Back fat, bra bulge … whatever you call it, it’s frustratingly stubborn. What’s more: Your desk job can actually mess with your efforts to sculpt your rear view, says Ideen Chelengar, a master instructor and Tier 3+ trainer at Equinox Sports Club Boston. That’s because when you sit hunched over all day, the way your shoulder blades function during exercise can change—and it may become even tougher to target your upper-middle back.
Of course, even if you were targeting those muscles properly, exercise alone wouldn’t blast away back fat: “In reality, losing fat comes down to your diet more than exercise,” Chelengar points out.
But a challenging fitness routine—one that combines cardio and resistance training—plays a key role as well. And the benefits of back workouts go way beyond weight loss.
For starters, training your back the right way can actually help combat “computer posture.” It can also help balance out your body, Chelengar adds, since “[w]e tend to use our shoulders and chest muscles more often than our back muscles.”
So next time you hit the gym, try these eight moves and start building up strength in those hard-to-tone spots.
Thoracic Spine Extension
Start with knees on a pad, 1 to 2 feet away from a bench. Prop elbows on the bench. Sit back into hips (similar to how you would in Child’s Pose). With elbows propped and hips bent, drive chest toward ground.
From here, keeping chest down, lift head up as high as possible. Then tuck chin down as though trying to lengthen neck. While keeping chest down, drive back of neck toward ceiling. You should feel this in middle of back, between shoulder blades. You may also feel some tightness through upper arm and armpits. Hold for 30 to 60 seconds.
Why it works: When you live your days hunched, your shoulders don’t function as they should, making it tricky to target that lower trap and rhomboid area everyone wants to tone, says Chelengar. The first step to hitting those areas? Teaching your body how to extend from the thoracic spine and not the lumbar spine, he says. This move does that.