The insanity of Brian DeCosta's shredded physique catches the eye of people at all levels of fitness, but the "shredded for life" results he promises are not achieved without the discipline he has built. DeCosta recently provided a tier system that ranks his workouts for beginner, intermediate, or advanced lifters based on their number of training years. This upper-body workout specifically leans more advanced, but you can always scale down the number of sets or reps to better fit your goals and your current training experience.

When you're in a cutting phase, DeCosta recommends keeping the weights as heavy as you can and the reps high. This is clearly a theme in his training, as DeCosta's other push and pull workouts are heavy on the reps and supersets.

Not only is this a one-way ticket to muscle growth, but doing more helps him feel that he's getting a better workout, he says, which can be a positive reinforcement. And when your food is low, you need all the mental pump-ups you can get.

Brian DeCosta's Shredded-Upper-Body Workout
Barbell Incline Bench Press Medium-Grip
4 sets, 6 reps
+ 6 more exercises


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Technique Tips

Incline Bench Press

Incline Bench Press

On your first exercise, you'll be doing 4 sets of lower reps, followed by 3 sets of higher reps, because why not get brutal right off the bat? Choose your weights accordingly and make sure you're moving through a full range of motion. Keep your shoulder blades pulled together and down before pinning them into the pad, and create a slight arch with your back to help protect your shoulders. Driving your feet into the floor will help you move heavier weight, too.

Barbell Shrug

Superset number one! Start with your hands gripping the barbell just outside your legs. Again, before starting the movement, pull your shoulders back and stand tall. Think about sliding the bar up your legs and elevating your shoulders toward the ceiling. You should not be using any momentum from your legs or bending your knees.

Signature Pre-Workout
Signature Pre-Workout
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Rear Delt Fly + Lateral Raise

Immediately following the shrugs, grab a pair of dumbbells that you know you can perform higher reps with. For the 20 total reps, do 5 rear delt flyes, 5 lateral raises, 5 rear delt flyes, and 5 lateral raises, in that order. Keep both movements slow and controlled. Keep your lats engaged and your shoulders back to avoid letting the traps taking over.

Upright Row

Your second superset begins with an upright row. Using an EZ-curl bar here will help alleviate the wrist pain that's pretty common with a straight bar. The main thing to remember with this exercise is to keep your elbows high—notice how Brian keeps his above the bar at all times.

Standing Overhead Triceps Extension

Keep your EZ-curl bar from the previous exercise and hold it straight over your head with a supine grip. With your elbows tucked and your biceps close to your head, bend your elbows and lower the bar behind your head until they reach about a 90-degree angle. If you're feeling a nice pumpy stretch in those tris, you're doing it right.

Cable Chest Fly

Cable Chest Fly

You may have done these before, but this time you'll be kneeling instead of standing. Set the cable pulleys right at your chest height and alternate with every rep which hand goes over the other in the middle. You can keep a slight bend in your elbows, but you should maintain it throughout the entire rep.

Standing Cable Press

The workout ends with one more superset burner. DeCosta's version of the standing cable press here is slightly different, creating a neutral grip with the V-handle attachment. Start with the handles just below your chest, and keep them close to your body as you press upward. Finish with your arms fully extended before returning to the starting position.

Cable Push-down

Using the same attachment on the upper pulley, pull the handles to chest level and perform your standard push-down, only now gripping either side of the V-handle. As always, no half reps; your elbows should come just above 90 degrees, and you should end with straight arms in order to feel the full contraction.

If you made it through this upper-body shredder, you've done DeCosta proud!

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About the Author

Kailan Kalina

Kailan Kalina

Kailan Kalina is a former content editor, competitive powerlifter, and certified personal trainer.

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