Sleeper Build (Bodybuilding)
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A Sleeper Build is a weightlifting and bodybuilding slang term commonly used on GymTok that refers to someone who looks skinny or weak until they flex and reveal that they are muscular and strong. Having a sleeper build is often accompanied by having a baby face and looking young or inexperienced in the gym overall. Sleeper build videos trended en masse on TikTok in 2022 in which TikTokers who were mostly high school and college age showed off their sleeper builds by wearing large T-shirts and clothing that concealed them. The term was commonly used in relation to SARM Goblins, steroid culture and We Go Jim.
Before the term "sleeper build" was associated with physical aesthetics, it was first used to define "a PC with an external case that appears incredibly outdated, but when opened, contains modern parts, and when turned on, runs a modern operating system" (definition provided by Urban Dictionary user dreggsome). The concept of a "sleeper build" was also used in car communities to express a similarly outdated-looking car but with modern or enhanced mechanics and components.
In 2022, "sleeper builds" became synonymous with bodybuilding culture on TikTok. This surfaced due to discourse surrounding Russian TikToker saifiev who started posting VHS-style videos in mid-2021 of himself flexing his arm in an elevator. His first TikTok of this nature was uploaded on July 25th, 2021, gaining roughly 484,800 plays and 48,900 likes in 16 months (shown below, left). On August 16th, 2021, a TikTok he uploaded gained increased engagement, earning roughly 34.9 million plays and 6.4 million likes in 15 months (shown below, right).
Although TikToker saifiev's videos widely popularized the "sleeper build" aesthetic on the platform, he wasn't dubbed the "sleeper build" until roughly a year later. On August 15th, 2022, TikToker jamesconnofitness reposted a saifiev TikTok, writing in the video's caption, "Sleeper builds>>." The video earned roughly 391,300 plays and 24,800 likes in three months (shown below, left). Also on August 15th, 2022, TikToker alcyonex_ reposted a saifiev TikTok and wrote "Sleeper Build" in the caption, gaining roughly 77,200 plays and 6,200 likes in three months (shown below, right).
Due to the aforementioned TikToks, the "sleeper build" concept gained more iterations in August 2022 as TikTokers shared their own sleeper builds. For instance, on August 26th, 2022, TikToker shea_mccaul3 shared his sleeper build in a video that earned roughly 1.8 million plays and 118,500 likes in three months (shown below, left). On September 8th, 2022, TikToker emmalanyi shared a video that revealed her sleeper build, gaining roughly 18 million plays and 2.2 million likes in two months (shown below, right).
On September 27th, 2022, Urban Dictionary user BabyZay added a "Sleeper Build" definition related to GymTok, writing, "A physique that is not appealing to the naked eye until it is flexed or uncovered, normally someone that looks small but big when flexing" (shown below).
On October 3rd, 2022, YouTuber Ben Wiseman uploaded a video about sleeper builds, referencing the TikTok trend and levying his analysis. In one month, the video gained roughly 14,800 views (shown below).
https://www.tiktok.com/embed/v2/7159746642608966955 https://www.tiktok.com/embed/v2/7144397026690731270 https://www.tiktok.com/embed/v2/7153698575560559914
 Urban Dictionary – Sleeper Build
 TikTok – @jamesconnofitness
 TikTok – @alcyonex_
 TikTok – @shea_mccaul3
 TikTok – @emmalanyi
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