The little roll that spills over the back of your waistband sabotages your svelte look. Everyone gains and stores fat differently; men often hold weight in their bellies and women in their hips and thighs. These stubborn spots are annoying and frustrating, but with a comprehensive weight-loss plan, you may just be able to shrink lower back fat.
Lower back fat, underarm jiggles and a pot belly are three of the biggest complaints of those who are not naturally svelte. How to reduce the amount of fat in your lower back depends on your commitment to exercise and eating healthily every single day. It doesn't have to be a drag. It can be fun and well worth your time.
Spot Training Is a Myth
Exercise is part of the strategy to eliminate lower back fat, but it's not the only strategy. All the side bends, torso rotations and bird dogs in the world can't whittle away your lumbar load. Spot training just isn't possible — fat loss doesn't work like that.
Instead, lower back exercises should include total-body strength-training, along with regular cardio, is your best bet. Strength-training builds more lean mass on your frame, increasing your overall calorie burn. Cardio burns calories, helping you to create the caloric deficit necessary for fat loss. Pair your exercise routine with a healthy, whole foods diet to lose the pounds and slim your whole physique.
Losing Lower Back Fat
Fat loss happens when you create a deficit between the number of calories you consume through food and drink and the number of calories you burn through activity. Move more, so you burn more calories, and eat less so you'll lose fat. A 3,500-calorie deficit yields 1 pound of fat loss.
From where that fat falls, however, is not up to you. Your genetics and gender often play a roll. You might notice your legs slim down quick, but your lower back fat roll persists. It's the luck of the draw.
Keep with exercise and diet, however, and you will eventually lose your lower back fat. Be patient — it might be the last place to drop.
Read more: Lower Back and Hip-Strengthening Exercises
Exercise to Expedite Fat Loss
Speed up your fat loss by burning more calories through exercise. Specific exercises for your low back, such as supermans, bird dogs and core rotations, keep your back healthy and stable, so you can exercise at an intense level, but they don't dissolve fat there. Instead, exercise your whole body to lose lower back fat.
Step 1: Start Strength Training
Strength training all your major muscles is a must to lose pounds and firm up flabby areas, such as your lower back. Two or three sessions per week that address your back, as well as your chest, arms, thighs, hips, abs and shoulders, builds muscle tissue, which is more metabolically active than fat tissue, so you burn more calories all day long.
A sample routine to perform at each workout consists of eight to 12 repetitions of each of the following exercises for one to three sets: Lat pulldowns, pushups, shoulder presses, squats, lunges, leg curls, biceps curls, triceps dips, side planks and crunches.
Step 2: Move It to Lose It
Cardio workouts burn calories. This means swimming in the pool, hiking on the trail, jogging around the park, biking around the neighborhood, kicking and punching in martial arts, chasing balls on the soccer field or dancing with your Zumba buddies. About 30 minutes every day keeps you healthy, but you may need to do more like 60 to 90 minutes on most days to spur fat loss, according to the Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans.
Step 3: Do Intervals at Some Workouts
Make two or three of those cardio workouts involve high-intensity interval training to make fat loss happen faster. Alternate short periods (60 to 90 seconds) of all out effort with equal time at a more manageable pace. This type of workout done for 20 minutes, just three times per week for 12 weeks led to greater reductions in trunk fat — that includes your low back — and overall body fat when compared to a non-exercising group, showed a study published in a 2012 issue of the Journal of Obesity. Bonus: HIIT keeps you entertained and doesn't take a ton of time.
Read more: The "Burn Fat Faster" Workout
A Word on Diet
All this exercise isn't going to get at your lower back fat if you fail to follow a quality diet. Eat mostly lean proteins, such as chicken breast, tofu and fish, along with plenty of greens, whole grains and healthy fats. Skip the excessive amounts of sugar, white bread and pasta, soda and saturated fats found in fried foods and fatty-cuts of beef and pork.
- ExRx.net: Spot Reduction Myth
- ACE Fitness: Back Exercises
- Harvard Health Publishing: 7 Tips for A Safe and Successful Strength-Training Program
- Health.gov: Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans, 2nd Edition: Chapter 4. Active Adults
- NCBI: Journal of Obesity: The Effect of High-Intensity Intermittent Exercise on Body Composition of Overweight Young Males