How To Get Rid of Lower Back Fat According To PT (Step By Step)

get rid of lower back fat according to pt

Lower back fat is a trouble area for many people; it’s common for people to lose fat from other places before losing it from the lower back. As discouraging as this can be, there is hope; however, it does not come from spot-reducing fat, targeting exercises, or shortcuts.

So, how do you lose lower back fat?

It is impossible to target lower back fat loss directly; however, you can lose it (as well as total body fat) by implementing a calorie deficit, increasing your non-exercise activities, lifting weights three days a week, and adding HIIT workouts one to two days a week.

To simplify the process, I’ll explain why you’re struggling to lose lower back fat and teach you how to tailor your nutrition, exercise, and habits for fat loss.

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What Causes Lower Back Fat?

Lower back fat is stored when one is in a calorie surplus, which means one consumes more calories than one’s body needs to fuel essential functions, non-exercise activities, and exercise.

Accumulation of body fat occurs throughout the body in different areas at different rates based on your genetics. Some people store more of their fat in their lower back area, whereas others may store the majority of their fat in other areas.

Each person’s fat patterning is specific to them; however, common trends are observed across the sexes.

For example, men tend to carry more body fat around the midsection and torso, whereas women tend to have more fat around the hips and legs.

Targeting Lower Back Fat

Many people believe that lower back exercises can reduce lower back fat. However, research has repeatedly shown that spot reduction (targeting) of body fat in an area is impossible.

To lose lower back fat (or fat from any other problem area), you must lose total body fat by creating a calorie deficit (eating fewer calories than you need to maintain weight). Your genetics will determine where that loss comes from, so you may not lose from your lower back area immediately; you could lose weight in other areas first.

You can train the lower back muscles to build more muscle, providing more shape and firmness to the lower back. However, this shape and muscle tone will only be revealed when you lose the fat covering it by implementing a calorie deficit. 

Research confirms this, finding that direct muscle training does not decrease body fat at the site; however, it does increase lean muscle tissue and performance (which can help provide shape and firmness to the area).

To lose fat in these stubborn areas, you must continue your fat-loss phase to lower your total body fat percentage; over time, your body will burn this lower back fat for fuel.

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How To Lose Lower Back Fat

how to lose lower back fat

Step 1: Eat Less to Be in a Calorie Deficit

A calorie deficit occurs when one’s calorie intake is less than the body needs to fuel all bodily functions, non-exercise activities (NEAT), and exercise (workouts). 

Your NEAT and workouts help create a calorie deficit; however, the most significant factor is how much you eat because you cannot out-exercise a poor diet.

How much less you need to consume to create a deficit will be specific to you. You should start by finding your maintenance intake (the calories your body needs to maintain its current weight). 

To estimate your maintenance calories, use this calculator.

From there, you will decrease your estimated maintenance intake by 5-10% every few weeks and monitor your weight loss.

Related Article: How Long Does It Take to Get a Flat Stomach?

Step 2: Increase Your NEAT

NEAT, or non-exercise activity thermogenesis, is the energy you burn daily from non-exercise activities, such as walking, standing, climbing stairs, and fidgeting.

NEAT is typically quantified by your step count, as it’s the most accessible measure of non-exercise activity.

When looking to lose body fat, you want to increase your NEAT, as this can drastically impact your overall energy expenditure (how many calories you burn during the day). It often has more of an impact than a strenuous 30-minute workout.

Start tracking your steps and aim to take at least 8,000 daily. If you can easily reach 8,000 steps daily, increase your daily goal to 10,000-12,000.

Step 3: Lift Weights 3x Per Week

Lifting weights can help with fat loss as it helps preserve lean muscle while in a calorie deficit. When you are in a deficit, your body uses its resources (fat and muscle) for fuel. You must strength train to encourage your body to use fat for fuel and preserve muscle.

Maintaining muscle helps tone your lower back and encourages your body to burn more calories daily (which leads to fat loss).

If you do not resistance train, you will lose muscle mass, negatively impacting your overall body composition and making fat loss more difficult.

Researchers found that individuals who followed a low-calorie diet and resistance-trained retained significantly more lean muscle mass than those who did the same diet but did not resistance-train. 

Focus on the first two steps to achieve your calorie deficit, and focus on resistance training to retain muscle.

Related Article: How to Lose Fat Without Losing Muscle

Step 4: Train HIIT 2x Per Week

HIIT (high-intensity interval training) is more effective than moderate-intensity continuous training at decreasing abdominal subcutaneous (fat covering muscles) and visceral fat (fat surrounding your organs, associated with a higher risk of health conditions). 

Researchers found that individuals who trained 4 sets of 4 minutes at 85-90% of their heart rate max ( the HIIT group) lost significantly more fat than the MICT group who trained 33 minutes at 60-70%.

Aim to train HIIT twice weekly, as this allows you to train hard without putting too much stress and intensity on the body. Do not train it daily, as this can negatively impact recovery and make it harder to lose fat. 

Note: MICT has benefits, including general heart health and calorie expenditure. You can use MICT to increase calorie expenditure and help create a calorie deficit, but if you want to lose fat, two sessions a week of HIIT may be more effective than two MICT sessions.

Step 5: Sleep 7+ Hours a Night

Sleep is essential for hormonal production, appetite regulation, and muscle repair. Once you have fulfilled the first four steps, you must prioritize your sleep (if you haven’t already).

We know that in children, low levels of sleep are associated with obesity (children who sleep less often exercise less, watch more TV, and have higher rates of childhood obesity), and the same can be said for adults.

Research shows that adults who sleep less than 7 hours a night are more likely to be overweight and obese than adults who sleep 7 to 8 hours or more per night. 

Set a consistent bedtime and wake-up time (i.e., 10 pm and 6 am) that allows for 7-8 hours of sleep.

6 Training Considerations For Losing Lower Back Fat

training considerations for losing lower back fat

Training considerations for losing lower back fat are the same principles for encouraging total body fat loss. These include:

Exercise Selection

When you eat less, you may have less energy as workouts go on, so I suggest you choose two to three compound exercises with free weights (i.e., goblet squats, dumbbell bench press) and two to three machine-based isolation exercises (i.e., chest press, hammer strength row).

When you’re in a calorie deficit, you may notice that your low energy level prevents you from training hard. 

In this case, swapping free-weight movements for machines may make sense if you are doing movements where you need to use a lot of weight to target the muscle (such as back squats). Machines can help you isolate the muscle tissue without beating up the body.

For example, you can swap the hack squat machine for barbell back squats.

That said, if you can perform free weight movements without excessive fatigue, feel free to include them. Listen to the body and make adjustments as needed.


Aim to do 15-20 total work sets per workout (work sets are tough training sets, not warm-ups). To hit this total set range, you should perform 2-5 sets per exercise (depending on how many exercises you do in that workout).

Ideally, you will choose 4-6 total exercises per workout. That way, you can put your best effort into a few challenging sets rather than training longer with lower-quality sets.


Train in the 5-10 rep range for general strength and muscle retention or in the 10-20 rep range to increase muscle retention and endurance. I recommend spending time in both rep ranges to get the best of both worlds.

Training heavy with very low reps (1-5) will not deliver enough muscle training volume to encourage growth. It can also impede recovery (and add more stress to the body) since you are not eating enough to fuel recovery and hard training with heavy loads.


Keep loading between 30-80% of your maximum. If you don’t know your maximums for a lift, simply focus on choosing a weight based on the prescribed reps.

Choosing a weight that fits your rep range means you want to use as much weight as possible for the number of reps you are training. 

Rest Periods

Your rest periods can be shorter, between 1-2 minutes on heavier lifts (5-10 rep range) and 45-90 seconds on lighter movements (10-20 rep range). These guidelines will allow you to stay moving in your workouts to get enough training volume.

If you notice your energy levels are low and short rest periods stop you from training hard in a set, rest longer. You never want to sacrifice a good set because you were not resting enough.


Aim to complete two weekly HIIT sessions lasting 20-30 minutes.

The intensity of your HIIT sessions is prescribed based on a percentage of your heart rate max. To estimate your heart rate max, you can use the following equation:

220 – age = estimated heart rate max

For example, if you’re 40 years old and your HIIT is prescribed at 80-90% HR Max, you should reach 144-162 beats per minute during your work intervals.

If you struggle to lose fat despite implementing all the steps and training considerations, consider adding 30-90 minutes of weekly MICT cardio. However, if this impacts your strength training, it’s not worth it (and the issue is most likely your diet, not your exercise routine).

Related Article: Cutting Without Cardio: Is it Possible? (100% Yes It Is!)

Sample Workout Split For Getting Rid Of Lower Back Fat

sample workout split for getting rid of lower back fat

The following plan is a five-day workout split, with three weight sessions and two HIIT sessions. The weight sessions are total body in nature, and the goal should be to push the muscles hard and rest adequately (the goal is not to burn as many calories as possible).

The HIIT workouts can be used for running (on a treadmill), incline walking (on a treadmill), or rowing. The goal is to get your heart rate into the appropriate zones. Low to moderate-impact movements are best unless you are a well-trained runner, in which case you can run.

Note: 500 calories burned from running vs. 500 calories burned from incline walking are still both 500 calories burned (you don’t get extra points from running, especially if running is uncomfortable).

Day 1

  • Back Squat: 3 sets of 8
  • Barbell Bench Press: 3 sets of 8 reps
  • T Bar Row: 3 sets of 8 reps
  • Dumbbell Incline Chest Press: 3 sets of 8 reps
  • Walking Lunge: 3 sets of 8 reps per leg

Day 2 – HIIT and Core

  • 4 Minutes at 80-90% of Heart Rate Max, 4 minutes of Rest. Repeat 4 times


  • Sit Up: 4 sets of 8-10
  • Back Extension: 3 sets of 8-10

Day 3

  • Bent Over Row: 3 sets of 12
  • Barbell Deadlift: 3 sets of 12 reps
  • Lat Pulldown Bar Row: 3 sets of 12 reps
  • Cable Lateral Raise: 3 sets of 12 reps
  • Dumbbell Shoulder Press: 3 sets of 12 reps 

Day 4 – HIIT

  • 4 Minutes at 80-90% of Heart Rate Max, 4 minutes of Rest. Repeat 4 times


  • Sit Up: 4 sets of 8-10
  • Back Extension: 3 sets of 8-10

Day 5

  • Barbell Incline Bench Press: 3 sets of 15
  • Hack Squat: 3 sets of 15 reps
  • Machine Chest Press: 3 sets of 15 reps
  • Romanian Deadlift: 3 sets of 15 reps
  • Dumbbell Row: 3 sets of 15 reps per side

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About The Author

Mike Dewar

Mike holds a Master’s in Exercise Physiology and a Bachelor’s in Exercise Science. He’s a Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist (CSCS), USA Weightlifting Advanced Coach, and has over 10+ years of experience working with collegiate athletes, national level lifters, and beginners alike. Mike is Founder of J2FIT Strength and Conditioning, a growing global training company with gyms in New York City, Cincinnati, and online offering personal training, online custom coaching programs.