Fake Muscles

It's hard to make a man out of him.

Sometimes a hard and strenuous workout isn't worth the effort to get muscles, or the character just isn't that well-built. So the next best alternative is getting fake muscles for show, usually by stuffing a large amount of something inside one's shirt, or simply wearing a muscular suit. Just be careful in not actually doing anything that requires great strength.

Compare Fake Boobs. See also Muscles Are Meaningless.


Film - Animation
  • Mulan: During "A Girl Worth Fighting For", Ling strides out a river proudly displaying enormous new muscles... until the water drains out of his clothes and he's back to his skinny self.

Film - Live Action
  • Napoleon Dynamite: During one of Kip and Uncle Rico's lunch talks, Uncle Rico sits with his arms crossed, but is noticeably using his fists to push up his biceps.
  • Meet the Spartans, being a parody of 300, has most of the actors playing the Spartans have obviously painted-on six-packs, Kevin Sorbo being the exception (being Hercules helps).

Live-Action TV
  • In Arrested Development, George Michael obtains a muscle suit to portray Adam in the Michelangelo painting The Creation of Adam. He winds up using it to impress his crush, Maeby.
  • Mythbusters: host Adam Savage sometimes wears a set of fake foam muscles for laughs.

Newspaper Comics
  • Robotman And Monty: Monty once tried wearing the male equivalent of a corset, the "Thorset", which pushed his love handles upward so they looked like lats.

Professional Wrestling

Video Games
  • In Space Quest 6, during a parody of an Insignia Rip-Off Ritual, Roger Wilco is stripped not only of his insignia, but also his uniform and the fake "ripped muscles" suit he's wearing under the uniform (which reveals he's actually much scrawnier underneath).

Web Animation
  • One episode of the Strong Bad Emails at Homestar Runner had him draw a fake six-pack on his round little body with a sharpie. He pitches the concept as if it were an exercise or workout device with which to get rippled abs.

Western Animation
  • In the Classic Disney Short "The Art of Self Defense", Goofy enters a gym sporting a Top-Heavy Guy figure, until he takes off all the robes and towels he's wearing, revealing himself to be as lanky as ever.
  • On the Tom and Jerry cartoon "Muscle Beach Tom", Tom sticks balloons under his bathing suit to make himself look muscular. Because the balloons keep lifting him up, he had to tie an anchor to his waist to keep from floating away. Jerry gives him away by inflating the balloons further until they pop and Tom goes flying all over the place.
  • In one Pink Panther cartoon, Pink puts on an inflatable muscle suit to outdo a bodybuilder.
  • In an episode of The Itchy & Scratchy Show, Scratchy really does get pumped up by lifting weights but Itchy thinks he's just pulling this. Itchy pokes Scratchy with a pin, expecting his balloon muscles to explode.
  • In The Ren & Stimpy Show, in a parody of the old Charles Atlas "The Insult that Made a Man out of Mac" ads, Stimpy is humiliated at a beach, and is convinced by an Atlas stand-in (with a globe for a head!) not to exercise and get stronger, but to get a body fat transplant that looks like muscles.
  • Sponge Bob Square Pants: SpongeBob obtains Anchor Arms to impress Sandy, though said arms prevent him from doing something simple as lifting a cup. By the end of the episode, his charade fails after failing to lift a heavy weight.
  • X-Men: Evolution had an episode where Kurt tries to tweak his holoprojector to make himself appear muscular. It works for a while... then it malfunctions.
  • In the Samurai Jack episode "Samurai versus Samurai", a supposed Bad Ass turns out to be wearing padding and a corset to look fitter than he really is.
  • Andy's stitch-job on Woody's arm in Toy Story 2 has this effect.
  • The Tiny Toon Adventures episode "The Buster Bunny Bunch" has a short called "Buffed Bunny" in which Buster tries to impress Babs (who he thought was looking at a picture of a gymnasium, though it turned out she was looking at a carrot cake billboard) uses this at one point while trying to bulk up. One segment ended up as a bumper for reruns on The Hub.
  • In "Super Sunil" from Littlest Pet Shop (2012), Sunil imagines himself as a superhero after donning a suit Blythe made for him. One Imagine Spot has him cornering a robber while showing off his muscles in a threatening manner. The thief drops the loots and runs away, and it is revealed Sunil was simply standing behind a fake, more muscular version of his suit.
  • Similar to the Tom and Jerry example, Dick Van Dyke stuffs his leotard with balloons for his strongman act at the deserted carnival in his episode of The New Scooby-Doo Movies. The balloons don't make him float away, but they all burst at an inopportune moment.
  • In "The Zero Hero" from The Little Rascals, this is Captain Muscles' undoing when he and Darla encounter the bank robbers, one of whom deflates his costume.
    Spanky: Just as I thought! Captain Muscles is just a skinny old guy in a blown-up costume!
    Porky: Poor Darla!

Real Life
  • Make-up artists can make actors appear more muscular by creating the illusion of more muscle definition.
  • There's a so-called "real-life Ken" whose muscles are implants. He actually has little to no upper-body strength.
  • Synthol injections. To give a basic idea, some bodybuilders tend to cheat, not with steroids, but with oils and fats into their muscles in order to make them appear larger than they actually are. This can make the muscles appear bigger... but also look like water balloons under the skin. Especially if the injected area ruptures.