How Do Bodybuilders Achieve Their Paper Thin Skin?

One of the attributes making modern bodybuilders extra freaky is their transparent, paper-thin skin. To comprehend how thin it is, pull the skin at the back of your palm. Now imagine having your entire body covered by skin that thin. Crazy, right? Yet this is how most professional bodybuilders look prior to a contest. Today, I will tell you how the pros achieve this effect.

Frank McGrath showing his paper thin skin; image source: drwannabe.tumblr.com;

IFBB Pro Frank McGrath showing his paper thin skin; image source: drwannabe.tumblr.com;

1. Low body fat levels

You can’t win a bodybuilding contest unless you are shredded. The standard body fat for a male bodybuilder ready for a competition is about 5-8%. If you are any fatter than that, you will lose many points.

Low body fat is achieved through dieting. We won’t go into details which diet is the best since this is a very controversial topic. Whatever the case is, however, your diet will have to put you in a strict caloric deficit.


Unfortunately, dieting is not enough to acquire the transparent skin of a modern bodybuilder. Bodybuilders rely heavily on drugs, which allow them to lose body fat quickly and preserve their muscle mass during dieting.

2. Anabolic Steroids & Growth Hormone

Believe it or not, drugs have an impact even on the skin. There are different steroids that can make your skin feel, look and taste like silk. If you were to observe a drugged bodybuilder, you will notice that their envelope {skin} looks different and has a 3D eye-popping effect.

Bodybuilders on drugs also use Thyroid hormones (T3 and T4), clenbuterol and dangerous substances such as DNP in order to reach a low body fat level. Abuse of similar drugs can result in serious injuries and even death.

3. Diuretics

To enhance their definition even further, bodybuilders lose water weight prior to competitions. Of course, they do it with the use of dangerous substances known as diuretics which can cause sudden death as in the case of the legendary IFBB Pro Mohammed Benaziza. Truth be told, diuretics are often more dangerous than steroids.

4. Manipulation of sodium levels

An excessive amount of sodium can cause water retention under the skin which can mask the muscular definition of a competitor. That’s why bodybuilders keep their sodium levels in check prior to a contest.

5. Water Manipulation

When your water intake is low, the body tends to store more fluids for survival needs. To fix that bodybuilders consume large quantities of water and cut all intake prior to a contest in order to enter a dehydrated state and increase their muscular definition. (Extra water masks muscular definition.)

6. Tanning and oils 

Prior to a contest bodybuilders tan and cover themselves in body oil. Again, the goal is to enhance the muscular definition of their bodies even further.

7. The genetic factor

Some people are born with a naturally thinner skin – a gift for bodybuilding. At the same time, there are individuals who have really thick skin and even with all the tricks in the book they can’t match their rivals.

Of course, drugs act as an equalizer. A good example would be Dorian Yates who in his initial years as a bodybuilder had a thicker skin working against him. As the years went by, Dorian became known as one of the most conditioned freaks out there. It goes without saying that the main reason weren’t sodium manipulations.

Can natural bodybuilders attain the paper thin skin look?

Naturals can become very lean but look too fragile at ultra-low body fat levels because they don’t carry as much muscle mass as a bodybuilder on steroids. The natural potential is just not that high.

If you have low body fat levels, your skin will look thin no matter what. However, reaching an insane transparency as a natural is unrealistic.

10 comments

  1. Suman Ghosh

    sir,
    I’m not so bulked. but my belly skin is too much thick that I can’t achieve my abs yet. What special should I do.

    1. Ilma

      You are not bulky indeed but your body fat levels are high
      And men usually have belly fat more compared to women as they have around legs and butt usually
      You should do high intensity cardio along with strength training and some functional training, just targeting abs won’t make any difference fat goes from the entire body

      P.s.
      I am a girl and into fitness from the past 4 years
      A certified fitness professional from california

    1. Ilma

      Don’t be un natural in any way
      Just eat right, nutrition is the key
      Eat right 6days a week and workout like a beast enjoy the 7th day of the week,don’t torture yourself.. Atleast that is how i have achieved and being an indian girl i have a six pack

    1. Ilma

      If you have lost your weight and you are skinny doesn’t mean you have muscle mass try lifting more and training with heavier weights so that your muscles get some definition and start popping up

      1. lucky

        Hey there…can I get your insta name so that I can be in touch with u for your support..plz..send it to my email.

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