Download Article Download Article

Losing fat from the upper half of your body requires a few different approaches. You’ll need to do some cardio workouts to burn fat. Exercise your chest and arms and your back to emphasize your muscles and get rid of pesky back fat. And eating a healthy diet can make sure your hard work in the gym doesn’t go to waste.

Method 1
Method 1 of 4:
Using Cardio to Burn Fat

  1. 1
    Go for a run if you can't get to the gym. Running is a great cardio exercise if you don’t have access to cycling or rowing machines but still want a good work out. Try running 20 to 30 minutes at a time 3 times a week. It doesn’t matter how fast you run, as long as you’re moving faster than you can walk.[1]
    • Running is a high-impact cardio workout, so if you have problems with your feet or knees, you might want to try something else.
  2. 2
    Try cycling for a lower impact workout. Cycling gives you the same type of workout as running, but with less impact on your legs. You can cycle on a stationary bike machine, or go for a bike ride outside. Cycle 3 times a week for 30 to 45 minutes per ride.[2]
    • If you find that the ride seems too easy, increase the resistance on your bike or cycling machine.
  3. 3
    Go for a swim to work out your whole body. Swimming works the muscles throughout your whole body and also burns a lot of fat. You can use the basic freestyle stroke, or you can mix in the other strokes – butterfly, breast, and backstroke – for variety. How much you can swim at a time will depend on your overall health, but start by swimming 20 to 30 minutes 3 days a week.[3]
  4. 4
    Go for a walk for a low impact workout. Walking is a great cardio exercise if you’ve been injured or don’t have the endurance for a longer workout yet. Go for a 20- to 45-minute walk 2 to 3 times per week. You can walk outside, on a treadmill, or on a track in a gym.[4]
  5. 5
    Choose 1 to 2 of your favorite cardio workouts each week. You should do cardio 2 to 3 times a week for 20 to 30 minutes per day. You can do the same cardio each time, or you can switch it up each day.[5]
    • For example, if you do cardio on Mondays and Wednesdays, you can go for walks both of those days, or you could go for a walk 1 day and a swim the next.
  6. Advertisement

Method 2
Method 2 of 4:
Exercising Your Chest and Arms

  1. 1
    Perform a dumbbell bench press to exercise your pectoral muscles.[6] Lie on your back on a workout bench or other flat surface. Bring the dumbbells up to your chest, holding them shoulder-width apart with your palms facing each other. Rotate your arms so your palms face out and your forearm and upper-arm create a 90-degree angle. Exhale as you use your chest muscles to push the dumbbells up. Lock your arms at the top of the push and breathe for a second. Lower the weights slowly as you inhale.[7]
    • Perform 3 sets of 8 to 10 reps of this exercise.
    • To determine how much weight you should use, figure out the heaviest weight you can use for 1 rep. Then figure out about 60 to 70 percent of that weight for your regular set. For example, if the heaviest weight you can use for 1 rep is 10 lb (4.5 kg), then you should use 6 lb (2.7 kg) dumbbells for your sets.
    • If it begins to feel like there's hardly any resistance with the weight you're using, try the heaviest weight test again and readjust the weights you use.
  2. 2
    Try a one-arm shoulder press to build your triceps. Stand with your legs just less than shoulder-width apart. Hold the dumbbells at your sides. Bring one dumbbell up so it’s even with your shoulder and your palm faces out – this is your starting position. Exhale and push the dumbbell up so your arm is fully extended. Pause for a second and then lower the dumbbell back down. Perform 8 to 10 reps and then switch arms. Repeat 3 sets.[8]
  3. 3
    Perform an upright row to sculpt your back. Stand with your legs about shoulder-width apart. Hold a dumbbell in each hand with your palms facing your thighs. Keep your back straight and your arms slightly bent at the elbow. Lift the dumbbells to your shoulders as you exhale, keeping them as close to your sides as possible. Keep your elbows above your forearms as you lift, and bring the dumbbells as close to your chin as possible. Hold the dumbbells for a second, and then inhale as you slowly lower them back down.[9]
    • Repeat 3 sets of 10 to 12 reps.
  4. 4
    Do an incline push-up.[10] Stand in front of a bench or elevated platform. Place your hands on the bench or platform, with your hands slightly more than shoulder-width apart. Move your feet back so that your body is straight back and your arms are straight up from the platform. Keep your body straight and slowly lower yourself to the edge of the platform or bench. Then push your body back up until your arms are extended.[11]
    • Repeat for 3 sets of 8 to 15 reps.
  5. 5
    Try a tricep extension. Lie on your back on a workout bench or other flat surface. Hold the dumbbells in front of you, with your arms at a 90-degree angle from the bench and your body. Keep your elbows tucked in and your palms facing each other. Inhale, keeping your upper arms stationary, and lower the dumbbells to your ears, bending your arms at the elbows. When your dumbbells reach your ears, use your triceps to raise the dumbbells back up while you exhale.[12]
    • Repeat for 3 sets of 6 to 8 reps.
  6. 6
    Choose 2 to 3 of these exercises for your workout. You don't need to do every single one of these exercises. Instead, choose 2 or 3 to do on the days you work out your chest and arms.
  7. Advertisement

Method 3
Method 3 of 4:
Sculpting Your Back Muscles

  1. 1
    Do chin-ups. Grip the chin-up bar with your palms facing out and your arms slightly closer than shoulder-width apart. Your arms should be fully extended above you, and your torso should be as straight as possible. Exhale as you pull your body up until your head is level with the bar. Hold this position with your biceps slightly squeezed, and then exhale as you lower yourself slowly back to your starting position.[13]
    • If you don’t have the strength to do this on your own, ask a spotter to support you by holding your legs.
    • Repeat this for 5 sets of 2 to 3 reps.
  2. 2
    Try a dumbbell row to exercise your back and arms. Rest your right knee on a workout bench and bend at the waist until your upper body is parallel to the floor, then place your right hand on the bench. Use your left hand to pick up a dumbbell from the floor and hold it with your palm facing your torso, your arm extended, and your back straight. Exhale as you slowly lift the dumbbell, bending your arm at the elbow and keeping your upper arm near your torso. Squeeze the back muscles when the dumbbell reaches your chest. Inhale as you lower the dumbbell back to the floor.[14]
    • Repeat the move for 3 set of 8 to 10 reps on each side of your body.
  3. 3
    Perform a bent-over rear delt raise. Sit on the edge of a workout bench with your legs together and two dumbbells placed slightly behind your legs. Bend at the waist, keeping your back straight and your palms facing each other, and reach for the dumbbells. Keep your arms bent slightly at the elbows and exhale as you lift the dumbbells out to the side until your arms are parallel to the floor. Hold the dumbbells in position for 1 second and then lower them slowly while inhaling.[15]
    • Repeat this for 3 sets of 6 to 8 reps.
  4. 4
    Choose 2 or 3 exercises to add to your workout routine. To really get definition in your back and melt away fat, you'll want to diversify how you work out that area. Incorporating 2 or 3 of these exercise on back day can help you do that.
  5. Advertisement

Method 4
Method 4 of 4:
Eating a Healthy Diet

  1. 1
    Eat 3 well-balanced meals a day to lose belly fat. Eating 3 well-balanced meals a day can help cut down on your body. Each meal should include a mixture of whole grains, fruits, veggies, and lean protein.[16]
  2. 2
    Stop drinking soda. Even diet soda can increase fat around your belly. Ditch the soda – diet or regular – and instead drink flavored waters. If you miss the fizz of soda, you can try carbonated water.[17]
    • You should also cut energy drinks from your diet. They tend to be very high in sugar. You can try sugar-free versions if you like, but check the nutrition facts to make sure there really isn't any sugar in them.
  3. 3
    Eat more fiber to get rid of back fat. Fiber will keep you fuller for longer, which can decrease your cravings for junk food. The empty calories from junk food tend to create fat buildup in your back, so eating more fiber can actually help decrease back fat. Substitute regular bread and pasta for whole wheat versions, and add beans and nuts to your diet.[18]
    • For example, you can substitute white pasta for the whole wheat version and still have your favorite pasta dishes.
  4. 4
    Cut sugar from your diet. If you consume too much sugar, your body will produce more insulin and store more fat. Stay away from candy and junk food that has a lot of sugar. Also check the nutrition label on your favorite foods – even low-sugar versions might have more sugar than you think. Stick to between 0 to 2 grams (0.0 to 0.071 oz) of sugar in each serving of food.[19]
    • If you're having a hard time cutting sugar, you can start by replacing high-sugar food with low-sugar alternatives. For example, you can use a natural sugar substitute, like Truvia, in your coffee. You can also snack on sugar-free versions of your favorite candy.
  5. 5
    Control your portion sizes. If you’re not paying attention how much you’re eating at each meal, if doesn’t matter what you’re eating. You can decrease the amount you eat by using a smaller plate for meals, pre-proportioning snacks, and using measuring cups to measure your portions.[20]
    • If you’re using a smaller plate for your meals, try to make sure at least half that plate is taken up by vegetables.
    • Use snack-size food storage bags to make your snacks. For example, if you buy a big bag of low-calorie popcorn, divide that large bag into several smaller bags. You’re less likely to eat the whole bag that way!
    • Use the measuring cups to actually measure out servings. If you make a recipe with a 1  c (240 mL) serving size, actually measure it out with a 1  c (240 mL) measuring cup. It will help you learn what serving sizes look like.
  6. 6
    Don’t eat after dinner. If you eat too close to bedtime, your body won’t have the chance to burn enough calories to prevent your body from storing fat. Once you’ve had dinner, try not to eat for the rest of the night. If you find yourself getting hungry, you can try drinking water or tea.[21]
    • If you absolutely have to eat between dinner and bedtime, eat low-calorie foods like vegetables.
  7. Advertisement

Expert Q&A

Ask a Question
200 characters left
Include your email address to get a message when this question is answered.



      About This Article

      Julian Arana, M.S.eD., NCSF-CPT
      Co-authored by:
      Certified Personal Trainer
      This article was co-authored by Julian Arana, M.S.eD., NCSF-CPT. Julian Arana is a Personal Trainer and the Founder of B-Fit Training Studios, a personal training and wellness set of studios based in Miami, Florida. Julian has over 12 years of personal training and coaching experience. He is a certified personal trainer (CPT) by the National Council on Strength and Fitness (NCSF). He has a BS in Exercise Physiology from Florida International University and an MS in Exercise Physiology specializing in strength and conditioning from the University of Miami. This article has been viewed 455,743 times.
      73 votes - 92%
      Co-authors: 12
      Updated: November 30, 2020
      Views: 455,743
      Article SummaryX

      To lose upper body fat, start by doing cardio exercise, such as swimming or running, 3 times a week for 30 minutes each time to improve your metabolism and burn fat. Also, focus on weight-training exercises that work your pectoral muscles, like dumbbell bench presses, and your back and arm muscles, like rowing or chin-ups. In addition to exercise, try to eat 3 balanced meals a day of whole grains and lean protein to cut down on body fat. If you can, eat more fiber to keep you full and decrease cravings for junk food, which can create a buildup of back fat. For tips on how to avoid late-night snacking, which causes your body to store fat, keep reading!

      Did this summary help you?

      Thanks to all authors for creating a page that has been read 455,743 times.

      Reader Success Stories

      • Anonymous


        Jan 20, 2018

        "The part where it says run for 30 minutes or walk, knowing that you're doing it for your own benefit. Thank you so..." more
      Share your story

      Did this article help you?