one area of your body,” says Nike master trainer Holly Rilinger.

To trim the fat on your back, Rilinger recommends slimming down by to losing fat all over and building lean back muscles with specific, targeted exercises.

To lose weight, it’s important to take a good, hard look at your diet, and be sure you’re integrating exercises that promote fat loss into your lifestyle. Not sure how to start? Check out these tips from people who lost weight and kept it off

As for the back exercises, Rilinger has three that will get you well on your way to a sleek back side: dumbbell bent-over rows, one-arm rows, and renegade rows. Here’s how to do them:

Dumbbell Bent-Over Rows

  • Grab a dumbbell in each hand.
  • Bend over at the waist, engaging your core and lower back.
  • Drive your elbows up, so they’re by your sides and bent at roughly a 90-degree angle.
  • Repeat.

One-Arm Rows

  • Start bent at the waist, with one hand on your knee or on a stable surface (like a bench or chair).
  • With a dumbbell in the opposite hand, drive your elbow up beside your body, also bent at roughly a 90-degree angle.
  • Do reps for one arm first, then switch.

Renegade Rows

  • Get in a high plank position, with a dumbbell in each hand and forefeet on the floor.  
  • With dumbbells in hand while maintaining a plank position, row your right arm up by driving your elbow up your side, then place the dumbbell back on the ground (still grasping it with the hand).
  • Do the same with the left side and alternate.

“So instead of thinking of this as losing back fat, let’s look at this as an overall program where we’re building muscle, and we’re losing fat through diet, weight training, and cardio,” says Rilinger.