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I'm trying to find an authoritative reference on how to improve tendon strength. Often when I search for it, what I find is instead advice which focuses on muscle strenght.

This reddit post suggests high reps help connective tissue growth and this youtube short by Movement by david says the trick is to do speed reps.

Now none of either have sources.

Could someone give me an answer with sources?

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I'm not an expert but I've been quite interested in this subject since finger's tendon strength is quite a choking point in rock climbing progress (for me at least).

I came across this study trying to answer this question, which reached a few conclusions as how to maximize tendons' strength.

In short, the best way to improve tendon strength would be short training (<10 min) separated by at least 6 hours of rest. The study suggests that even partial ROM and/or lightweight works, and that longer sessions doesn't translate to a better strengthening signal.

I'm not sure how authoritative it is (once again, not an expert), but it's a peer reviewed article that should at least get you started.

Here are the study's conclusion:

From the background provided above, a series of recom- mendations can be developed to maximize performance, decrease the risk of tendon/ligament injury, and/or accel- erate return to play.

• Consider incorporating a connective tissue health session into training. This type of session would involve \10 min of activity targeted to a tendon/ligament that is prone to injury. For example, runners would do a session to target the hamstrings and patellar and Achilles tendons, whereas baseball players would target the throwing arm. These exercises could be performed with a light weight and using a limited range of motion if necessary. The connective tissue health session should be performed either 6 h before or after any other training.

• Following injury, athletes should begin training as soon as possible. Training can consist of simple range-of- Lessons from Engineered Ligaments S9 123 motion and limited weight supported exercises because the amplitude of the load is not important for stimu- lating collagen production [25]. The training should again consist of \10 min of activity followed by 6 h of rest. Reasonably, this means that the athlete will train for three short periods each day.

• Consume leucine-rich protein as part of training. Beyond the direct effects this will have on muscle [47], tendons will also benefit from the added muscle mass and strength and possibly a greater mTORC1 activation [15].

• Glucose uptake into tendons increases during exercise [48]. However, because blood flow to inactive tendons is limited, nutrient delivery to tendons following exercise is believed to be relatively low. This suggests that any nutritional intervention that is designed to directly target a specific tendon/ligament needs to be in place prior to exercise.

• Thirty to sixty minutes before training, athletes should be encouraged to consume 15 g of gelatin in either a liquid or gel form [46]. The exact amount of gelatin and whether this will vary with body weight is currently being determined.

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    The limitation to note here is that this seems to be applicable in a rehab context only. A healthy individual actually trying to generally strength train wouldn’t be doing anything like this.
    – Thomas Markov
    Commented Oct 5, 2023 at 13:57
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    The limitation to note here is that this was a study of some engineered, ligament-like material in a petri-dish, and there's no guarantee at all this it would behave the same as an in-vivo tendon! Commented Oct 5, 2023 at 23:27

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