What Is A Sleeper Build? + 4 Expert Tips To Get Your Own!

One of the latest TikTok trends in TikTok fitness videos is the #sleeperbuildbody.

But, what is a sleeper build? What does a sleeper build body look like? How do you get a sleeper build?

In this guide, we will discuss the sleeper build meaning, what sleeper build muscle distribution looks like, the characteristics of a sleeper build body, and tips for how to get a sleeper build body.

More specifically, we will look at: 

  • What Is A Sleeper Build?
  • Where Did the Sleeper Build Trend Come From?
  • What Does a Sleeper Build Body Look Like?
  • How Do You Get a Sleeper Build Body?

Let’s get started!

A think woman with a sleeper build, flexing.

What Is A Sleeper Build?

Over the years, there have been numerous terms to describe various physiques, particularly those that one may attain in the gym.

For example, people use the term “ripped“ to describe someone who has a lot of muscle definition and relatively large muscles overall.

Then, there is “shredded,” which tends to have a similar connotation and generally refers to someone with very little body fat and a muscular physique.

The terms “toned“ and “fit“ have their place in American and UK slang, respectively.

“Swoll“ is a more recent gym term to describe one’s “bod.“

Perhaps the newest lingo to come out of GymTok or TikTok fitness videos is a “sleeper build bod” or “sleeper build body.”

A think person in pink workout clothes.

So, what exactly is the TikTok sleeper build meaning?

Unlike some of these other physique terms to describe a very ripped and muscular physique, the TikTok sleeper build body definition refers to a body build almost the opposite of someone who is “jacked” or “ripped.”

In the case of someone who is jacked or ripped, their large muscle mass and muscle definition are clearly visible even when they are not flexing.

You can see a very strong, muscular, defined physique as they go about their day or when they are wearing gym clothes but not trying to flex or show their muscles.

Essentially, you can easily tell that someone who has a ripped body physique spends a lot of time in the gym lifting weights or working out in some fashion.

In contrast, the sleeper build meaning refers to a body type where the person does not appear to have any notable muscle mass or look particularly strong when they are not flexing. 

A thin person next to a set of dumbbells.

In fact, sleeper build bodies look skinny and weak, as if the person never really works out yet isn’t overweight.

However, once someone with a sleeper build body type flexes, you can see that they indeed work out and have impressive muscle tone and definition in their body.

The TikTok sleeper build body videos tend to take things to another level and exaggerate the sleep or build muscle popping or sleep or build muscle “surprise.”

They do so by having someone with a skinny sleeper build physique dress in super baggy clothes so they look really skinny and unfit and then shed the baggy clothing and give an all-out flex of the arms, abs, and legs—as if posing for a bodybuilding competition—to show off their hidden sleeper build muscle mass.

This sleeper build before and after TikTok trend is meant to exaggerate the difference in appearance when someone with a sleeper body build goes from a relaxed and seemingly skinny and weak physique to a shockingly defined and toned build.

The best TikTok sleep or build videos or the most viral sleeper build TikTok videos tend to be those where the person showing off their sleeper build bod also has a really young-looking face or “baby face.”

This amps up the surprise that you don’t see coming, as you wouldn’t expect someone so young looking and skinny to suddenly flex and sport impressive muscles.

A buff this person.

Where Did the Sleeper Build Trend Come From?

The current sleeper build trend has emerged from TikTok, the popular social media site with short-form videos that cater to all sorts of niches and topics, from dancing to cooking to makeup tutorials and fitness videos.

Things related to fitness on TikTok fall under the category of GymTok videos.

GymTok content tends to involve any sort of video that provides fitness advice, weightlifting tips, workout before and after videos, bodybuilding content, fitness fad testimonials, etc.

The sleeper build term has emerged as a GymTok trend.

However, while we now take the sleeper build meaning in everyday pop culture to refer to the skinny-to-shredded body type when someone with this body type goes from relaxed to flexing their muscles, the sleeper body term actually has its origin in both computer slang and car slang.

Sleeper build computer slang refers to a computer processing unit (CPU) that has a vintage appearance, like an old computer from the 1980s or 1990s, but that actually uses modern CPU components. It is used by computer tinkerers who do DIY computer builds.

Sleeper build car slang has a similar connotation in that it refers to a car with a vintage body that has a modern engine and modern interior design.

A think person in workout clothes.

What Does a Sleeper Build Body Look Like?

As described, a sleeper build GymTok body is one that looks skinny and untoned, as if you never work out yet aren’t overweight, but have sort of a young adolescent look, and then when you flex your muscles, suddenly you have surprisingly impressive muscle tone and definition in your arms, back, chest, abs, glutes, and legs.

You can describe the sleeper build muscles as “hidden“ until the person flexes, and the body of someone with a sleeper build looks weak and thin until they flex.

Again, the best sleeper build TikTok videos, or the most shocking sleeper build before and afters, are those where the person has a baby face so that they look like they would never spend any time in the gym.

Then, when they do flex, and they suddenly look totally shredded, their instantaneous before and after sleeper build flexing change is huge.

How Do You Get a Sleeper Build Body?

There are various things you can do to improve your physique, but not everyone will necessarily have a natural sleeper build body type.

Typically, the best sleeper build bodies are natural ectomorphs, who have a long, lean, slender build without much visible muscle tone.

A think person lifting weights.

That said, here are some tips for how to get a sleeper build body:

#1: Lift Weights

As with any muscular physique type you might be striving for—from swole to sleeper builds—you have to strengthen and build muscle mass to have the visible muscle to actually show off.

The best sleeper build workouts are weightlifting workouts that utilize principles of bodybuilding or hypertrophy workouts.

You need to do enough volume to build muscle. This typically involves performing body parts splits and working out at least four days per week in the gym. 

Focus on compound exercises to build muscle (compound exercises are those that involve multiple joints and muscle groups working together to perform the movement) but also add a few isolation exercises to finish your workout.

Perform three sets with 8 to 12 reps per exercise, using a weight that corresponds to 70 to 85% of your 1RM, maxing out or hitting failure by the last rep of your set.

The sleeper build physique mainly focuses on the arms, chest, back, and abs, so while you should do one leg day per week, emphasize your upper body, chest, back, and core in your sleeper build workout plan.

A thin person holding the large waistband of oversized jeans.

#2: Cut Calories

If you have excess body weight, you will need to follow a weight loss diet, or bodybuilding cutting phase, to decrease your body fat percentage enough so that you can see muscle definition under your subcutaneous fat when you flex.

#3: Eat Enough Protein

Evidence suggests that eating at least 0.3 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight at each meal—aiming for a total of 1.6 – 2.2 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight for the day—is recommended when you are working out and trying to build muscle.

#4: Do Cardio

Aerobic exercise is not only important for health, but it can help you get more shredded and lose extra body fat by burning calories.

Once you have put your time in the gym with bodybuilding workouts and have built muscle and lost excess body fat, you are ready to show off your sleeper build body.

Then, if you want to join in on the #sleeperbody TikTok trend, you will record a curated sleeper build video reveal on TikTok by donning baggy clothes, playing down your age, strength, and gym experience, and then flexing as hard as possible right as the beat to your chosen sleeper build reveal power song drops.

Post your sleeper build bod on TikTok using #sleeperbuild and watch your hard work in the gym and kitchen hopefully go viral!

For a list of compound exercises to try out at the gym, click here.

Two people doing lunges.
Photo of author
Amber Sayer is a Fitness, Nutrition, and Wellness Writer and Editor, as well as a NASM-Certified Nutrition Coach and UESCA-certified running, endurance nutrition, and triathlon coach. She holds two Masters Degrees—one in Exercise Science and one in Prosthetics and Orthotics. As a Certified Personal Trainer and running coach for 12 years, Amber enjoys staying active and helping others do so as well. In her free time, she likes running, cycling, cooking, and tackling any type of puzzle.

Leave a Comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.