YouTube fitness is filled with hot takes and unpopular(or controversial) opinions. It is as the cool kids say it these days “the name of the game” as controversy brings views and views bring in the sweet cash. So saying things for shock is nothing new in the online fitness world. However, this interesting take on working out is original and unpopular enough that it caught me off guard and I wanted to take a deeper look at the meaning behind this.
The author of this discussion-worthy idea is Coach Eugene Teo. Eugene Teo is a part-time YouTube veteran, part-time fitness coach, and a full-time Liu Kang lookalike. Last week Coach Teo uploaded a video titled
“Why I Stopped Doing Barbell Exercises & You Should Too” in which he goes into detail explaining why he believes that barbell work is just not worth doing. Now let’s dive a bit deeper into the details of the claim.
Bodybuilder doesn’t use barbells and neither should you
Okay so, the long-short of the video is is that barbells are fixed rigid straight lines loaded with heavy weights. You can manipulate them into working with them but not as much as free weights or machines. Coach Teo then makes an example of the bench press. On a bench press, you work your entire upper body and use multiple joints. Once you lift the barbell, you naturally want to flare out your elbows which puts you at a disadvantage strength-wise.
With proper training and technique work, you can fix that and learn to create upper body “tightness and use your entire upper body not just your arms. However, this is where the “problem” occurs, according to Coach Teo, as you are still just manipulating your own body and not the object you are pushing (barbell). If you were to do a bench press with a dumbbell, you could easily rotate the weights and relieve the stress of some of your joints which is something you can’t do with a standard barbell.
I think that despite Coach Teo making a good point, I would strongly disagree with his take on the bench press. My disagreement comes from the fact that injuries occur mostly if you are training bench for a sport (powerlifting, CrossFit, strongman…etc.). When training recreationally manly for health or looks, the bench press can be a great tool, especially for beginners.
Coach Teo then went on to mention squats among other exercises as another example of barbell work not being worth it, citing levers and hip mobility. As a lanky powerlifter, I will tell you right now, squatting sucks. However, I would say it comes down again to technique and a lot of work. It took me a lot of time before I could feel comfortable doing deep squats but I managed to “figure it out“.
I would say learning to squat properly and deeply takes as much time and dedication as learning anything else in life. It might suck at first but with time under the bar, you find your groove eventually. Doesn’t matter how flexible or stiff your joints are squatting often will make you good at squatting.
Overall, I will agree with Coach Teo that any kind of resistance training will make you stronger and bigger. Some methods are more efficient than others, but resistance training is crucial. Does this mean you should ditch barbells and stick to machines and free weights? A moderate combination of all of the above should give you the best muscular stimulation.