The hardest reality about losing weight is that you can’t just circle a specific spot on your body and melt away the fat. It takes smart full-body training to really burn fat, and only after that will you see the results all over.
But, what you can do right now is focus your strengthening and toning exercises on the back muscles, to isolate the trouble spots and really define those back muscles—which, when combined with cardio (running, elliptical, whatever form you like best and will actually stick with), will give you the results you want.
Here are the 8 best exercises that effectively target and tone your back muscles. Pick 4 of the exercises below, with one of them being the cardio based exercise (moves 6,7 or 8 below). Alright, let’s get to it.
1. Negative Pull-Ups
Stand on something to hoist yourself up into the end pull-up position against the bar. Slowly lower your body down in a controlled movement. Do 15 reps.
2. Dumbbell Row
Place one knee on a bench, couch or table with a light (3-5 pounds) weight in the opposite hand, slightly bending forward with back flat. Pull the arm back straight in a row motion, contracting your upper back, elbow skimming the side of the body as it moves. Do a full set of 12 and then switch arms.
3. Renegade Row
Get into a plank position, arms out straight directly beneath your shoulders, squeezing your butt and pulling your abs tight into your spine. Hold a 3-5-pound weight in each hand. Starting with one arm at a time, pull the weight back into a row movement, engaging the upper back and delts. Do 15 reps for each arm.
4. TYI Exercises
Lie on your stomach on the floor, or balance on a physio ball, holding 3-pound dumbbells in each hand. Engage your back and lift the chest a little. Then, move arms up and out into a T position, release, move into a Y position, release, and then move them into an I, arms touching out straight above your head. This is a great one for the rear delt, which is an important posture muscle. Most people are very weak here, so use a super-light weight for this one. Do up to 20 reps.
This basic move primarily works your chest, but it can actually be a great back exercise, too. Get into a standard push-up position with hands on the ground wider than shoulder-width apart. When you lower into the contracted position, you’re actually engaging your back. So lower yourself slowly and really focus on that downward movement. Hold at the bottom for 3 seconds and push back up, contracting the chest. Do 10 reps.
6. Jumping Rope
It might feel like you’re just working your shoulders, but they’re connected to your back, so it’s hitting that as well. Plus, it’s a great cardio workout that’ll burn fat all over. Jump for 1-minute at a time.
7. Upper Body Bike
You know that upper body bike at the gym that’s empty all the time? It’s the most unused piece of equipment and it’s amazing for your triceps and your back. Try 5 minutes on that and you’ll barely make it through. Try biking backward on it for an even stronger back burn.
8. Rowing Machine
There’s a reason rowing is so popular these days: It’s truly an amazing back workout. Which makes sense because it has that basic row movement that perfectly targets your back. Try 5 minute row intervals, in proper form, for 3 rounds with minimal rest in-between.