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.
- Ghi Bree from To Love-Ru looks like a muscle-bound monster but he turns out he is not.
- 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).
- Mad Max: Fury Road: Immortan Joe's clear plastic armor molds his sexaganarian gut into a six-pack. Even if he wasn't an old man, he's also dying of cancer.
- Discussed in Aztec. Blood Glutton insists on buying slaves himself for the group's trade voyage, because some slave traders stuffed wax under the chest of male and female slaves (resulting in impressive pectorals or the appearance of breasts, although the latter melted and drooped on a hot day).
- 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.
- In Modern Family, Mitchell wears a Spiderman costume to work on Halloween, with his suit overtop, leading his boss to comment about his muscles.
- Facing a possible Alien Invasion, The Goodies decide to scare them off by convincing the aliens that humanity is a race of supermen. Cue the Goodies dressing up in superhero tights and inflating their biceps with bike pumps.
- 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.
- WWE wrestler "Giant Gonzalez" had a bodysuit with muscles drawn on.◊ It probably looked a lot better/less fake from a distance, but yeah.
- Mr. Main Event wears a sleeveless shirt the same color as his skin with an ultra muscular design.(well sort of, he has a farmers tan so parts of him are much less pale)
- Rob Van Dam had fake muscles drawn on his singlet while he was TNA World Heavyweight Champion. Van Dam was an athletic man anyway, so it's not as if he had to convince anyone he was really muscular.
- Rik Roberts, the biggest thing in Florida Wrestling, has abdominal lines drawn on his gut to make it look like an eight pack, which he just might have underneath his fat.
- 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).
- In the trailer for Dead Island 2, the jogger's biceps are revealed to be implants when his infection turns him into a zombie and his decaying flesh and skin can't keep the implant in one of his arms in place. His wig also falls off and the skin on his nose falls off revealing he's had a nose job.
- In the ''Strong Bad Email" "suntan", Strong Bad draws a fake six-pack on his round little body with a sharpie to show off how his "tan" accentuates his "abs". He pitches the concept as if it were an exercise or workout device, the "Ab-Abber 2000".
- 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.
- In the Tom and Jerry cartoon "Muscle Beach Tom", Tom stuffed helium balloons into his bathing suit to look muscular. Because the balloons made him float, he tied an anchor to his waist. Tom won his girlfriend back from Butch, but Jerry gave him away by untying the anchor, inflating his suit into a balloon and pricking it, sending Tom floating away into the sky.
- In one The Pink Panther cartoon, Pink puts on an inflatable muscle suit to outdo a bodybuilder.
- Parodied in an episode of The Itchy & Scratchy Show on The Simpsons, where Scratchy bulks himself up at the gym, and shows off against Itchy. Itchy attempts to pop his muscles with a nail like you'd see if the muscles were fake, but doesn't work since these are real. The solution? Itchy stings him with the nail several dozen times, causing Scratchy to become woozy from blood loss.
- The Ren & Stimpy Show: In "Ren's Pecs" in a parody of the old Charles Atlas "The Insult that Made a Man out of Mac" ads, Ren is humiliated at a beach, and is convinced by Atlas stand-in Charles Globe not to exercise and get stronger, but to get a body fat transplant that looks like muscles.
- SpongeBob SquarePants: SpongeBob obtains a pair of inflatable "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 (making him comically fat).
Spyke: You should lay off those cheeseburgers.
- In the Samurai Jack episode "Samurai versus Samurai", Jack inflicts Clothing Damage on a Miles Gloriosus calling himself the Sam-Moo-Rhai, revealing that he was wearing padding and a corset to look fitter than he really is.
- The Tiny Toon Adventures episode "The Buster Bunny Bunch" has a short called "Buffed Bunny" in which Buster, trying 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: Captain Muscles is just a skinny old guy in a blown-up costume!Porky: Poor Darla!
- Celebrity Deathmatch had an episode where Fabio, Bono and Yoko Ono participated in a threeway battle. After Fabio killed Bono, Yoko ended up revealing that not only was Fabio nearly bald and wore a hairpiece, his impressive model physique was just a bodysuit, underneath he's scrawny with a paunch. However, Fabio still ended up winning when he crushed Yoko in an extendable sofa bed while she was too busy laughing at him.
- Wabbit: A Looney Tunes Production featured this in "Bugs of Steel," where Rock Hardcase's big buff body turned out to be an inflatable body suit that gets punctured and deflated by Squeaks the Squirrel, revealing Rock is a puny weakling.
- 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.
- There are companies that make very realistic muscle suits for costumers and cosplayers.
- Used in X-Men Origins: Wolverine to create Frank Dukes' muscular build at the beginning of the movie. No point in paying a guy to bulk up for a few minutes of screen time when you're only going to have him in a fat suit later.