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Bodybuilding Coach Eugene Teo Shares Why He Doesn’t Use Barbells

Strength coach Eugene Teo uses his channel to share tips and insights on training technique and how to avoid some of the most common workout mistakes. In his latest video, Teo makes a bold assertion and shares all the reasons he thinks barbell exercises are not an effective way to achieve consistent gains for most exercisers.

“I think barbells are the most overrated and overused implements out there,” he says. “In general, if I can switch out a barbell exercise with another exercise, I will. And I advise this for the vast majority of other people.”

“They force your body into one strict plane of movement that isn’t ideal for everybody.” He cites the example of the barbell bench press, in which the arms are extended outwards. Teo believes that keeping the elbows at an angle closer to your torso creates a stronger, more stable position, which is more difficult to achieve while holding the bar, leading to unnecessary rotation in your joints. One alternative to the barbell bench press would be the weighted pushup, which flips the body but keeps the movement pattern—and allows for elbow tucking.

Teo’s not alone in stepping away from the barbell bench press—Men’s Health fitness director Ebenezer Samuel, C.S.C.S. also quit the classic gym staple for some time. “By switching to dumbbells and no longer battling shoulder pain, I was able to focus on squeezing my chest instead of simply pushing the weight. This contraction eventually helped me gain even more strength and size in my pecs,” Samuel writes.

Teo believes you can expand that list of exercises even beyond the bench. “There is absolutely no reason why you can’t switch out all of your barbell exercises for dumbbells, cables, machines, or bodyweight exercises,”he says. “You’re still doing compound movements, and you’re still able to use very heavy loads. 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.”

But Teo is not an absolutist about ditching barbells. He adds that he does incorporate the bar into his lower body workout, using moves such as the Romanian deadlift and split squat—but he says he tends to rotate them in as variations rather than program his sessions around them. Teo explains that he avoids relying on these kinds of exercises as they can load up and fatigue the lower back, and instead prefers unilateral exercises and moves that use a dumbbell, machine, or trap bar. “They allow you to generate much more force through your body and direct it towards your goals, and they are a lot more customizable to each person’s unique structure,” he says.

Teo acknowledges that not everyone will abandon the barbell—and based on your training goals and your focus, not everyone should (for example powerlifters, whose entire sport is based around the Big Three barbell lifts). Instead he advises figuring out how to complement those barbell lifts with bodyweight work in a way that works for you. “A lot of the top, elite-level powerlifters I’ve worked with would agree that there is a cost to barbell training, and they do as much as they can feasibly to balance out through intelligent programming and the utilization of accessory exercises,” he says.

This is exactly what happened with Samuel, who returned to barbell benching to find that he was even stronger at the lift thanks to his focused work doing variations with different equipment. “Quitting an exercise isn’t the end,” he writes. “It’s the beginning of a freer version of fitness—and that version of fitness can push you to the gains you actually want.”

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https://www.menshealth.com/fitness/a39012678/stop-using-barbells-eugene-teo/