Can Bulking Up Affect Your Tattoos?

John Dietrich

Got ink and looking to bulk up? Drastically changing your weight could potentially have an impact on the look of your tattoos. Will they stretch? Will they look distorted and unrecognizable? We wanted to look into it to find out for sure whether or not adding muscle and getting bigger can change your ink.

The short answer is that it definitely could, but there’s more to it than a simple yes or no answer can provide. There’s a lot conflicting info out there about this subject, so we went straight to the source and asked some tattoo artists.

Generally, gaining smaller amounts of muscle or weight won’t change your tattoos at all. Anywhere under 20lbs of muscle change shouldn’t show a difference, because your skin will adjust with the muscle gain. This is especially true if you put the weight or muscle on slowly, and not all at once.

Fast, substantial muscle gain, on the other hand, will likely cause visual changes in your body art. You could get stretch marks that go through your tattoos, stretch our your tattoos and distort the image. Jordan, 28, a fitness enthusiast from St. Catherines, ON, says, “unless someone jacks up a ton all at once, there’s no way any tattoo would stretch and get distorted….and that would be the least of their problems at that point”.

The best way to bulk up and guarantee that you won’t see changes in your ink is to do it slowly. Give your skin time to change its elasticity and grow with your muscles if you want to guarantee your tattoo won’t stretch or change at all.

Bulking Up Your Arms

Sleeve on a muscular man

Your arms are the most susceptible to muscle change, and they’re one of the main parts of your body that you’re likely going to focus on building up. If you have ink on your arms, here’s the low-down on how adding muscle could change those tattoos.

Sleeves

Whether or not a tattoo is going to be affected on a sleeve fully depends on what part of your arm that sleeve is on. Your upper and forearms are built differently, and they show muscle definition differently as well. But does that change how your tattoo looks? Let’s break it down.

Upper Arm

Napoleon Dynamite Meme

This is one area where you might see some change to your tattoo, and that would be in the form of stretch marks. When skin expands quicker than it can grow, you get stretch marks. That’s not a risk for all parts of your body, and it’s not a risk for everyone; some people are more susceptible to them than others.

In your arms, stretch marks tend to radiate out from the armpit, so the closer your upper arm sleeve is the your underarms, the more susceptible it will be these marks. However, your tattoo could end up hiding those marks, which would be a win.

Forearm

If you’re worried about your arms changing because you are planning on adding a significant increase in the circumference of your biceps, then the forearms are the way to go. There’s less muscle, and it’s a smaller area, so the odds of your tattoo getting stretched or changed are slim to none.

Bulking Up Your Legs

Leg Tattoo on a muscular man

Legs are another spot where you might encounter minimal changes to the appearance of your ink, and again, that would more than likely be from stretch marks. Jordan explains that when you’re bulking up in the lower body area “you get stretch marks on your upper legs more than anywhere else”.

It’s tough for most guys to gain a lot of muscle on their legs to begin with, so adding enough muscle to stretch your skin fast enough that it can’t keep up isn’t likely to happen.

Bulking Up Your Back

via GIPHY

Your back is practically all muscle, so you would think that there would be big changes to ink work that’s back there, but you’d be wrong! The back doesn’t tend to get a bulky as other parts of your body (like the arms), and you can’t really add too much girth to it. You’ll add some muscle, but mostly you’ll be toning the area, so your muscle gain will have zero effect on your back ink.

Bulking Up Your Chest

Muscle Man with a Chest Tattoo

You aren’t likely to see any changes at all if you get a chest tattoo while you’re gaining muscle. Canadian tattoo artist Dylan Duke says that he “wouldn’t worry about it unless you plan on packing on over 20lbs of muscle”. If you aren’t entering into any bodybuilding competitions in the future, this probably isn’t your end goal anyway.

Remember, your skin changes over time regardless of whether or not you have any tattoos, and it’s equipped to handle muscle growth naturally. At the end of the day, unless you’re packing on a significant amounts of muscle in a not-so-healthy way very rapidly, your tattoos shouldn’t see any change whatsoever.

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