How To Be Vascular and Get Veins

Vascularity is one of the little OCD things us lifters are into.
For us, seeing a vein pop out of an arm or shoulder is a silent moment of pride. We have to just look at it. And ab veins are like newborns.

What does it take to get vascular though?
Well, while genetics certainly play a role—some guys are just naturally more vascular than others—everyone can attain a decent level of vascularity. You have to do a few things correctly, however. Just like how doing a bunch of crunches won’t give you a six pack, doing bunch of supersets for your biceps won’t give you vascularity. It takes more than that.

Genetics aside, your level of vascularity is primarily determined by three things (and in this order):

  1. Your body fat percentage.
  2. The amount of water you’re holding under your skin (subcutaneous water).
  3. Degree of vasodilation (how wide your blood vessels are).
In short, the leaner you are, the less water you’re holding, and more dilated your blood vessels are both with and without a pump, the more vascular you look.
Let’s look at each of these things in more detail.
Get Lean to Get Vascular
If you can’t see any vascularity in your shoulders or arms, even when you have a pump, it’s most likely because your body fat percentage is just too high.
The veins that you’re looking to draw out are known as superficial veins, because they are close to the surface of the body.
Like ab muscles, we all have these veins, and the main reason they remain obscured is simply because we have too much fat between them and the surface of our skin. Reduce the amount of fat, and the veins becomes more visible…
I’m not genetically very vascular, and here’s how my vascularity progresses in relation to body fat percentage:

12%: Slightly visible bicep vascularity with a pump, and none without. Cephalic vein (see image above) visible in left shoulder but not right (genetics are lame).

10%: Cephalic veins visible in biceps and shoulders with a pump, and slightly visible without.

8%: Cephalic veins clearly visible in biceps and shoulders without pump, pronounced with.

7%: Cephalic veins pronounced in biceps and shoulders with and without a pump, as well as slight “spider webbing” in shoulders with a pump. Ab veins slightly visible, reaching up to about an inch below my bottom abs. Oblique veins visible. Small chest veins visible with a pump.

6%: Same 7%, but with everything a bit more pronounced with and without a pump. Ab veins pronounced, reaching up onto the bottom abs.
So, my first tip to achieve vascularity is to get below 10% body fat. In most cases, that’s all it takes.
Water Retention and Vascularity
Just as your body stores fat in between your muscles and the surface of your skin, it also holds water. And the more water you’re holding, the puffier and less vascular you look.
This can become particularly frustrating when you’re cutting if you don’t know what’s going on and what to do about it.
A common mistake that many people make that leads to excessive water retention is they eat too much sodium. This increases water weight, and conversely, reducing sodium intake decreases water weight.
The Institute of Medicine recommends 1,500 milligrams of sodium per day as the adequate intake level for most adults, and an upper limit of 2,300 mg per day. Most people eat a lot more than this, however. According to the CDC, the average American aged 2 and up eats 3,436 milligrams of sodium per day.
Over-consumption of sodium is surprisingly easy. A teaspoon of table salt contains a whopping 2,300 mg of sodium. Yup, you read that right—one teaspoon of table salt per day is the recommended upper limit of sodium intake (and that’s why I use potassium chloride—a salt substitute—instead of table salt).
I recommend looking over your sodium intake and bringing it down to the IOM’s adequate intake level, as chronic high sodium intake is not only bad for how you look, but can lead to high blood pressure and even heart disease.
Get big, get lean, get dry, and you’ll get vascular.
Author Credit : SMB Staff
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