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Beef Protein Will Improve Your Bench Press 1-Rep Max

How much do you bench, brah? No, seriously, how much do you bench?! Well, whatever it is, you’re likely to improve it significantly by chugging down a hydrolysed beef protein shake instead of whey, a new study suggests.

Unless you’re vegetarian or vegan, you should pay close attention to a study set to be published in the International Journal of Sports Nutrition and Exercise Metabolism. The study by Naclerio, Seijo-Bujia, Larumbe-Zabala and Earnest, suggests that consuming hydrolysed beef protein can significantly increase your bench press 1-rep max.1

How Was the Study Conducted?

Basically, scientists took twenty-four physically active males… Well, they didn’t just “take” them – that would be kidnapping. Which is illegal. And would damage the study’s credibility. They probably just put an ad in the paper or something. Anyway, that’s not important. What is important is that these fully consenting, physically active males took part in an 8-week resistance-training program. The study examined the impact of beef protein, whey protein, and carbohydrates on strength performance, limb circumferences and muscular thickness. The guys were randomly split into three groups: Each group consumed 20 grams of supplement mixed with orange juice, once a day – either right after training or before breakfast.

How Were Results Measured?

As with all studies, it is important to consider how the results are measured. In this case, changes were measured as a percentage, using a variety of methods:

  • Strength performance was measured as 1-rep max.
  • Body composition was measured using Plethysmography (A plethysmograph is an instrument which measures volume changes within the body).
  • Muscle thickness was measured by ultrasound.

In regards to body composition, both groups consuming beef and whey supplements increased fat-free mass (2% and 1.4%, respectively) compared with 0% for the carbohydrate only group.

All groups increased vastus medialis (part of the quadriceps) thickness: Beef group by 11.1%, whey group by 12.1% and carbohydrate group by 6.3%

Biceps brachialis thickness increased notably in the beef and carbohydrate groups (11.2% and 4.5% respectively) compared with only 1.1% in the whey group.

Only the group supplementing with hydrolysed beef protein increased both arm (4.8%) and thigh circumferences (11.2%).

All three groups significantly improved their 1-rep max squat (beef 21.6%, whey 14.6% and carbohydrate 19.6%). However, the 1-rep max bench press improvements were most significant for beef at 15.8% compared with whey at just 5.8%

The study concluded that protein-carbohydrate supplementation increases overall lean body mass and lower body hypertrophy. However, hydrolysed beef protein improved upper body hypertrophy and strength more significantly.

What is Hydrolysed Beef Protein?

If you want to increase your bench press and grow your arms, you might want to skip this part. Put it this way, you ain’t getting a powder made from processed beef burgers! Think more along the lines of bones, hooves, ligaments and ears.

What Do Other Studies Have to Say on the Matter?

Well, interestingly – as the people conducting this study state – this protein source is: “scarcely researched relative to exercise performance“. So the only thing we really have to go on here is the biological value of the protein. The biological value, in its simplest terms, is how much of the protein the body is able to absorb. The higher the value, the more of the protein the body is able to absorb. The biological value of beef protein is 80, which is lower than both fish and milk, and significantly less than whey protein concentrate at 104.

Our Final Words (For Now…)

Until the study is published in full, we can only speculate as to what factors might be at play here. There is a clear increase in upper body hypertrophy and strength for the beef protein group, but without visibility of the intricacies involved, we are resorting to guess work. What we do know, is that different protein sources appear to be more beneficial in particular situations. So if increasing your bench press 1RM and growing your arms is a priority for you, we are here to say – beef it up!

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  1. Naclerio F, Seijo-Bujia M, Larumbe-Zabala E, Earnest CP. Carbohydrates Alone or Mixing With Beef or Whey Protein Promote Similar Training Outcomes in Resistance Training Males: A Double Blind, Randomized Controlled Clinical Trial. Int J Sport Nutr Exerc Metab. 2017 May 22:1-28. doi: 10.1123/ijsnem.2017-0003.


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