The Back-Fat Workout

Studio 5 Health and Fitness Contributor Melanie Douglass has three tips to help burn calories and target the lower back, mid back and those muffin tops around the backside of the waist.

1. Cut the Junk. You don’t have to obsess about healthy eating to lose fat around the waist, but you do have to cut junk-food out of your diet. We hear it all the time: (because it’s true!) you can’t “spot-train” away the stubborn fat from one specific area of your body. Losing fat starts with a solid foundation of eating sensibly. It doesn’t mean you can’t ever have a treat, but most days of the week, make it a point to eat simple and clean. The only carbs you need are a whole-grain cereal or bread for breakfast and a whole-grain (brown rice, wheat pasta, quinoa, millet, or 100% whole-wheat bread) for lunch or dinner. That means you can skip crackers, chips, cookies, beverages with calories, etc etc etc. If you clean up your grain/carb selections, most of the work is done when it comes to diet. Simply make the rest of your diet come from fruits, veggies, lean meats, beans, nuts, and low-fat diary. Easy, right?

2. Make Your Heart Beat… Faster! This is just my tricky way of saying: “do some cardio”. Cardio is the second, essential and foundational layer in cutting body fat and improving overall health and muscle tone. Pick a cardio (aerobic) activity that makes your heart beat faster than it is as you read this… do that activity for 5 – 60 minutes, and try to do this every single day.

3. Target the Right Muscles. The lower, mid and side back muscles are often passed over in a normal workout. We pump our biceps, press our triceps, and crunch some abs, but often forget to train that small group of muscles in the small of our back.

Try these simple exercises and not only will your back start looking better, it will feel better and stronger too.

– Modified Superman: (works middle and sides of lower back) Lie down on the floor on your stomach and look at the floor with your nose just an inch or two away from the floor. Reach your arms over head with your palms facing each other. Pull your arms downward and lift your legs off the floor – only lift an inch or two from the floor and contract the muscle in the small of your back as you lift. Let your elbows bend as you bring your arms in toward your rib cage.

– Side Crunch ‘n Lift: (works external obliques) Lie on your left side and place your right hand behind right ear. Lift your right elbow up and down (shape of a rainbow) as you also lift your right leg (keep it straight!). Repeat other side.

– Pullover: (works mid back/lats/bra fat area) Lie down on your back on a stability ball (head, neck and shoulders on the ball), a piano bench, or even the edge of your bed. The goal is be in a position that allows your back to be flat and straight and your arms being able to drop lower than your head. Hold 1 or 2 dumbbells straight above your chest, arms straight. SLOWLY lower the weights down (keeping your arms straight) down until the weight is level with or lower than the crown of your head. Let your elbows bend at this point only. Then straighten the arms and return the weight to starting position. You want to feel a “stretch” through your lats and the side of your back.

– Lock and Lean: (works the lower side back) Stand up straight and place your palms on the sides of your thighs… make sure (this is important!) that your hands are right in the center of your thigh. Slow and controlled, lean right and push your fingers down your right thigh. Pinch your obliques and then slow bring it back up, then do the other side. The key on this exercise is to stay centered; if you lean forward, you shift the focus to the abs… if you lean back, you lose the external obliques.

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