I've seen more than a few stars walking around with very cut arms these days. Even Sly Stallone is still extremely, weirdly ripped. Is this a trend?
—Michael E., via the inbox
Sometimes we have trends. But sometimes we have this thing in Hollywood called "working." When a star is "working," that means they're, you know, acting. Being someone else.
And in the case of at least three big actors of the moment—Sylvester Stallone, Matthew Fox and Joseph Gordon-Levitt—that's exactly what's going on. They're bulked up for movie roles.
However, other stars also seem to be pumping their pecs for no specific reason. And stars don't always have a choice about that...
First, a little more about work-related gun shows:
Fox is, as we've reported in the recent past, all scary looking in some early still released ahead of the movie Alex Cross. The former Lost star plays a caller called Picasso, and he's supposed to look like he eats two pythons every day for breakfast.
Sly, meanwhile, is shooting an actioner with Arnold Schwarzenegger called The Tomb, and got crazy-ripped for something called Bullet to the Head. As for Gordon-Levitt, he's in Hollywood filming a flick called Don John's Addiction, about a porn addict. (How porn relates to his beefed-up physique, we have yet to find out.)
"It's disgusting in the right sense of the word. It's unbelievable," says Stallone's Bullet costar Sarah Shahi. "He's very aware that he's made a name for himself and his body is part of his package. He takes it seriously."
"I don't think it's any particular trend," says trainer and diet consultant Kathy Kaeler, who has worked with Jennifer Aniston and others. "Michelle Obama lifts weights as part of her workout routine. And when you lift weights, that's what you're going to get."
In fact, Madonna's famously massive triceps probably aren't part of a deliberate plan.
"When I worked with Madonna briefly, she made it a point to stay away from lifting too-heavy weights because she was aware of her natural tendency to build muscle quickly in her arms," says Sara Haley, celebrity fitness expert and creator of Expecting More.
"She was very committed to maintaining a balanced physique, so she did a lot of cardio and endurance training to achieve that balance."
So if you do happen to be seeing more toned arms right now, maybe you just happen to be looking at more photos of female celebs?
As celebrity trainer Jackie Warner tells me, "Every woman that comes to me wants their arms to be beautiful. Arms supersede abs and butts, and celebrities are no different."
—Additional reporting by Marc Malkin