Example with a context:

You're beyond the basics, so dive right in and customize, automate and extend Access—using Visual Basic for Applications (VBA). This supremely organized reference is packed with hundreds of timesaving solutions, troubleshooting tips and workarounds. It's all muscle and no fluff. Discover how the experts use VBA to exploit the power of Access and challenge yourself to new levels of mastery.

What do they really mean by that?

  • 3
    It's pretty much a "one-off" usage (not a standard idiom). All the writer means is the book contains only "solid information" (muscle), with no superfluous verbiage (fluff). Jan 18, 2015 at 21:45

1 Answer 1


Fumble is correct - it's not a common idiom, but one the author probably made up on the spot. It conveys the idea that the book is packed full of useful information (contrasting "muscle" with "flab", "fluff", or "fat" - the former being more athletically useful).

"Fluff" in this case would refer to the kinds of non-information content that can make a book seem longer without actually being useful: long, wordy paragraphs describing something, lots of redundant chapter headings or metadata - things like that. Making the font size bigger to "pad out" your material would be the classic example.

  • 1
    It may not be a common idiom, but both muscle and fluff do have those figurative meanings. NOAD defines fluff as "writing perceived as trivial or superficial," and muscle can mean "coercive power or force."
    – J.R.
    Jan 19, 2015 at 10:39

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