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Growing Muscles Sequence

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A sub-trope of Transformation Sequence where an increase of muscle mass and definition is prominent. It can be used by a character transforming to his superpowered form, as well as a visual indicator of a Super Mode activating. In either case, those subjected to it are generally expected to possess Super Strength.

The sequence usually consists of close-up shots of various muscle groups, most commonly the biceps, chest, and back, growing and becoming more defined. As a result, expect Clothing Damage (with the exception of Magic Pants). The transformation doesn't have to be limited to changes in musculature; for example, a villain can have Spikes of Villainy popping up along the spine of his expanding back. Bulking up is also unexpectedly common in modern werewolf transformations, despite the wolf being an animal generally regarded as lean rather than massive.


Depending on the character and the setting, a Growing Muscles Sequence can be voluntary or involuntary, range from painless to painful to a Body Horror and its end result can run the gamut from having a Heroic Build to being The Grotesque.

Compare Shapeshifting, One-Winged Angel, and Hulking Out. See also Shapeshifter Baggage, Temporary Bulk Change, and With Great Power Comes Great Hotness. Commonly fetish material.



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  • A Geico ad has two skinny bros talking about insurance while doing curls. With every cut, one of them starts becoming more and more buff till he's just bulging.

    Anime & Manga 
  • Used all the time with various kinds of Super Modes in Dragon Ball.
    • In Dragon Ball, King Piccolo and Piccolo Jr. are capable of doing this at will along with growing to the size of buildings, but the latter in particular stopped doing this in Dragon Ball Z seemingly because the power increase wasn't worth becoming a massive target.
    • Whenever Zarbon assumes his true form, the transformation sequence will noticeably focus on his slim limbs bulking up with muscle like balloons.
    • When Frieza first unleashed his 100% Full Power form to fight Super Saiyan Goku on Namek, his body bulked up from Lean and Mean to beefier than Goku himself (and Goku had gotten a muscle mass increase from his own transformation to boot) and to the point it looked like his skin was barely able to contain his muscles. Curiously, when he did so again when he arrived on Earth in Resurrection F there was no visible muscle increase, implying his training to maximize his power naturally took away the need for it. Nonetheless, as revealed in the Universe Survival Saga, Frieza can still bulk up his muscles if he wants to.
    • A rare female example comes from Dragon Ball Super with Kale, a Shrinking Violet Universe 6 Saiyan who goes from a normal-looking slim young girl to the female version of Broly.
    • Played with with the Super Sayian Grade 3 transformation. It increases the user's power by an incredible amount, but as Future Trunks learns when fighting Semi-Perfect Cell, all the extra muscle mass that the form comes with cripples the user's speed, making it completely useless; all the strength in the world doesn't mean squat if you can't hit your opponent.
  • Kenshiro from Fist of the North Star. Whenever he's about to use Hokuto Shinken, he rips up his shirt and makes his jacket slide off his shoulders by sheer muscle expansion while his pants remain unharmed, which essentially makes him the Japanese Hulk.
  • Done in Hunter × Hunter when apparently 12-year old Biscuit Krueger goes from looking a cute schoolgirl to being 10' tall and incredibly ripped.
  • Happens to Akane in Danganronpa 3: The End of Hope's Peak High School after trying Teruteru's "Doping Corn Soup" to help her win a sparring match, the sequence in question ending in a Shout-Out to Gon's transformation in Hunter × Hunter.
  • Kid Muscle from Ultimate Muscle.
  • In Pokémon, Sawk goes through this when he uses Bulk Up, a move that increases his attack and defense.
  • Kotetsu from Tiger & Bunny, though it turns out it's a cosmetic feature of his original super suit.
  • Younger Toguro from Yu Yu Hakusho goes through this every time he unleashes a percentage of his full power, assuming ever more ridiculously bulked up forms during the course of the series. A less prominent example from the same series is Byakko, who grows as he absorbs the blows of his opponents, which turns out to be his undoing.
  • In Bleach, Ggio Vega and Poww do this when they decide to unleash their full power. Later on, fullbring forces a yakuza trapped inside a weaponised plushie to go through one of these.
  • Aisha Clan-Clan in Outlaw Star can transform into a more muscular version of herself under a full moon. (And then further into a non-anthropomorphic panther creature.) It's not really apparent if Aisha's muscling up is supposed to be something that's literally happening or just an indication that she's switched from "silly" to "serious", since she always has Super Strength.
  • Sandra Guts from Dirty Pair does this to herself with her own formula called 'Hustle.'
  • The Eclipse Driver Marty of Magical Record Lyrical Nanoha Force has this as his viralizing ability. He could grow his muscles to increase his strength and toughness, to the point where he becomes immune to physical attacks like bullets. So Arnage switches weapons and pulls out a Wave-Motion Tuning Fork.
  • Downplayed in Toriko; when The Hero, Toriko, powers up for his signature move, the Kugi Punch, he pumps his right arm up and down, making its muscles bigger and bigger, while the rest of his body retains the same muscle mass.
  • Ichiya from Fairy Tail, whenever he uses his Power Perfume. Laxus did it once when he first showed off his Lightning Dragon Slayer magic, though subsequent uses lack this, and Cobra performs a downplayed version in that only his arms and hands get larger and draconic from activating his Poison Dragon Slayer Magic.
  • This is the villain Muscular's Quirk in My Hero Academia. It quickly enters Body Horror territory because his muscles grow so large and powerful that his skin can't contain them.
  • Every time Machio from How Heavy Are the Dumbbells You Lift? flexes, his body swells up with so much muscle that he promptly explodes out of his tracksuit and towers over everyone else.
  • Michiru's "gorilla arms" form in BNA: Brand New Animal temporarily gives one or both of her arms massive veiny muscles.

    Comic Books 
  • The Hulk in all his incarnations. He is, after all, the Trope Namer of the related trope Hulking Out.
  • In The New Universe, David Landers of D.P. 7 goes through quite painful transformations when he grows muscles, which he has to sustain by being a Big Eater.
  • Patriot of Young Avengers, in the storyline where it's revealed he takes Mutant Growth Hormone. He injects himself with too much, and grows to the size of a truck.
  • Some Marshal Law superheroes "pump ions" to bulk up.
  • This happens to Caitlin Fairchild in the first issue of Gen¹³. She goes from short and slender and mousy to tall, ripped and stacked once her powers activate.
  • In his first appearance, Nightwing villain Blockbuster has one of these, turning him into a giant, deformed monster. Unlike most examples, the effect is permanent.
  • Notably averted by Bane in his comic book appearances: Venom makes him veiny, but he stays pretty much the same size (although sometimes his muscles do bulge ever-so-slightly when he takes a dose, as seen when he prepares to fight Batman in Knightfall). Most adaptations play the trope straight, though, and he's bulked up considerably in the New 52.
  • Wonder Woman (1987): Thomas Randolph (White Magician) was already in the process of growing far more muscles than his human frame had room for when he decided to feed on the life of the two women in the house with him to become truly monstrous.

    Fan Works 
  • In From Muddy Waters, Izuku's strength enhancement Quirks tend to increase his muscle mass at the same time. He usually focuses this into his arms and legs, which can grow considerably from noticeably more defined, to obviously bulkier, to downright grotesque in a manner that reminds All Might of Izuku's father, All For One.


  • Feruchemists in the Mistborn series are able to store physical strength over time to be called on later. When tapping strength, a Feruchemist's body changes into a form capable of handling the increased power.

    Live-Action TV 

    Video Games 
  • Altered Beast has your character undergo two such transformations for the first two Power Ups he collects in a stage. His transformation into a beast once they pick up the third also has elements of this.
  • Batman: Arkham Asylum has this happen to a depowered Bane and some of Joker's goons when they get injected with "Titan", a derivative of the Venom normally used by Bane. It almost happens to Batman when he takes the bullet for Commissioner Gordon, but he's able to resist the transformation until he takes an antidote. The Joker, on the other hand...
  • Rick undergoes a pretty gruesome one in the opening cutscene of the updated Splatterhouse.
    Terror Mask: Aw, quit whining. Did I say it was gonna be fun?
  • Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney – Dual Destinies: The DLC case includes a scene like this when you start closing in on the culprit. Apparently, fish-barrel water buffs you up like nothing else.
  • The Bleeding Hollow clan from World of Warcraft uses a Blood Magic ritual to invoke this on their berserkers, turning them into massive, hulking orcs. Ariok voluntarily undergoes this same ritual in order to buy the player and their allies enough time to escape the clan during the intro for Warlords of Draenor . He ends up becoming even more massive than said hulking orcs in the process.
    • The Blood Curse that the orcs took from Mannoroth in the earlier games also increased their body mass, but to a much lesser extent than the mentioned blood ritual.
  • In Kirby Star Allies, this happens to King Dedede of all characters due to the influence of a Jamba Heart, complete with close-ups on his newly obtained biceps and pecs.
  • A staple of the Resident Evil franchise. While the T-Virus doesn't seem to provoke this effect, other, faster-acting or more prone to physical mutation ones like the G-Virus or T-Veronica virus tend to do this.
  • Casting the Atlas alchemy spell in Secret of Evermore briefly shows the Boy swell up into a herculean state almost four times bigger than his normal self.

    Visual Novels 
  • In Naked Butler, Mizoguchi Toyoharu, a 56-year-old man, does this to rip through ropes and his own shirt. Yes, it's every bit as crazy and hilarious as it sounds.

    Web Animation 
  • Hazel Rainart, one of the direct servants of the Big Bad in RWBY reveals this talent in Volume 5. By stabbing raw crystals of electric Dust into his upper arms, Hazel's arms noticeably swell with his veins protruding. He also gains some slight electrical powers from this enhancement, making him a literal example of a Lightning Bruiser.


    Western Animation 
  • Done in a number of werewolf transformations in animation. Apparently the "were" in "werewolf" is the Anglo-Saxon for "bodybuilder".
  • Bane in Batman: The Animated Series and The Batman.
    • Another example from The Batman; this happens to Joker in the episode “Brawn” when he steals Bane’s Venom equipment and uses it on himself.
  • Ben 10: Vilgax in the early seasons had Cybernetic Spikes of Villainy that did this.
  • Raimundo from Xiaolin Showdown had this issue when the Shen Gong Wu kept magnetically pulling towards him, making him increasingly more powerful to the point he was virtually invincible, with Wuya attempting to use him as a vessel for her to defeat the monks.
  • One of the effects of the Super Soldier Serum that created Captain America.
  • He-Man and the Masters of the Universe (1983): Prince Adam's transformation to He-Man usually doesn't involve this, despite the former being an ordinary Eternian and the latter "the most powerful man in the universe". In the first series, this was because He-Man is pretty much Prince Adam with a tan and less clothes on. In the 2002 series a sequence is used for a few episodes in the second season, until He-Man gets his armor.
  • Justice League Unlimited in the episode "The Patriot Act" after a mad general steals super soldier serum and injects himself.
  • A couple of Timmy's wishes in The Fairly OddParents resulted in this.
  • Billy turning back into Ganthar in Martin Mystery.
  • In each episode of The Miniavengers, a kid will pass through a momentary but incredibly exaggerated sequence before getting their superpower, temporarily ending up dozens of times the size of the earth.
  • Popeye, every time he eats his spinach. The change is brief and usually located in the (already abnormally muscular) forearms, sometimes with a superimposed image of a battleship, a cannon, a high-powered turbine or similar imagery.
  • Munya from The Secret Saturdays.
  • The Simpsons:
    • Bart has an Imagine Spot where he's a professional human guinea pig. He takes one sip of Nature's Goodness soda and turns into a deformed monster.
    • In "Itchy & Scratchy Land", the opening Itchy & Scratchy sketch has Scratchy lift weights for a few seconds which makes his muscles grow big instantly.
  • Super Duper Sumos is a rare case where the characters are already bulky; what they are gaining in the transformation is definition.
  • The Totally Spies! episode "The Incredible Bulk" featured a plot involving power bars that would cause anyone who ate them to go through a series of such transformations until they would finally explode.
  • Prime and Hardcase from Ultraforce. For the former, it's a standard transformation sequence, for the latter a permanent change.
  • Happens to Jade from Jackie Chan Adventures in the episode "The Amazing T-Troop" when she uses the ox talisman. Interestingly, while the ox talisman does grant the user the power of super strength, this is the only occurrence where this trope is applied.
  • A sequence depicting this happening is often played when Kaeloo transforms into Bad Kaeloo. The most attention is paid to her buttocks.
  • My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic: In "Power Ponies", resident Shrinking Violet Fluttershy becomes the Incredible Hulk-esque "Saddle Rager" in the comic book world. She doesn't actually get mad enough to use her new powers until she witnesses horrific cruelty towards an innocent firefly, whereupon she Hulks Out and smashes the culprit's hairspray cannon to pieces. Fluttershy's Hulk form is rife with bulging muscles, even featuring male pecs.
  • The Crusher from the Bugs Bunny cartoon "Bunny Hugged." Even his muscles have muscles.
  • Powerful Pierre in the Heckle and Jeckle cartoon "Log Rollers" flexes his muscles on his arm, his pinky finger, his tongue, his ears and finally his eyelash.
  • The SpongeBob SquarePants episode "Karate Island" has two of these as Sandy and the episode's antagonist Master Udon prepare for their battle. This even has Master Udon's eyebrows and Sandy's tail flexing into the shape of muscular arms. This is just for show, their figures are back to normal when their battle begins, both of them missing their opening charge.
  • One Kim Possible episode, "Ron the Man", practically centered around this trope. When Dr. Drakken gets jealous of Professor Dementor's superior henchmen, he steals rings that can make a person more muscular in order to enhance his men. Ron ends up stealing a ring himself to make himself beefier so as to be seen as a man, and he later gives that ring to Rufus, who buffs himself up to make Drakken surrender.
    • There's even a scene earlier in the episode where the CEO of HenchCo shows Kim and Ron an instructional video for the muscle enhancing ring, depicting a man in a swimsuit, who looks similar in appearance to Ron, putting on the ring and twisting it to activate it, before turning into a massive bodybuilder and performing a most muscular flex in celebration of his new physique.
  • The Bananaman cartoon showed Little Eric swelling with muscles during his transformation. This was backported into the comic strip, which had previously represented the transformation with an explosion panel.


Video Example(s):



Mark Beaks uses Gandra Dee's nanite tech and serum to make himself more powerful than Gizmoduck. Unfortunately, he drank way too much serum.

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