The Fundamentals

Back fat, love handles or flab – no matter what you call it, there isn’t a glamorous way to describe this accumulation of fat.

For the guide to fighting back fat, we sat together with biochemists, sports scientists and fitness trainers to put together everything you need to know to effectively fight your back fat. In this ultimate guide, we’ll show you:

  1. Why it is so important to train your back, even if you don’t suffer from back fat
  2. The 5 best methods in fighting back fat, including exercises, nutrition tips and the right use of technology
  3. How to motivate yourself to get your journey started

Plus: At the end of this post you will get a free poster with the best exercises for your back for download.

However: We’re going to disappoint you. Big time. Right now. But we want to be honest and fair with you:

It is impossible to spot-reduce fat.

Meaning: You can not just target the loss of back fat without  the rest of your body changing. There´s not the one exercise or magic pill that will help you to get rid of your love handles immediately.

But: If you follow a few rules and our exercise suggestions you can be sure to follow the most efficient route to a strong and lean back. You will also be working a lot on your core if you follow this regimen. So you can also expect to meet your abs again.

And: If you’re serious about firming up your back and follow the steps described in this guide: Your body will get more toned. Everywhere

You may have asked yourself: “Why do I have back fat?” Research indicates that this time it’s not genetics to be blamed. Back fat is solely an indicator of a suboptimal diet and insufficient exercise which have led to a lack of muscle mass, and it’s not rare! Most people believe that getting rid of back fat, especially when it’s presenting itself in the form of love handles, is just a matter of situps…a lot of situps, but that is not the case. Love Handles on top of the obliques can only be targeted with really specific exercises – Situps don’t really help in this case.

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1. No back fat? Why you still should focus on your back

A targeted back workout increases your back´s and core muscles’ strength, which has numerous positive effects on posture, daily activities, sports and also can help to reduce back pain.

According to medical doctors at Harvard, good posture is essential for a good balance. Good balance is not only required in many sports, but also daily life, such as rising from a chair or walking up and down stairs. Further, it lessens the stress on your spine and allows you to breathe deeply. Last but not least, a good posture projects confidence.

There are numerous daily life activities in which we are using our back and core muscles: Be it work related, such as lifting and twisting or sitting or everyday acts, such as bending to put on shoes.

Most sports require a strong core: Starting from golfing, tennis or swimming – many athletic activities are powered by strong core muscles. They help to transfer forces produced by the extremities in order to use the generated energy to execute your movements efficiently.

A strong core is both the most effective preventive and therapeutic intervention against back and shoulder pain. People who have weak back muscles are more likely to suffer from strain or tension build-up in their lower or upper back, which could lead to severe pain that completely prevents you from exercising.

5 Übungen Rücken trainieren

2. Five Measures and Hacks to Fight Back Fat

No 1: Targeted Exercises

Our sports scientists have done their research, and identified as well as tested the eight most effective exercises to fight back fat. Note: You don’t need a single piece of equipment to do them.

Here is a list of the exercises you should be performing two to three times a week:


Strengthens the gluteal muscles, the posterior thighs and especially the lower back muscles.

Starting position: Lay flat on the back, bend your legs, both feet have firm contact with the ground and the arms are stretched out beside your body, with palms facing upwards. Raise the pelvis so that torso and the upper leg form a line. The shoulders stay in contact with the ground. Hold the position for 60 seconds.

Challenge: You can increase the level of difficulty by straightening one leg. Make sure that both thighs are parallel to each other and that your foot is flexed, toes pointing back towards you. Change sides after 30 seconds.

2. PLANK: 

Physicians at Harvard Medical school believe this exercise to be the quickest way to get strong abs. It´s not only super-effective on the abdominal muscles but the whole core, which makes it so effective in fighting back fat.

Starting Position: Begin by lying on your stomach and holding your chest off the ground with your lower arms. Elbows should be shoulder width apart, with the lower arms on the ground parallel to each other. Lift your stomach off the ground until only your toes and lower arms are holding you up. Important: Lift your stomach and hip in a line with your shoulders and legs. Make sure that your entire core muscles, as well as legs and buttocks, are actively tensed.

Challenge: You can make this exercise more difficult if you lift one leg off the ground and hold the position for 30 seconds. Change the side afterward.


One mistake people often make when fighting their back fat? They forget about the abdominal muscles, which are essential for a strong back.

Starting Position: Lie on your back and bend your knees, so that your soles are on the floor. Place your hands on your temples, with elbows pointing outwards.

Lift your upper body up from this position, keeping your legs and feet still. Your head should be in a line with your spine. Hold the position for a moment and then slowly lower your upper body, stopping a few centimeters above the ground. Repeat this motion.


Lie flat on your stomach. Extend your arms in front of you. Slowly raise your arms and legs. Hold this position for a few seconds and try to keep your arms and legs stretched as far as possible. Then lower your arms and legs. Repeat the exercise several times. This trains your lower back, upper thighs, and buttocks.


For the FLYING ANTELOPE, you have to begin by standing with your feet together. Then lift one leg off the ground, extending it behind you and keeping your leg and back in a straight line. Extend your arms parallel to the ground on both sides. If you wish to get a little more intense, bend your upper body forward and stretch your leg upwards, until your leg and back are parallel to the floor. Change the side after approximately 30 seconds.

Note: Your standing leg and stomach should be slightly flexed, with your pelvic bones parallel to the floor.


The SIDE PLANK begins with the left or right body side lying on the floor – the outer edge of one foot, leg, hip, and forearm should all be touching the ground. The lower arm should point away from your body. The other arm should be extended upwards. From this position, you reach up, lifting the hip and moving your body into a line. Change the side after 30 seconds.

Challenge: You can increase the difficulty by lifting one leg into the air and holding it for about 20 seconds. Then change sides.


Lie on your back and lift your legs so that the thighs form a 90-degree angle to your upper body. Now move your head and shoulder toward your left knee, lifting your back off the ground. Try to touch your left knee with your right elbow, with your other leg stretched forward without touching the ground. Then move your chest and shoulder back into the starting position and bring your legs back into a 90-degree angle to the upper body. Now do the movement with the other side. Try to touch your right knee with your left elbow. Move the other leg forward again.


Get down on your hands and knees. Arms and thighs vertical to the ground. Straighten your back and extend your head forward, face down. Tense your stomach, then stretch your arm forward and your opposite leg backward. Arm, upper body, and leg should form a line parallel to the ground. After 15 repetitions, do the same movement on the other side.


No 2: Sitting is the new smoking

Researchers have found that sitting more than six hours a day increases the risk of an early death. Author Tom Rath claims that “Sitting is the most underrated health threat of modern time”. However, physical exercise and simple walking can neutralize the negative effects of sitting.

Some simple tricks to get you out of the chair:

  1. Walk around when you’re on the phone
  2. Go for a walk during lunch break
  3. Walk to work – e. g. by leaving the train a station earlier 
  4. Instead of emailing or calling a coworker – move over to their desk and talk to them in person
  5. Always choose the stairs vs. elevator

As a general rule of thumb: Try to get on your feet every 30 minutes.


Nr 3: HIIT

In addition to the target exercised and getting out of a chair as often as possible – we recommend 2-3 dedicated cardio workout sessions per week and 2 High-Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) units with your own bodyweight. HIIT is an extremely effective method for transforming your body. It is a combination of intense, but short periods of work with short recovery time slots in between. Recent research suggests that HIIT is at least as effective as a continuous workout however, more efficient as it can be performed in a shorter time – usually 20 – 30 minutes. One reason why HIIT is so popular is the so-called after-burn effect or – in other words – the excess post-exercise oxygen consumption (EPOC). The effect is due to the oxygen debt you muscles accumulate during a HIIT workout. This debt can only be repaid after the workout to get back to a normal level of oxygen. This results in calories being burned even after the workout ended.



No 4: Use Electrical Muscle Stimulation to Boost your Workout´s Effectiveness

For many years training with Electrical Muscle Stimulation (EMS) was reserved for the world’s top athletes. However, with more and more topical and mobile EMS devices coming on the market, it´s increasingly accessible to those who want to profit from an efficient workout. As the name itself suggests, this technology uses electrical currents to stimulate the body´s muscles. By doing so, it provides a short-cut to muscle activation. The natural process of muscle activation is initiated by our brain sending an electrical impulse to any given muscle to spark a contraction. The power source of an EMS machine is initiating this impulse instead of the brain – even stronger than the brain itself.

Some researchers believe, that this is one reason EMS is particularly beneficial: It offers a clean contraction. As it does not interfere with the natural signal paths occurring in an athlete’s body, it´s a “clean” impulse. It´s bypassing the noise and stress present through the body’s  own processes as explains Derek M. Hansen..


What are the top 5 benefits of EMS applied in sport and fitness?

1. Activation of deep muscles

Your deep core muscles are essential in supporting, controlling and moving your lower spine and pelvis. That is what makes them an important companion in almost every sport, but also many other activities, including sitting at your desk for long hours. Neglecting these deep muscles can lead to back pain or a weak pelvic floor. However, training these muscles is really difficult, as it is impossible to activate them voluntarily. Previously it was necessary to perform exercises stemming from Yoga or Pilates to target these muscles. However, EMS is a great tool to activate these deep muscles easily and effectively.

2. Joint-sparing

EMS is a very joint-friendly method of working out. Traditional workouts often include weights and dumbbells that are of additional stress for the joints. EMS in itself is so effective that there is no need for additional weights.

3. Regeneration

EMS is known to enhance regeneration between workouts. Using specific regeneration programs that are powered with EMS allow shortening the regeneration period between workouts. EMS for regeneration is as effective as a slow jog or a manual sports massage (supported by research).

4. Combination of cardio and EMS

The newest generation of EMS devices are small and mobile. This allows their integration into a variety of sports. For example, using EMS on your upper body during a run is a strength workout for your core muscles in addition to the endurance of your run.

5. Efficiency

All these benefits combined lead to what most people believe to be the most important benefit of EMS: Efficiency.

EMS allows you to:

  • either make more out of the time you have or
  • use the time you have to achieve more.

What do we mean by that? The efficiency of EMS, can help you reduce the time you spend working out – however, allows you to achieve the same outcome! Or: if you continue investing the same amount of time in your workout you can get greater results.

Let´s go back to our example above where we were talking about integrating EMS in a run: Even not so ambitious runners know that it is important to train the core muscles. Without EMS that means that in addition to regular runs, the workout routine should include around two exercise sessions dedicated to strengthening the core muscles, which is an additional time investment of 1-1.5 hours. Integrating the core training into the run saves this time or frees it up for additional exercises.


If you want to integrate EMS into your fight against back fat, it’s important to remember these things:

  1. Define your goals and come up with a plan


  2. Come up with a plan on how and when to use the technology


  3. Use stimulation protocols that were designed for your specific goals


  4. Integrate diversity into your training

There are a few contraindications to working out with EMS. The most important ones are:

  • Pregnancy
  • Implanted defibrillator or pacemaker
  • Open wounds at the areas which get in contact with the electrodes or skin diseases
  • All diseases or conditions for which a doctor would declare you unfit to perform sport, e. g. a flue or recent surgical intervention, active thrombophlebitis and thrombosis
  • Since using EMS for your workout makes it very intense, you should always feel completely recovered from the last workout to start a new one. This prevents overtraining and counts for all different kinds of highly intensive training.

We recommend anybody, who´s suffering from chronic or acute conditions or is unsure about the effects on his personal health, to consult a doctor. Also, always make sure that you read and follow the instructions provided by the device manufacturer.


No. 5 Nutrition

As mentioned above, back fat often is a result of bad dieting habits. Here is a list of the most effective nutritional strategies to get rid of back fat:

1. Don’t use sugar or even artificial sweeteners

Most of you have probably heard about the downside of using sugar. Recent research shows that even though artificial sweeteners have zero calories they can still lead to weight increase, as theyincrease cravings and stimulate appetite. If you can’t live without the sweet, try Stevia, which is a natural more healthy alternative.

2. Choose a strategy

It´s never been easier to lose weight and stick to a healthy nutrition. There are several weight loss programs and clean eating guides out there, some of which use the latest technology and scientific data, relying on principles and knowledge that have been around for decades. There is also one that is suitable for you, BUT you just have to find it. These 6 questions will help you in your quest to startYOUR nutritional strategy:

  1. How much time am I willing to invest in cooking?
  2. How much money am I willing to spend?
  3. Would I prefer being on my own in this quest or do I want a friend/family member supporting me? Or do I even want a whole group of people I don’t know to follow my journey?
  4. What´s my preferred medium, e. g. do I want to record all my calories in an app or do I rather use pen and paper?
  5. Are there any ingredients I don’t want to include in my diet (e. g. meat, lactose, etc.)
  6. Do I have specific eating habits that I want to keep or discontinue?


Answering these questions will help you to understand your personal needs and requirements regarding a diet. Here is an example of how our colleague Mynia applied this stratey and identified the 16:8 as her diet:

You may wonder, what made me decide to follow this strategy? Looking at above’s list, I realized thatIch keine zusätzliche Zeit mit Kochen verbringen will

  1. I don’t want to spend extra time on cooking
  2. Don’t want to spend extra money
  3. Don´t have any preferences when it comes to others (not) following my journey but that I
  4. Prefer writing it all in a dedicated notebook
  5. Am indifferent to ingredients (as long as I can continue drinking coffee)
  6. I`m not really into breakfast and also don´t have any difficulties not to eat for longer periods.

So I decided that intermittent fasting will most likely be a good match for me. I added the low-carb and high-protein part to it to make sure to follow a regimen that’s beneficial for muscle mass.


3. Cook in bulks

Cook your meals in advance. That will help you to be prepared for temptations. You can e.g. cook once a week on a Sunday night and freeze parts of what you’ve cooked for the week. This will bring you through a whole week of healthy, home-made delicious meals.

4. Don´t store food

Just buy as much as you consume in one day (exception: bulk cooking and frozen meals). With no excess storage at home, it´s harder for temptations to get control over you.

5. Drink

While researchers are discordant on the benefit of beverages, such as tea or coffee, they all agree on one thing: Make drinking water a priority! Drink between 2.5l and 3l of water a day to stay hydrated. There are numerous benefits of drinking water, such as an increased athletic performance. It’s also beneficial for weight loss, as it can serve as an appetite suppressant.

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3. Motivation


We’re all motivated intrinsically, but not everyone is so enthused at the thought of getting up at 5 a. m in the morning to work out. So, in case you have a bad day once in awhile, you may want to look at these tips below to make sure you stay motivated:

The Reason Why

Explain to yourself why you’ve decided to fight back fat. This “helps us remember that this is a step along a longer path and that by choosing to take that journey, we are getting closer to more meaningful objectives” claims New York Times bestselling author Charles Duhigg. For example, you can set reminders in your phone that not only remind you what you have to do but why.

Write it Down – SMART

Working out can always be made easier through suitable planning . Although, different planning suits different people,  some people prefer using an app, some just ordinary paper – the medium doesn’t really matter, the most important is the planning itself.

We recommend to schedule all of your workouts at the beginning of each month and cross them off as they are completed. This would be approximately 16 workouts per month. Rod Dishman, Ph.D, an exercise scientist at the University of Georgia says, “You’re about 40 percent more likely to work out if you have strategies to help you overcome these obstacles”.

One method to set your goals is using the SMART goals approach.

S – Ensure your goals are SPECIFIC in targeting what you want to achieve

M – Create goals that enable you the MEASURE your progress, to keep track of your journey

A – Goals should be ATTAINABLE to achieve, don’t set an impossible task

R – Make goat that are REALISTIC, think about what is really possible

T – The goal should be TIME-BOUND, know when you want to achieve it

Another tip is to plan for a Cheat Day! A recent study suggests that scheduling cheat days helped people to reach their goals and keep their motivation up in the long run. Try to think of it as a mini-vacation

Find a Friend

Find a friend who joins the challenge. A study performed by the University of Pennsylvania has shown that challenging each other increases endurance and motivation. But finding a workout partner is also good if it’s someone, who will hold you accountable for showing up at the gym. However, “close friends and family members don’t always make the best training partners, because they may allow you to slack off or cancel workouts,” says Jacqueline Wagner, C.S.C.S., a trainer in New York City. Therefore, we recommend you find a new workout partner every few weeks to ensure you continue to benefit from each other.

Now You Go!

We hope that we provided you with lots of resources and tools to fight back fat. Yes, it takes some work and time, but it’s worth the effort! Always think about your reason why and the goals you want to achieve!

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