Boost Leg Strength and Squat with Collagen and Vitamin C
By Robert Schinetsky
When looking to improve athletic performance, muscle gain or any other fitness/physique goal, athletes and fitness enthusiasts alike turn to the well-known commodities -- pre workout supplements, creatine monohydrate, and protein powder, in the hopes that incorporating them into their nutrition and training regimen can improve results.
But what if you’re already supplementing with the “power players”? Is there anything else you can add to your supplement stack that you may have overlooked or not even known about?
Research published in the International Journal of Sport Nutrition and Exercise Metabolism suggests an interesting combination that may be worthy of consideration -- Collagen & Vitamin C.
Collagen: An Undervalued Performance-Powering Protein
The discussion around collagen usually revolves around healthy hair, skin and nails and/or joint support. The reason for this is that collagen is the most abundant protein in the body, responsible for all its key structures. Age-related endogenous production of collagen begins to slow sometime around age 30 and can be accelerated or attenuated based on a variety of lifestyle factors, including diet, stress, UV exposure, and smoking.
Fortunately, supplementing with collagen peptides has been shown to be an effective means for stimulating collagen production in the body and supporting joints, hair, skin, and nails. One aspect of collagen supplementation that is often downplayed or overlooked is its ability to enhance performance and muscle gain. This is primarily due to the fact that collagen has a considerably lower amount of essential amino acids (EAAs), in particular leucine, compared to whey protein powder -- the premier “muscle building” protein on the market.
However, just because collagen may not offer the direct muscle building benefits of whey protein doesn’t mean it cannot indirectly boost performance and, therefore, results.
Remember, collagen is the primary structural protein found in your joints, ligaments, and connective tissue. The healthier your joints are, the more frequently you can train with greater intensities and higher volumes. In the context of a nutritious diet, adequate sleep, and diligence in the gym -- you’ll get the results you’re after.
Previous research has shown that supplementation with hydrolyzed collagen (≈10 g per day) may help increase cartilage thickness in individuals with osteoarthritis and decrease knee pain in athletes.[2,3] Collagen peptides are rich in a number of amino acids, including proline, hydroxyproline, and glycine, which are not found as abundantly in whey protein, red meat, and other dietary proteins commonly found in Western diets. These peptides and amino acids have been shown to reach joint tissues, including cartilage, where they accumulate.
Nutrients recently published a review online (March 2023) titled, Collagen Supplementation for Joint Health: The Link between Composition and Scientific Knowledge which noted that collagen peptides support healthy joints in a variety of ways, including:
● Stimulating the synthesis of extracellular matrix (ECM) macromolecules such as proteoglycans and type II collagen
● Inducing chondrogenic proliferation and differentiation
● Increasing the activity of osteoblasts
● Decreasing the activity of osteoclasts
Moreover, despite the apparent lack (poor) levels of leucine, in vitro studies have found that the dipeptide hydroxy prolyl-glycine (found in collagen) stimulates the PI3K-Akt-mTOR signaling pathway -- the pathway that drives protein synthesis and anabolism.
More recent data, published in Frontiers in Physiology, confirms previous findings, concluding that “The current findings revealed a significantly higher upregulation of key anabolic pathways (PI3K-Akt, MAPK) in human skeletal muscle 4 h following an acute resistance training combined with intake of 15 g of specific collagen peptides compared to placebo.”
Research from 2019 investigating the effects of collagen protein supplementation in premenopausal women found that the combination of resistance training + 15g collagen protein produced greater increases in fat-free (muscle) mass and hand-grip strength compared to resistance training alone. Note: an interesting addition to the study would have been to compare resistance training + collagen peptides vs resistance training + whey to see how the two popular protein powders compared to one another in a population that struggles with maintaining/building muscle.
A more recent study from November 2022 in healthy men found that supplementing with 15 grams of collagen peptides per day in combination with resistance training produced better results than training alone did.
Given that collagen has a somewhat “poor” muscle-building amino acid profile (due to low leucine content) and other “suboptimal” protein sources (plant proteins) have also been shown to do little to enhance hypertrophy, they suggest that the ergogenic and muscle-building qualities of collagen may be due to its ability to “upregulate the synthesis of ECM proteins that in turn appear to have the capacity to regulate myogenesis and muscle regeneration (i.e., remodeling) via stimulation of muscle satellite stem cells.
Based on these findings, collagen may support athletic performance and hypertrophy across multiple mechanisms, both directly and indirectly.
Collagen + Vitamin C for Healthier Joints & Greater Performance
While collagen may be useful for stimulating collagen synthesis in the body as well as aiding exercise performance, there are a number of nutrients that can be taken with collagen to enhance its benefits.
As we mentioned at the outset of this article, research published in the International Journal of Sport Nutrition and Exercise Metabolism indicates that collagen + vitamin C may offer particularly interesting benefits, especially in regards to lower body force production (“leg power”).
Specifically, researchers noted that 20 grams of collagen peptides enriched with vitamin C combined with “heavy strength and power training” resulted in greater improvements in eccentric force capacity in the counter-movement jump compared to training heavy strength and power training + placebo.
A recent 2023 review appearing in Nutrients titled: Nutritional Strategies in the Rehabilitation of Musculoskeletal Injuries in Athletes: A Systematic Integrative Review noted that a significant benefit of hydrolyzed collagen supplements + vitamin C for athletes recovering from injuries.
Most recently, appearing in Frontiers in Physiology, female soccer players supplementing with 30g of collagen peptides/day + 500mg vitamin C vs placebo + 500mg Vitamin C experienced greater improvements in patellar tendon stiffness and Young’s modulus (a measure of the compressive tensile stress and axial strain following 10 weeks of in-season soccer training (which incorporated lower-limb bodyweight strength/plyometric training).
As you may (or may not) know, vitamin C is an essential vitamin most widely known for its immune support and antioxidant qualities. As an antioxidant, vitamin C is able to neutralize reactive oxygen species (ROS) via redox reactions, helping to attenuate oxidative stress induced by inflammation. Additional research finds that vitamin C can also enhance collagen production in the body. Furthermore, animal studies have found that vitamin C deficiencies can lead to weak grip strength and lower levels of activity. However, vitamin C supplementation can alleviate muscle atrophy and declined physical ability. On a side note, while it’s unlikely any healthy individual living in the modern world is deficient in vitamin C, these results are interesting in that they provide yet another avenue by which vitamin C can offer benefit.
Joint Cocktail for Greater Gains & Joint Support AML Joint Cocktail is the premier joint supplement for athletes on the market, supplying 10,000mg hydrolyzed collagen peptides + 1,000mg vitamin C. Additionally, every serving of Joint Cocktail also includes additional nutraceuticals that nourish and support joint health, including:
● Glucosamine + Chondroitin
● Turmeric (as TurmiPure Gold)
● Hyaluronic Acid
● Boswellia Serrata (as ApresFlex)
● Ginger Root
● UC-II (type 2 collagen)
● Vitamin D3
In total, Joint Cocktail delivers 17 grams (17,000mg) of ingredients. Compare that to the “best-selling” joint supplement on Amazon and other retailers, which contain (at most) 3,000-4,000mg of actives, and the difference is exceedingly clear.
AML Joint Cocktail spares no expense and doesn’t make consumers purchase multiple products to supply quality doses of the key nutrients needed to maximize joint support. In fact, you’d need to swallow 20+ capsules to get the same clinical effective dosages found in one serving of our powdered joint supplement!
Moreover, as a powder, Joint Cocktail can be mixed with water (or other beverage of choice) for ease of consumption/digestion as well as efficient absorption and assimilation. Many individuals have difficulty swallowing capsules, and there is a delta between ingestion, digestion and absorption of ingredients in capsules vs. powders due to the body having to digest the capsule itself first before it can begin to utilize the active ingredients contained within it.
Taking everything together (clinically effective dosages, synergism, multi-tiered approach to joint health, etc.), AML Joint Cocktail can be considered the most powerful, comprehensive, and research-backed joint product ever developed!
©Published by Advanced Research Media, Inc. 2023
©Reprinted with permission from Advanced Research Media, Inc.
1. Lis, D. M., Jordan, M., Lipuma, T., Smith, T., Schaal, K., & Baar, K. (2022). Collagen and Vitamin C Supplementation Increases Lower Limb Rate of Force Development, International Journal of Sport Nutrition and Exercise Metabolism, 32(2), 65-73. https://doi.org/10.1123/ijsnem.2020-0313
2. McAlindon, T.E.; Nuite, M.; Krishnan, N.; Ruthazer, R.; Price, L.L.; Burstein, D.; Griffith, J.; Flechsenhar, K. Change in knee osteoarthritis cartilage detected by delayed gadolinium enhanced magnetic resonance imaging following treatment with collagen hydrolysate: A pilot randomized controlled trial. Osteoarthr. Cartil. 2011, 19, 399-405.
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4. Knowledge, S. (2023). Collagen Supplementation for Joint Health : The Link between Composition and Scientific Knowledge.
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