Study: Collagen peptide supplement improves muscle damage recovery

By Olivia Haslam

- Last updated on GMT

GettyImages - Leg muscle pain / Cecilie_Arcurs
GettyImages - Leg muscle pain / Cecilie_Arcurs

Related tags Muscle damage exercise Sports nutrition Collagen Collagen peptides Sports nutrition products Gelita

Collagen peptides improve training recovery markers over a 12-week supplement period, a new study funded by Gelita GmbH has found.

The randomised controlled trial assessed the influence of specific collagen peptide (SCP) supplementation on recovery markers following eccentric exercise-induced muscle damage in 55 predominantly sedentary male participants over three months.

Measurements of muscle strength (maximum voluntary contraction - MVC), how fast participants could develop force (rate of force development - RFD), and power production (countermovement jump height - CMJ) were found to recover significantly faster in the SCP group. 

The authors from Austria conclude: “Results show that combining SCP and concurrent training (CT) over a 12-week period significantly improved markers reflecting recovery, specifically in maximal, explosive, and reactive strength.” 

They suggest that prolonged intake of collagen peptides may support muscular adaptations by facilitating remodelling of the extracellular matrix (ECM).


Collagen, constituting 30% of total protein mass in the human body​, is a crucial component of connective tissues found in cartilage, tendons, ligaments, and muscles.

In contrast to the amino acid composition of myofibrillar protein, collagen peptides (CP) mainly consist of glycine, proline, and hydroxyproline, which contributes to tissue stability and force transmission.

There is a constant process of collagen degradation and synthesis to perform functions​, with a turnover rate of about 0.5–2% per day, influenced by signals from the ECM​.

And collagen plays a key role in remodelling intramuscular connective tissue​ (IMCT), essential for ECM plasticity. 

IMCT in which collagen types I and III account for approximately 75%​, is essential for proper mechanotransduction (the cellular processes that translate mechanical stimuli into biochemical signals), and optimal movement), and therefore optimal movement performance.

Muscles, tendons, and IMCT of the lower limbs have been previously found to have higher gene expression​ of certain collagenous tissues and mediators (e.g., collagen type I, III, TGFβ-1, lysyl oxidase) after both resistance and endurance training, suggesting a possible role in regulating muscle adaptation, repair, recovery, and restructuring.

Additionally, supplementation with collagen peptide (CP) has been shown to stimulate collagen synthesis​, whereas, in contrast, the intake of other proteins has not significantly increased MCT synthesis rates​.

Therefore, and due to limited data on long-term effects, the authors aimed to investigate whether daily CP supplementation over a 3-month training period is superior to placebo in promoting recovery, utilising performance tests and perceived muscle soreness as indicators of potential adaptations in myofibrillar proteins and IMCT.

Study ​ 

55 predominantly sedentary male participants were assigned to consume either 15g of Gelita’s SCP (10 g PeptENDURE + 5 g TENDOFORTE) or a Gelita-provided placebo (PLA) and engage in a concurrent training (CT) intervention (30 min each of resistance and endurance training, 3x/week) for 12 weeks.

Before and after the intervention, eccentric muscle damage was induced by 150 drop jumps.

Measurements of MVC, RFD, peak RFD, CMJ, and muscle soreness (MS) were determined pre-exercise, immediately after exercise, and 24 and 48 hours post-exercise. 

In addition, body composition, including fat mass (FM), fat-free mass (FFM), body cell mass (BCM), and extracellular mass (ECM) were determined at rest both before and after the 12-week intervention period.

Three-way mixed ANOVA results showed effects in favour of the SCP group.

MVC (p = 0.02, ηp2 = 0.11), RFD (p < 0.01, ηp2 = 0.18), peak RFD (p < 0.01, ηp2 = 0.15), and CMJ height (p = 0.046, ηp2 = 0.06) recovered significantly faster in the SCP group.

However, no effects were found for muscle soreness (p = 0.66) and body composition (FM: p = 0.41, FFM: p = 0.56, BCM: p = 0.79, ECM: p = 0.58).

According to the authors: “The main findings of the study indicate a higher muscular regenerative capacity in subjects supplementing SCP compared to PLA.

“This is reflected in significant improvements in the biomechanical parameters MVC and RFD, which recovered significantly faster at each measurement time point (post, 24 and 48 h), and CMJ at 48 h following 150 drop jumps in the SCP group.”

The note: “Interestingly, despite the lack of significant differences in fat-free mass, the improvements in regenerative capacity suggest that adaptations in musculotendinous structures and potential neural adaptations may play a key role in the observed results.”

They do however add that future studies should explore the specific effects of SCP on neural activity patterns and molecular adaptations that contribute to enhancing force transmission to attain a further understanding of underlying mechanisms.


Journal: Frontiers in Nutrition

“Influence of specific collagen peptides and 12-week concurrent training on recovery-related biomechanical characteristics following exercise-induced muscle damage—A randomized controlled trial”

Authors: Kevin Bischof, Savvas Stafilidis, Larissa Bundschuh, Steffen Oesser, Arnold Baca, and Daniel König.


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