How to: cheap upper body muscles (Spidey, etc.)


Well-Known Member
I wanted to get a little more definition in the upper body for my Spidey build. I wanted more of the "lean teenager / acrobat look" rather than the thicker muscle movie look.

Here's a few pics of me, wearing Underarmor. I'm quite slim / lean, but not muscular at all. Just never really been able to do it, but I seem to find costumes that work for my build anyways. :) I'm 5 foot 8, 150 lbs.





Here's what you need:
- tight fitting Underarmor or other compression long sleeve top (this should be one size smaller than you would normally wear. You want it tighter to compress the muscles.
- some 1/2" or 1" foam, depending on how big you want the muscles to be
- foam shoulder pads (available from sewing supply places, commonly used in jackets and womens tops)
- sharp scissors

Here are some shoulder pads I found. Some were only $0.99 or $1.99. I ended up using the 2 on the left. The ones on the right were raglan style and had batting inside, and the edges were showing under the Underarmor.
The black ones were used for the biceps and the white ones were placed upside down on the outside of the shoulders (*note: remove any velcro from the pads as they can tear away at spandex / lycra)

I started with the pectoral muscles. I simply traced a more heroic muscle shape using a sheet of transparent plastic placed over my chest. I cut around the shape, then traced the outline onto the foam, then cut them out of the foam with scissors.

Next, I trim the edges on one side at 45 degrees using scissors at an angle.

You can see the angle here

You also want to taper the pectoral muscles so that they are thinner at the top of the chest and more defined at the bottom. The area to trim is shaded with the marker pen. Continually trim away at the top portion until you get the taper you want.

Here's the finished pectorals. I was originally going to have the "trimmed" side facing outwards (how they are labelled) but I tried them with the flat sides facing the fabric, and I found they were more seamless, so I relabeled them.

For the biceps, I used the black shoulder pads with the tapered end facing up. Simply slip them under the shirt. For the shoulders, place them under the shirt upside down, with the tapered end facing down. This will match the anatomy of your shoulders.

Here's the muscles laid out on my Underarmor shirt

At this point, you can secure the muscles in place a variety of ways:
- place the muscles under the shirt and let the tension of the shirt hold the muscles in place (I find if you do dynamic movements, they will shift in position. Embarrassing if your bicep is sideways!)
- double sided tape them to your skin, not the fabric as the tape can show on the costume
- hand sew them to the shirt
- glue them on the outside although this may make it more difficult to pull your costume over the muscles
- you could also paint latex on top of the muscles to seal them, but be careful of seams or bumps showing.
- your spandex / lycra costume finally goes on top of the muscle shirt

Here's what it looks like with the pectorals, biceps and shoulder muscles in place under the shirt. Again, I wanted to go for the leaner look, but you can size the muscles for whatever look you want (add a second pad under your arm for a thicker look). Puny Parker no more! :)






Hope that helps!
Looks great so far, but one suggestion- take some of that foam and carve out yourself some V shaped triceps. Your arm looks odd without definition back there.

Otherwise, this is great!
Buy memory foam at walmart $6 for a 12" square, works way better then regular foam when compressed and even feel realistic, I did a few test for my thighs and calves and it was awesome. it's important to tamper egdes like you did to blend it in your body.

Thanks for the feedback guys!

GBrittelleJr, you are right. I had an extra set of the thinner black shoulder pads and I cut out some tapered tricep muscles and it looks much better. I have sewn the muscles to a compression top and then I wear the tighter Underarmor on top of that to smooth things out and it looks great.

Gino, I will check out that memory foam - good suggestion.
Buy memory foam at walmart $6 for a 12" square, works way better then regular foam when compressed and even feel realistic, I did a few test for my thighs and calves and it was awesome. it's important to tamper egdes like you did to blend it in your body.


Awesome! How did you fix the memory foam to the material? And how do you wash it? Because to the best of my knowledge memory foam is not laundrable.

Sent from my SM-N900V using Tapatalk
Just a small update as I received a few questions about the muscle suit.

I made a newer version since this muscle suit, but it's essentially the same. I only made muscle pieces for the upper body as follows:

- pectorals. I have since sewn a new pectoral, using the shapes I made above as a guide. I glued the foam shapes to a piece of felt fabric, and sewed a piece of felt fabric on top, with a tight stitch seam, pretty much looks like a sandwich (felt, foam, felt). It looks just like the professional effects ones.
- shoulders using larger fabric shoulder pads sewn with the thin end facing down towards the wrist.
- biceps are the regular sized black shoulder pads, thin end facing up
- triceps (*added since this older suit didn't have them) with the thin end facing towards the wrist. I also cut a triangular shaped notch into the bottom of the pad to mimic the shape of a tricep muscle, like the "C" area of this diagram

Everything is hand sewn to the base layer Underarmor. Because I am lazy, I only sewed a few "loop stitch" points around each muscle, but it works great. I still wear a second Underarmor on top of the muscle suit to smooth out any wrinkles and it hides the muscle colors from showing through my dye sub suit.

I can hand wash the muscle suit after wearing it since it's the skin contact layer. I just dunk it in detergent water, squeeze the muscles so they absorb the water, rinse it out, and wring it dry, then hang it. I don't machine wash it because of the hand stitching.

Here's updated pics in my Spidey suit, with all the muscles in place.

This thread is more than 9 years old.

Your message may be considered spam for the following reasons:

  1. This thread hasn't been active in some time. A new post in this thread might not contribute constructively to this discussion after so long.
If you wish to reply despite these issues, check the box below before replying.
Be aware that malicious compliance may result in more severe penalties.