Bodybuilders take a lot of stuff – from anabolic steroids to creatine monohydrate.
But why do bodybuilders take collagen?
Is it to make their joints stronger?
Let’s find out.
What is Collagen?
Collagen is the most abundant protein in our body. It is found in our skin, bones, and ligaments. It is one of the many essential components of our well-being.
As such, collagen is often taken as a supplement to support bone, ligament, and skin health.
Many would consider collagen as the number one element to the longevity of your bones and ligaments. And if we’re talking about the processes happening naturally within your body, that would hold true to a degree.
However, if we’re talking about the effects of collagen supplementation – there’s more to unpack there.
Why Do Bodybuilders Take It?
Bodybuilders use collagen for a few reasons.
First, collagen is a key building block for our skin, bones, and muscles.
It provides the necessary structure and support for our bodies to function properly.
When bodybuilders engage in intense workouts, their muscles are put under a ton of stress and can (read: will) suffer from wear and tear.
In theory, collagen can help support muscle recovery and repair, helping bodybuilders bounce back from their workouts faster.
Additionally, collagen is known to help promote joint health.
Bodybuilders are no strangers to joint pain, as they often lift heavy weights and put a lot of pressure on their joints.
In fact, most professional bodybuilders suffer from chronic joint pain or frequent injuries.
Now, the idea with collagen is that it can help strengthen and support the cartilage in our joints, which can help reduce the risk of injury and keep bodybuilders feeling their best.
Finally, many bodybuilders probably take it to improve their skin health. 
As some of you may know, they’re also judged on how good their skin looks when they step on stage.
And, since we all know how detrimental PEDs and supplements can be for your skin, doing as much as possible to prevent acne breakouts or stretch marks is always welcome in the bodybuilding world.
Will Collagen Help with Muscle Growth?
Collagen is a protein, so by default, it will help with muscle growth.
However, collagen is not a complete protein.
It lacks the amino acid tryptophan and is, therefore, not as good for muscle growth as some other complete protein sources.
This, however, does not mean that collagen won’t help in building lean muscle mass. It just means that there are better, more effective options, like whey, for bodybuilders to choose from.
Does Collagen Help with Fat Loss?
Collagen appears to help with fat loss to a degree.
There’s some evidence to suggest that collagen can help you shed a bit of fat in two different ways.
First, it promotes satiety.
Feeling full means, you won’t eat more, which means you generally won’t consume more calories than you need. And, as we all know, the essence of weight loss is a caloric deficit.
So, if collagen can help you feel full and eat less – it helps with fat loss.
Secondly, collagen appears to have a positive impact on fat accumulation.
A study from 2019 has shown that supplementing with collagen peptides derived from Skate fish did result in a small but noticeable fat loss in humans. 
However, there’s also a ton of evidence suggesting otherwise, so it’s hard to say which is more factually correct.
Does Collagen Help with Joint Pain?
Collagen appears to help with joint pain.
Several studies have showcased the effectiveness of collagen on joint pain relief. 
But as is often the case, you should probably take that with a grain of salt.
The biggest issue with proving or disproving this claim lies in the type of collagen that you’re supplementing with.
If it’s Type II collagen – you’re probably good. That particular form was proven to be successful in alleviating joint pain.
You’re probably wasting money.
Is Collagen Really Beneficial for Bodybuilding?
Sure, collagen does offer benefits to bodybuilders.
As we’ve said earlier, collagen will help in many ways due to its nature.
It will help build muscle, alleviate joint pain, and probably have a minute effect on your fat reserves.
But at this point, we’re playing a semantics game.
It is beneficial because it will benefit you to a degree.
So, I think we need to ask a better question.
Is Collagen Protein Worth it for Bodybuilding?
No, collagen protein is not worth it for bodybuilding, all things considered.
First up, it is not a complete protein.
So, if your primary goal is to support lean muscle mass growth, you’re much better off with another protein source like whey or casein.
Even soy or pea protein will be better.
Next, we must consider that collagen is broken down into individual amino acids after eating.
In other words, your body doesn’t really know you’ve ingested collagen. It treats it just like any other protein source, meaning individual amino acids will just go wherever they are necessary.
So, just because collagen in our body is responsible for joint health, cartilage health, bone health, skin health, etc., doesn’t mean that if you eat it, your body will recognize it and utilize it as its “final form”.
Finally, there’s the cost – the ultimate measurement of worth.
Collagen supplements are usually far more expensive compared to other protein powders. And that really doesn’t make sense, considering most products don’t even include high-quality forms of collagen, such as the UC-II we mentioned above.
What You Should Take Instead of Collagen for Bodybuilding
If you want to ensure you’re maxing out at every step of your bodybuilding journey while remaining natty – you’re much better off sticking to the following basics:
- Whey Protein Isolate – Probably the most effective supplement any natural bodybuilder can take. It’s affordable, potent, has little to no side effects associated with it, and it will do pretty much everything collagen will – only better.
- Creatine Monohydrate – Most extensively tested supplement on the planet, creatine, is arguably every bodybuilder’s best friend. Not only is it super inexpensive, but it was proven effective over and over again, which is not something we can say for many supplements.
- Caffeine – Caffeine is a super effective stimulant most people take on a regular basis. Considering its availability, it is unsurprising that most bodybuilders rely heavily on it. Whether as a part of a pre-workout or in the form of a pill – caffeine is and should be most people’s go-to for a pre-workout pick-me-up.
- Citrulline – Finally, for those pump lovers, citrulline or L-citrulline capsules are a great way to improve vasodilation. Not only will you appear bigger and fuller, but you’ll also notice an increase in performance, vascularity, and blood pressure.
In the end, it’s safe to say that most bodybuilders take collagen for joint health rather than muscle growth.
However, as we saw, it’s questionable how effective collagen is at treating or preventing joint injury or pain, so until we have concrete evidence suggesting otherwise – it’s probably better to stick to other, proven supplements.