Have you ever noticed that certain members at your gym have their veins popping? While yours are left flat despite your best efforts. Is there a reason?
Of course, genetics has a part to play, but luckily there are things that you can do to make veins pop.
Read on to discover some tips for increased vascularity. [toc]
What Does Vascularity Mean?
What does this mean? Basically, it means getting to the point where your veins start showing through your skin.
You might be thinking of some people who have never lifted a weight in their life but have very thin skin (or large veins) naturally.
There is definitely a genetic component to this, but anyone can achieve vascularity if they want it hard enough.
In this article, we are going to discuss some tips for increasing your level of vascularity.
Tip #1: Cut Your Body Fat Percentage
If you want your veins to pop then you will need to cut your body fat percentage.
For men, this means you will need to drop your body fat percentage down below 10%, while women should aim to drop to around 15%.
If you are carrying more fat then your veins will be less prominent.
To cut fat while maintaining those hard-earned muscles then you will need to make sure your diet is lean with plenty of fresh vegetables and loads of protein.
You most certainly should try to avoid junk food and soft drinks while cutting fat.
Tip #2: Build Muscle
The more muscle mass you have the more demand they have for blood, therefore helping to expand your network of blood vessels.
Building muscle is a difficult task and will involve a bulking stage, where excess fat will probably be gained. Therefore a loss of vascularity.
However, if you alternate between bulking and cutting phases you should be able to maintain vascularity while you gain muscle mass.
Tip #3. Train for high reps
One of the best ways to increase your vascularity is to increase the amount of blood flowing to your muscles.
A good way to do this is to train in a very high rep range, this will force more blood to your muscles and therefore increase the size of your veins.
Performing drop sets and training to failure are other ways to achieve this.
Tip #4. Train for Hypertrophy
This tip goes hand in hand with training in high rep ranges and aiming to build bigger muscles and create more muscle damage.
The bigger the muscles you have the more blood needs to be delivered to them both while training and at rest.
Tip #5: Look for the “Pump”
Have you noticed that when you lift your muscles expand? This is because when you lift you are increasing the amount of blood in your muscles.
This pump also increases cell swelling and metabolite accumulation, which will both help promote muscle growth.
To target vascularity in a particular body part Blood Flow Restriction (BFR) can be used.
BFR involves the partial restriction of your veins, this results in a pooling of blood and a massive pump.
You need to use specially designed cuffs to perform blood flow restriction, and you really don’t want to overdo this.
Tip #6: Increase Cardio
Not only is intense HIIT cardio workouts a great calorie burner, which as we mentioned already will help you become more vascular.
Another benefit is that if you perform aerobic exercises consistently then you will see an increase in capillary density, as well as an overall increase in the number of capillaries (tiny blood vessels).
Obviously the more capillaries the more blood will reach your muscles, and the bigger your pump and the more vascular you will become.
Tip #7: Take a Nitric Oxide Supplement
During exercise, your body will produce higher levels of Nitric Oxide (NO).
NO is a potent vasodilator, which helps to relax your blood vessels, resulting in an increase in blood-flow efficiency.
To increase NO even further there have been many supplements created. The following supplements/ingredients have been shown to increase NO production:
Citrulline has been shown to increase L-Arginine levels higher than L-Arginine itself.
This is good because L-Arginine is a precursor to Nitric Oxide.
Citrulline does not cause the digestive stress some users will experience when they supplement with L-Arginine.
Both Beetroot and Pomegranate are vasodilators that have been shown to have a positive impact on your blood flow.
Creatine as an osmolyte, which means that once it accumulates within your muscle cells it will also help draw fluid in too.
This process helps an increase in cell size, leaving you with a bigger pump and vascularity.
Tip #8: Drink Plenty of Water
It may sound crazy, but by keeping yourself hydrated, you will not only keep your muscles hydrated but will also help to reduce water retention too.
During a competition, bodybuilders will often dehydrate themselves, which will lead to their veins becoming more prominent. However, while this process works, it is not something I would recommend doing.
Another option commonly used is diuretics, but while there are supplements that help, there are also natural options such as coffee for example. Again, excessive use of diuretics can be dangerous, so please use caution if you decide to go this route.
Tip #9: Cut Out Sodium (Salt)
Sodium in your diet can cause water retention, so it is important if you want your veins to pop that you try to limit your sodium intake.
One of the easiest methods to avoid sodium is by avoiding junk food, and those foods full of preservatives.
If possible I would recommend preparing your own meals. That way you can control how much sodium you are consuming.
You should try to limit your sodium intake to just 1 teaspoon daily if you want to flavour your food there are plenty of herbs and spices you can use.
Tip #10: Cut Back on Carbs
Those who consume a high carb diet are more likely to retain water. Not only because of the salt content but for other reasons too.
To reduce this water retention I would recommend a low carb diet. It is also better for burning fat, which will leave you leaner and more vascular.
Tip #11: Increase Your Body Temperature
As your body temperature increases your blood will be pushed towards the surface of your skin. This will cause your veins to pop out and become more visible.
A trick many bodybuilders use before a show is to use a hairdryer to get their veins to pop.
The foods you eat can also increase your body temperature, in particular, spicy foods like hot peppers or cayenne peppers.
There are also certain supplements that can help too, for instance, supplements that contain the following ingredients:
- Green Tea
- Capsaicin (made from peppers)
There are plenty of methods you can use to help make your veins pop.
If you follow the above tips then you will become leaner and more vascular in appearance. A low body fat percentage is incredibly important, so if you are carrying a few extra pounds of fat our best piece of advice would be to try and lose a little fat.
Unless you are a naturally veiny person, then dieting down to a very low body fat percentage is not sustainable.
This means that you probably won’t be able to stay vascular 365 days a year.
Remember that even professional bodybuilders do not stay in competition shape all year round. They peak in time for competitions, and this is how you should live too.
If you have a competition, or even a holiday aim to be at your lightest (and therefore most vascular) for that.
After the event you can begin to reverse diet, slowly building muscle and losing vascularity until you are back to a decent weight.
This is where you can be increasing strength and hypertrophy. Once you have reached your target you can begin to drop down again, with the idea being that you will be even more muscular, and even more vascular for the next event.
If you have ideas of walking around with <5% body fat at all times with veins visible EVERYWHERE on your body, then you need to become more realistic in your aims.
Being that low body fat is not actually healthy. Testosterone production drops, your immune system suffers, and sleep quality will be affected. You will have less energy and be more prone to injury.
Looking that good for a photo shoot is fun, but living like that 24/7 is pretty dangerous.
Remember to increase your rest and recovery throughout training, as you will need it more than ever when your body fat has dropped so much. Good luck!