Reducing upper body fat is best tackled with a combination of training styles. Incorporating several different types of workouts each week will help reduce the fat from your belly, arms and back, without putting undue stress on your body. Remember, however, that exercise isn't the only part of the puzzle: eat sensibly and drink plenty of water to speed up the rate of fat loss.
Sprint Like You Mean It
Sprinting is a highly effective way to lose body fat, particularly from around your belly. Sprinting burns a significant amount of energy in a relatively short period of time, and also improves lean muscle definition. This will help flatten your stomach and tone your arms. A popular form of sprinting is the Tabata sprint, in which you do 20 seconds of all-out work, followed by 10 seconds of rest, and repeat this eight times. Sprinting is very taxing on the body, so do this twice per week, with at least two days between sessions.
Interval training is another very effective method for reducing upper body fat. The International Journal of Obesity found that three interval sessions per week was enough to significantly reduce trunk fat in women. A prime example of interval training is the high-intensity bodyweight circuit, in which you work very hard for an entire circuit, then rest a couple of minutes, then repeat. Choose five to seven exercises and perform them in a non-stop circuit, resting for two to three minutes once you have completed a full round of the exercises. Exercises you might choose from include push-ups, pull-ups, tricep dips, crunches, Russian twists, hand walkouts, mountain climbers, burpees, star jumps, bear crawls, planks and lying leg raises.
Long Live The Resistance
Resistance training, or strength training, is another effective way to reduce your upper-body fat. There's no need to fear becoming "bulky" from lifting weights -- most women don't have the hormonal or skeletal profile for it. You will, however, see a significant reduction in body fat, and an improvement in lean muscle definition by doing two upper-body weight sessions per week. Choose five to seven exercises to rotate through, doing three sets total. Choose weights that will allow you to complete at least eight repetitions, but not more than 12, and take a minute or two of rest between each set to recover. Exercises to choose from include the bench bress, bent over row, overhead press, overhead tricep press, bicep curls, tricep kickbacks, lateral raises, forward raises, dumbbell flies and dumbbell shrugs. Including two lower body workouts per week will also speed up your rate of fat loss -- include exercises such as squats, deadlifts, lunges, leg press, calf raise and hyperextensions.
Walk It Out
Walking is an underrated but important type of exercise for losing weight. Fat is often stored in the abdominal area in response to stress. Walking, particularly in peaceful and beautiful environments (like parks, forests and beaches) is very effective for reducing stress hormones in the body, relaxing the mind and central nervous system, and improving your body's ability to filter out the toxins and hormones that are causing you to hold belly fat. Walking for 30 to 60 minutes, two to three times per week will help you reduce your upper body fat.
- Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise: Effect of Moderate-Intensity Endurance and High-Intensity Intermittent Training On Anaerobic Capacity and VO2Max.
- International Journal of Obesity: The Effects of High-Intensity Intermittent Exercise Training on Fat Loss and Resting Insulin Levels of Young Women
- Better Health Victoria: Resistance Training - Health Benefits