Ready To Get Vascular?!
Vascularity is badass.
Road map veins bulging out of shredded forearms and iron forged biceps is an admirable sight…
For a bodybuilder the feeling that overcomes when a new vein pops out is indescribable, in my opinion vascularity can give you that ‘edge’ over the competition. it can turn a good physique into a great physique (if you place 2 guys of the exact same height, weight and body fat percentage next to each other while one has protruding vascularity and the other does not you would without a doubt assume the vascular guy is a lot leaner).
A great example of a vascular physique is Sylvester Stallone.
Vascularity And Genetics... Linked?
Genetics do play a role in your vascularity, yes – certain people simply display more vascularity (superficial veins). That said by manipulating the 6 key points I’ll address below regardless of your age, gender or genetics you’ll be able to display a decent level of vascularity in your arms, legs and torso (yes, ab veins are possible!).
Understanding Superficial Vascularity (This Is What You Want)
Without going overly in-depth the veins we’re looking to bring out are known as the superficial veins – these veins reside close to the surface and are able to protrude quite nicely when body fat and a number of other factors are adjusted.
The cephalic vein is the first vein you’re likely to uncover – this vein runs from the shoulder, down the bicep to the forearm at which point it splits off. As your vascularity begins to increase you’ll notice the cephalic vein visible on your bicep and as you progress the shoulder and forearm portions of this vein will become more pronounced.
From here what I call ‘spider webbing’ of your shoulder veins will likely be uncovered followed by small veins in your obliques and the bottom of your abs (you’ll have to be in single digit body fat to have this level of vascularity).
Now, here’s how you can increase your vascularity without insane genetics.
Actionable Advice To Increase Your Vascularity
It's time to get vascular! Here's what you've got to do...
Reduce Body Fat to Single Digit
The most obvious key of them all, veins are like six pack abs - everyone has them but they won’t be on show if you have a layer of fat covering them. Once you reach 10% body fat or below vascularity will become predominant.
Losing fat comes down to being in a calorie deficit, to learn how to calculate your calories check out my guide here.
Continue to Build Lean Muscle Mass
As muscle size increases due to stress and demand through your weight lifting regime more oxygen and nutrients needed to be shuttled to the muscle, this is achieved by a natural increase in blood flow and vein size.
Struggling to add lean mass? Go back to the basics…perform heavy compound movements (squat, bench, deadlift & overhead press) in the 4 – 6 rep range.
Decrease Water Retention
The layer between your muscles and your skin holds not only fat but also water too, this is known as water retention. The less water you’re holding under your skin the more pronounced your vascularity is going to be (provided you’re reasonably lean drying yourself out of water will make the biggest difference in your vascularity).
There’s a couple of ways to go about reducing the amount of water your body is holding, the first is to drink a large amount of water 3 – 4 days before you want to be in your peak state (I’m talking 5L+ per day) before you cut your water down to next to nothing for the last day or two, this strategy will flush out as much of the retained water as possible without resorting to the second method – diuretics and supplements which we will discuss shortly.
It’s also worth noting that your sodium intake plays a role in how much water you’re holding – consume less sodium and you’ll hold less water it’s as simple as that.
Water binds to carbohydrates as well, the more carbohydrates you’re consuming the ‘puffier’ you’ll look. Cut down on your intake of sodium and carbohydrates and your level of water retention will decrease.
Increase Body Temperature
In extreme heat our body has a little defence mechanism to prevent us from overheating – blood is pushed to the surface of your skin to prevent damage to your internal organs (when your cold your blood will flow inwards to provide heat to your organs).
In summer when you’re out in the midst of the sun you’ll be noticeably more vascular than usual. Bodybuilders recognise and replicate this by focusing heat on their arms, legs and torso with a hair dryer on the hottest setting prior to stepping out on stage… although extremely temporary this heat can produce protruding superficial veins.
Now, unfortunately I don’t know of any scientific reason for this one… but older people are noticeably more vascular than younger people.
A 45 year old man and a 20 year old man with the same lean muscle mass, same body fat percentage etc. may look similar, however I can guarantee the older guy will be more vascular.
If you have any insight into this one let me know!
Diuretics & Supplements
There are several supplements out there that act as vasodilators, allowing more blood to flow into the muscles while giving you that increased look of vascularity we’re chasing.
Now, if you’ve read any of my books or articles you’ll know I’m not a fan of supplements… simply because they’re pixie dust being sold by snake oil salesman.
That said there are several supplements that WILL assist you in increasing your vascularity and drying out in terms of water retention, these include:
Quick 'N' Dirty Ways To Increase Your Vascularity For Events
Drink a minimal amount of water on the day before and day of your event.
Increase your body temperature with a hair dryer or sauna for a huge increase in vascularity (very temporary).
Down a double espresso.
Summary of How to Increase Vascularity
Lower your body fat into the single digits and maintain a solid amount of lean muscle mass and chances are you’ll have reasonable vascularity.
if you do want to take things to the next level you’ll have to eliminate the amount of water you’re retaining between your skin and your muscles – loading and cutting your water intake is a sure-fire way to do this.
Reduce carbohydrate and sodium intake.
Couple this water retention technique with an increased body temperature and you’ll have roadmap veins all over.