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Barbells Are ‘Overrated’ and ‘Overused,’ According to Strength Coach

  • Bodybuilder and strength coach Eugene Teo said barbells are “overrated and overused.”
  • “They force your body into one strict plane of movement,” he said in a YouTube video.
  • But Teo acknowledges that there are benefits to barbells for some movements, particularly lower body.

Eugene Teo is an Australian bodybuilder, strength coach, and fitness influencer with 347,000 followers on Instagram.

He’s no stranger to the weight room, but said he recently changed up his training to include less barbell exercises. 

In a YouTube video about the decision, Teo said he thinks barbells are “overrated and overused.”


“They force your body into one strict plane of movement that isn’t ideal for everybody, especially as you start to get stronger and spend more time in the gym,” Teo said, adding that if he can replace a barbell exercise with one using other equipment, he usually will.

One example would be the bench press. Using dumbbells instead of a barbell squeezes the pecs more, Teo said. He also recommends weighted push-ups, which allow you to keep your elbows closer to the body.

Aside from the bench press, Teo says there are other barbell exercises that could be swapped out for exercises with other weights.

“There is absolutely no reason why you can’t switch out all of your barbell exercises for dumbbells, cables, machines, or bodyweight exercises,” he said.

You can still do compound exercises with heavy loads, according to Teo.

“While the total weight on the bar may be different, the actual stress you’re putting on your muscles will be about the same, because you’re able to direct that weight more efficiently and effectively right where you want it without having to worry about your joints being in awkward, uncomfortable positions,” he said.

Barbells have many benefits

Teo still uses barbells for some movements, particularly lower body ones, including Romanian deadlifts, hip-thrusts, and squats, he said.

A post shared by Eugene Teo (@coacheugeneteo)


It’s important to consider each individual’s proportions and mobility and find what’s right for them, Teo said. Some people may not have the mobility to perform deep barbell squats, for example, so they might do better using a leg press machine.

Convenience and personal preference are also important, Teo said, and he acknowledges that training with barbells can be a lot of fun.

Many trainers are huge proponents of barbells.

“They’re best for getting strong and lifting heavy, easier to progressively overload and can add a lot of weight,” Miriam Fried, NYC-based personal trainer and founder of MF Strong, previously told Insider. 

Barbells allow for even distribution of weight and also often rely less on grip strength than dumbbells.

As Insider’s Gabby Landsverk previously reported, there are benefits to all types of weights, including dumbbells, kettlebells, and barbells.