Build The Upper Chest With The Guillotine Press!

Get Ready To Build A Bigger Upper Chest With The Guillotine Press!

The guillotine press is an old school upper chest exercise that was made popular by Vince Gironda (aka The Iron Guru).

It’s basically a bench press variation where you lower the barbell to your neck line. The purpose of this is to target more of the upper chest. By lowering the bar to your neck line it places more stress on the upper pecs compared to doing regular bench presses where you lower the bar to the middle or lower part of your chest.

Now I know what you are probably thinking at this point…

“Lower the bar to my neck…
Isn’t that dangerous?
Lee have you gone crazy!?”

Even though it sounds dangerous and the exercise has a “Killer Name” – the guillotine press, it’s actually a safe move to preform if you do the exercise properly and lift within your means.

Check out the video clip below for more info…

Note: if you can’t watch the embedded video clip above,
you can watch it right on my YouTube Channel by Clicking Here

This is NOT A Power Move, you won’t be able to lift the same weight as you do for regular bench presses. Rather the guillotine press is a very strict isolation move and should be done with lighter weights and very strict form.

I recommend doing this exercise in a power rack or a bench press that has safety pins to catch the barbell to prevent it from actually coming down across your neck, throat, or hitting you in the face. Being safe and using common sense is extra important with this upper chest exercise.

The key to doing the guillotine bench press properly is to shrug your shoulders high and keep your elbows out wide while doing the exercise. Grip the bar very tightly and lower the bar slowly under control to your neck line, then press it back up keeping the tension on the upper chest muscles.

Regardless of how strong you are, start off with the empty barbell at first and get the technique down pat. After that gradually work your way up slowly only adding 5-10 pounds to each side of the bar for each set. Strict form and feeling the upper chest muscles working is way more important than trying to see “How Much Ya Can Bench” with the guillotine press.

What I recommend you do is start off your chest workout with a few sets of push ups to help pump up the pecs. Then do the guillotine press for 5 sets of 10 reps. Start off light and working up gradually with each set. After that you can do a few sets of regular bench presses working up to heavier weights. And then finish off with some isolation work like pec deck or dumbbell flys.

Give this bench press variation a try in your next chest workout, and then leave me a comment below letting me know how it works for you… 😉

And if you want to get some more interesting old-school bodybuilding tips & tricks, be sure to pick up a copy of the Vince Gironda Program at:

This book is jam packed with 334 pages of absolutely inspirational and fascinating info for any bodybuilding fan. It’s one of those books that you can just get lost in…
Once you start reading, you won’t want to put it down, it’s that good!

And right now you can download a copy of this for yourself over at:

Vince Gironda - The Iron Guru
Vince Gironda – The Iron Guru & Trainer Of Champions!

About The Author


Lee Hayward is a former competitive bodybuilder and muscle building coach who has been online coaching people since 1997. His work has been featured in several international magazines such as: FLEX, Muscle Insider, Muscle Mag International, Testosterone, Ironmag, and Forbes. Lee's main focus right now is with helping men over 40 - who don't want to be fat anymore - lose the gut, build muscle, and get back in shape. If you're ready to "Start Again" for the last time and finally build a lean healthy body that you can be proud of, just e-mail Lee to discuss a realistic action plan that's right for you...


  • Chez

    Great vid, thanks, variation is good for me

    Cheers Corey

    You and Trish have great Christmas and New Year

  • do this exercise with elastic bands with 1 1/4 reps(from bottom) and watch & feel what happens

  • Gaurav

    It’s an awsome exercise….
    Separates men out of boys!!!!!!!!!

  • CJ

    Does this not put excessive stress on your shoulders? I have had a history of shoulder issues and have had to move towards a more narrow grip with dumbells. I’ve found that any excessive stretch movements cause inflammation. I’d be interested in any feedback you’d have. I really appreciate your information.


  • CJ:
    Does this not put excessive stress on your shoulders?I have had a history of shoulder issues and have had to move towards a more narrow grip with dumbells.I’ve found that any excessive stretch movements cause inflammation.I’d be interested in any feedback you’d have.I really appreciate your information.



    When you follow the set up as shown in the video it’s easier on the shoulders. But you obviously have to use your own judgement, if you have a pre-existing shoulder injury then don’t do this exercise.

  • Chez,

    Thanks Corey 🙂

  • martin

    Good video Lee.

  • martin

    Hi Lee.
    I do this movement in a smith machine, supersetted with incline dumbbell flys.
    I find it helps fill out the front,of the neck and even the traps.
    Keep up the good work with these vids.

  • Eric

    This is good for tall guys or guys with long arms. I wouldn’t recommend starting your workout with this though because like lee said you won’t be able to go heavy as usual I would either recommend this for your last set on bench for a burnout to get that pump or almost like a finishing excercise in itself my recommendation for what it’s worth would be do your strength n mass movements first like barbell bench and incline barbell bench than throw in some of these for a set or two than finish with flys just my two cents

  • sal

    Is this better than incline ?

  • Joel Rivera

    How about the lower pecs? Please post. Thanks.

  • Cedric Perry

    Lee, does the incline bench press also accomplish upper chest growth?

  • Dave

    Hi Lee,

    Can you do a simlliar shoulder shrug whilst doing press ups?

  • Dave,

    I don’t see why not, you could experiment and try to duplicate this move with a push up variation as well.

  • ASH

    Hey Lee,

    thanks for your advise and help, maybe it’s late for commenting but it would be better to know then nothing,

    I do lot of searches and read some tutorials but i didn’t find the good answer for training lower chest workout, as I guess before upper chest we have to train lower chest for standing of upper chest.

    if we don’t train lower chest no need of of upper chest, it’s lower for handle upper.

    could you please have blog post some basic/advance training of lower chest workout.


  • ASH,

    Check out my video about decline bench pressing at:

  • ASH

    Hey lee,

    thank you for sharing your video.

    I have doing DECLINE BENCH PRESS in my routine chest work. as:

    1. Decline Bench press
    2. Decline dumble press
    3.Decline dumble fly

    as I mention before I need your help for Basic & Advance workout. for the Basic above workout is good.

    but I don’t know for the advance.


  • can i ad this to the 3 day split routine (the 1 after the beginers workout routine

  • Clint McQuade

    Hey Lee, thanks for all the info, and videos, I’m 52 years old and just started building…..really in joy your u tube stuff….great..I tried this one and like it and I can fell the upper chest work….


  • Steven

    Is there any reason you’re not crossing your ankles and lifting your legs to completely take out any arch to your back? It looks like you’re still getting an arch in your back by not doing that.