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Hydrolyzed collagen and resistance exercise promote tendon hypertrophy and muscle strength.

Tendons are dense connective tissues that attach muscles to bones. They have been described as “mechanical bridges,” responsible for transmitting the energy of muscles to joints and bones to facilitate movement. Tendons undergo anabolic, mechanical, and hypertrophic (growth) changes in response to exercise. Findings from a recent study suggest that collagen peptides, also known as hydrolyzed collagens, and resistance exercise synergistically promote tendon hypertrophy and muscle strength.

Collagens are the primary structural proteins in many of the body’s connective tissues, including tendons. They are characterized by a triple helix arrangement that forms a sturdy, resilient structure, composed of approximately 1,300 to 1,400 amino acids, the most abundant of which are glycine, proline, and hydroxyproline. Collagen peptides are derived by breaking down collagen into smaller amino acid chains (called peptides) by thermal or enzymatic means.

The randomized, placebo-controlled study involved 27 healthy males (average age, 26 years) who participated in a 14-week resistance training program. Half of the participants received 5 grams of supplemental collagen peptides (rich in glycine, proline, and hydroxyproline, among others) daily. The other half received a placebo. The investigators measured physical, functional, and strength characteristics of the participants' Achilles tendons and associated muscle groups before and after the intervention.

They found that both groups experienced improvements in tendon stiffness and muscle strength. However, the cross-sectional area (a measure of hypertrophy) of the Achilles' tendons in the group that took the collagen peptides increased 11 percent versus only 4.7 percent in the group that took the placebo. In addition, the associated muscle groups of the collagen-supplemented group exhibited a 7.3 percent increase in strength, compared to a 2.7 percent increase in the placebo group.

These findings suggest that collagen peptides, also known as hydrolyzed collagen, improve tendon stiffness, enhance tendon hypertrophy, and promote muscle strength in response to resistance exercise. Learn more about hydrolyzed collagen in our overview article.

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