T Nation

Question About Muscle Increase


Lately I have started to look a bit thicker around the legs arms and back (which is good, but i still consider myself skinny overall), however when I take any measurements flexed I seem to be pretty much the same size I was before.

I realize that this could potentially just be me imagining things, but others have said it too, however this is not supported by the tape measure.

It brings me to the question, is it possible through weight training for your muscles to significantly increase in size whilst relaxed, but at the same time they only increase to a very small amount whilst flexed? I guess a way to reword the question is "is it possible to get bigger overall when you're cold -not pumped/flexed- but this does not tranfer into being bigger when pumped/flexed?"

I am also fairly sure it is not from fat gain because i have actually lost 2LBS of weight recently but people still tell me i look bigger.

No need for flaming, I am not claiming to be big or impressive in any way I just have a newbie question that I thought i would share. Opinions appreciated.


it's been a while since you've posted. good to see that you're seeing gains. it's quite possible that you lost fat and gained muscle at the same time, maybe leading to no change overall for now, until you put more muscle on.

how have your lifts progressed?


Some peoples muscle get bigger when they flex than other peoples. Arnold always had that quality, he was impressive relaxed obviously, but then just BLEW UP when he flexed. You might not have quite as much "growth" when you flex, nothing to worry about. Just work on getting more muscular and it will come.

Its also possible you just lost some fat but didnt gain any muscle, this will certainly create the illusion of being more muscular, and will draw the kind of comments you are talking about. In general, people respond more to leanness than they do to size. Meaning that if you lose fat but dont gain muscle, people will comment on how muscular you are getting, rather than the fat you are losing.

Keep at it brother, it sound like you are on the right track for now.


I am not going to tell you what I think this could be but I will walk you through the facts as you wrote them.

You can gain two tissues while eating at a caloric surplus.
One can be flexed and the other can not be flexed.

Yeah you can get bigger overall and not be able to flex the new tissue. See above^

One of the two tissues I mentioned above is denser than the other.
This would give the illusion of becoming bigger while losing weight.

So without giving my opinion, which tissue do you think you gained since it would explain all of your observations?

Tissue Most Likely Responsible:
A.[ ] Muscle
B.[ ] Fat
C.[ ] Water
D.[ ] A walnut
E.[ ] Both A & B
F.[ ] None of the above


my lifts are going up for sure.
my biggest improvement is in deadlifting, by pinpointing that my hamstrings were the weak point in my deadlift, and doing some exercises to strengthen them i have managed to add 20kg to my 1RM
appreciate the interest man!

after reading the posts i think maybe the observations in the OP have been caused by my exam period. lately i've been spending 8+ hours a day in the library and taking small protein dense meals with me from home. essentially i haven't been eating as much as i normally do because i'm focusing on school, so i'm just trying to keep protein high so i dont lose muscle. this could have led to me being in a cutting phase without even knowing it.

Sidenote to anyone who wants to flame me: im not saying its impossible to eat as much as i did while still prioritizing school im just saying that i have chosen not to because i find it difficult to juggle both. I will resume eating like a horse when my exams/ coursework finish in approx 4 weeks.

thanks to everyone who posted


Just a heads up...but the types of guys who quit training when exams come up are not likely to end up being the type of guys who make serious progress long term.

It's your life. Make your own priorities.

Just don't get mad when you don't see the same progress as those who will put the time in.

Finals never kept me out the gym...and trust me, unless you are speaking of tests on the level of grad school board exams, if college level studying is keeping you out the gym, good luck keeping it up when real life hits you upside the head.


please re-read the paragraph stating with "sidenote..." it was included for people like you.
i pretty much said im not making excuses and it was a personal choice.
i hinted that i was accepting responsibility completely. thx.


I didn't miss what you wrote. I simply stated guys like you focus on the wrong things...which will ultimately lead to less progress.

Your whole life is personal choice....but I would still tell the guy who parties until 3am every night that he likely won't make it to med school.

That doesn't mean the statement is wrong.