At a certain stage in a bodybuilder's efforts to bulk up, the concept of muscle pump and vascularity will become a hot topic.
But there is a right and a wrong time to focus on vascularity. And there's also a right and a wrong way to approach maximum blood flow to veins and muscles.
So, we teamed up with a few clients to test out over 30 products and come up with this list of best supplements for vascularity.
Here's what we found.
Our Top Supplements For Vascularity
1 - Stim-Free by Transparent Labs (Editor's Choice)
Out of all the products we tested out, almost every client decided to continue using this Transparent Labs one. We measured the results on muscle pumps both before and after taking this supplement, and there was a good increase in blood flow.
It's also great that it doesn't rely on caffeine for a mental performance boost. Many of our clients head to the gym later in the day, and caffeine could mess up their sleep.
Also, compared to some other vascularity supplements, this one mixes very easily with water. Just add a scoop to 6 ounces of water about 30 minutes before you start at the gym, and you're good to go.
Main Ingredient: BCAAs, L-Citrulline Malate, Beta-Alanine
- Many positive online reviews and good results for muscle pump from our clients
- It comes in powder form that easily mixes with water for a fast pre-workout drink
- Gluten-free option with no artificial additives mixed in
- Stimulant-free to not cause jitters or sleepless nights
- Some of the flavors are a bit too sweet
2 - 4 Gauge Pre-Workout
4-Gauge is another favorite here at the Total Shape office, and we usually recommend this for clients who do most of their weight training earlier in the day. It has one of the stronger doses of L-citrulline at 6000 mg, which seems to be why we've experienced such good muscle pumps and vascularity.
The added caffeine may also help boost your mental focus and makes this a combination of a pre-workout supplement and a fat burner.
It also seems to be most popular with bodybuilders going through a bulking phase to maximize muscle growth. The only downside we noted is that you could end up quite jittery from the caffeine if you’re sensitive to stimulants.
Main Ingredient: Caffeine, L-Citrulline Malate, L-Theanine, Creatine
- Strong dose of L-citrulline malate
- A carefully chosen essential amino acid profile may improve lean muscle mass
- It’s a low-calorie option that shouldn’t mess up your diet
- This supplement does have some caffeine that could make you jittery
3 - N.O. XT Nitric Oxide Supplement
This XT nitric oxide supplement comes from a company with a long track record of creating premium dietary supplement products. It's specifically formulated as a nitric oxide supplement for increased muscle pumps.
Many athletes like such a simple formula as it makes it easier for them to stack it with other products to target muscle soreness and body fat.
We also liked the convenience of taking dietary supplement capsules rather than a powder. It's a bit more convenient than mixing up a powder.
Just keep in mind that while it is cheaper than the above two options, it doesn't have the same dose of L-citrulline either.
Main Ingredient: L-Citrulline, L-Glutathione, Bioperine
- It has a simple formula that focuses just on muscle growth and pumps
- Positive comments about improved muscle strength during training
- It comes in capsule form to make it easier to take while on the go
- It doesn't provide the strongest dosage compared to other vascularity supplements
4 - Kaged Muscle Pre-Workout
Pre-Kaged is another one of our favored pre-workout supplements that comes with some good nitric oxide boosters. It has one of the strongest doses of L-citrulline, and we did find that Kaged gave us a good bit more blood flow to muscles.
The BCAA combination is also in a good ratio, which could explain the improved strength and performance many users highlight.
The added vitamin B6 and B12 may also be key to ensuring you achieve a higher red blood cell count, which should help to improve the delivery of oxygen and energy to muscle cells.
Main Ingredient: L-Citrulline, BCAAs, Beta-Alanine
- Great amino acid combination for athletic performance and faster recovery
- It seems to make a big difference for endurance
- Comes with some added B vitamins to support energy boosts
- Contains some artificial sweeteners and flavors
5 - BSN Nitrix 2.0
This BSN muscle pump supplement has been around for quite a while, and I like that the company isn't constantly messing with the formula.
As a dedicated nitric oxide supplement, it has 3 grams of L-citrulline. It's not as much as other supplements for vascularity, but we still noticed a solid improvement. And with 3 grams of creatine included, you should also notice some better athletic performance.
If you don't like carrying around a tub of powder all day when you head to the gym after work, then these tablets could be a good solution.
We just don't like that BSN hides the exact formula blend, as stacking with other supplements could become an issue.
Main Ingredient: L-Citrulline, Creatine
- Comes creatine that should help to enhance performance
- Available in tablet form to make taking it on the go a lot easier
- Seems to boost nitric oxide production to enhance blood flow
- The company hides behind a proprietary blend that makes stacking difficult
6 - Superior Labs VasoWORx
This was a strong favorite for a few of my professional clients a few years ago, and it looks like it still works pretty well to increase blood flow during training. We measured significantly better pumps and felt more energized.
It might not last quite as long as advertised, but for the average bodybuilder, it should provide good results.
There are also B vitamins included, which should gradually help increase your red blood cells and further improve your energy.
Just beware that it's often out of stock online, so you might not always get a successful resupply.
Main Ingredient: Vitamin B complex, L-Citrulline Malate, L-Arginine
- Good source of B vitamins to promote more red blood cell supply
- Positive results for pumps and energy supply
- Comes in veggie capsules that are convenient to take later in the day
- It's not always in stock which makes keeping supply levels up a bit difficult
7 - Pump Surge Jacked Factory
We've used many of Jacked Factory's supplements in the past, and Pump Surge has proven to be quite decent for higher nitric oxide production. With 5 grams of L-citrulline, it seems to give you a good pump and even some endurance boosts as well.
We also liked that the company doesn't resort to the unnecessary use of stimulants like caffeine. If you head to the gym later in the day or evening, those could mess up your sleep and recovery process.
The powder also mixes easily with cold water, and you don't even need a shaker. But, we found that the flavors have gone downhill. Some of them taste fake and very sweet.
Main Ingredient: L-Citrulline, Betaine, Taurine
- No added stimulants to mess up your recovery time
- The powder mixes easily with water
- May provide good results for endurance and pumps
- Some of the flavors are pretty fake tasting and overly sweet
8 - Havasu Extra Strength L-Arginine
Havasu is a supplement with many marketing promises considering that there are only a few ingredients in the formula. Don't get me wrong; I like a simple formula as it makes stacking so much easier.
But I would not say that this product will do a huge amount for your recovery time.
It does seem to work well for increased blood flow and better performance at the gym. But the low dosage in the capsules might limit that effect.
Some of my clients said they found the effect wore off after just 20 minutes.
Main Ingredient: L-Arginine, L-Citrulline Malate
- A simple formula that aims to deliver good pumps and vascularity
- Comes as capsules that make changing the dose quite easy
- Positive reports about boosted performance levels
- The dosage is quite low compared to other products available
9 - Vintage Burst Nitric Oxide Booster
I love the label of this nitric oxide supplement, but it's more about the results we got with clients. The main ingredient is L-arginine, and with 1.5 grams, it has a decent dosage.
My clients all noticed better pumps throughout their training sessions. Whether it will last for three hours as promised is another matter, but it should be a good option for at least one hour.
We also found that it seems to work well for reducing fatigue, so you get to put in a few more reps or sets.
Main Ingredient: L-Arginine
- May also reduce fatigue during training
- Claims to provide better pumps for up to 3 hours
- Provides a good dose of L-Arginine to raise nitric oxide levels
- You need to take three capsules which are quite large
10 - High Volume by PEScience
The final supplement on our list is this PEScience one, where we also saw some good results that showed it might improve blood flow in our clients.
And because it's caffeine-free, it shouldn't mess up your sleep patterns or recovery times. That's something a lot of my clients appreciate because they train at the gym after work.
And we also like that there are no weird fillers or overly complex ingredients. That makes it a lot easier to stack with other pre and post-workout supplements.
The reason it's at the bottom of our list is due to the fact some of the flavors are very sweet, and the powder doesn't mix as easily as others.
Main Ingredient: L-Citrulline, Arginine Nitrate, Glycerol
- A high dose of proven ingredients seems to provide good results for vascularity
- It's caffeine-free, making it suitable for evening training sessions
- No added fillers or unnecessary ingredients, plus some added vitamin C
- The powder doesn't seem to mix that easily, and the flavor is very sweet
Here are the most important things you need to keep in mind before committing to a certain product.Setting The Right Goals
No matter what nitric oxide booster you choose, it's not going to turn you into The Hulk if you don't have a solid muscle mass base. The amount of muscle pump you get from vascularity supplements is directly related to how big your muscles are to start with.
The other thing that many newcomers to a vascularity supplement get wrong is that they think this will also lower their body fat percentage.
In reality, better blood flow doesn't build lean muscle tissue and burn off fat. It just shows off the shape of your muscles by pumping them full of blood.
Common Side Effects
When there is more nitric oxide in your body, your blood vessels will slightly expand to make it easier for blood to flow into muscles. But there can be some side effects from the ingredients most often used.
First of all, L-citrulline may cause some stomach upset and heartburn depending on the dosage .
Similarly, L-arginine may cause bloating and nausea, but this is most commonly the case when people take very high doses .
It's also important to note that anyone with low or high blood pressure should be careful with these products. They may impact your blood pressure, and if you're on medication, that could complicate things further.
3 Most Effective Ingredients
Here are the three most researched vascularity and pre-workout supplement ingredients that our dietitian said we should always focus on.
This is an amino acid that your body can produce, but when you introduce higher doses through your diet or supplements, it may also help deal with blood flow issues. In medicine, this may be an option for treating heart issues .
But for athletes, it could result in a more intense workout with your veins popping.
This is another amino acid that the body produces and that you normally get enough of through your diet. But great things happen when you get a small boost from a supplement about half an hour before you start training.
It has been linked to improved vascularity and is regularly used to treat heart health issues like elevated blood pressure .
And there is some potential for it to boost growth hormone production, which could also help athletes and bodybuilders in bulking phases.
"Because L-arginine acts as a vasodilator, opening (dilating) blood vessels, many people take oral L-arginine to treat heart conditions and erectile dysfunction." - MayoClinic.com.
Now, I first have to highlight that this ingredient isn't a supplement for vascularity. But in combination with the above two ingredients, it could be a powerful ally in your training regime.
What it seems to do is improve endurance in athletes who are working out at peak levels of performance . So, when your blood is circulating more freely, and you can increase your peak performance, the result should be a better pump.
"A review of studies of the beta-alanine supplement shows that it doesn't increase muscle strength or aerobic endurance. Instead, it appears to slightly increase the amount of time an athlete can perform high-intensity exercises, such as weight lifting and sprinting, before getting exhausted." - WebMD.com.
Vascularity Boosting Tips
Along with taking vascularity supplements, you need to do a few other things to get the blood flowing and show off your physique.
Reduce Your BMI
There is no point in achieving a massive pump with fully dilated blood vessels if you've still got a BMI above 20%.
I'm sorry to burst anyone's bubble, but those fat reserves will hide your muscle shape and the veins as well. A vascularity supplement will still help your body produce more nitric oxide, but the increased pumps won't look as well as they should.
So, before you decide to take a supplement, go through a cutting phase first.
Before you take a nitric oxide booster, you have to build up more muscle tissue first. If you try to promote vascularity with slim arms, it's still not going to make you look like Mr. Universe.
While a clean pre-workout supplement will help you to train harder, I wouldn't waste time or money on a vascularity supplement if you are not already shredded.
It's a perfect example of putting the cart before the horse.
If you want to show off your blood vessels over fully ripped muscles, then make sure you take away all distractions. That also means reducing or removing body hair that would just hide the veins.
This is particularly important if you have dark hair. A simple body hair grooming kit for some man-scaping will work wonders for greater vascularity.
This is something that many bodybuilders make mistakes on. I've heard many people say that they reduce their water intake to avoid water retention that would hide muscles and blood vessels.
But what actually happens when you mess with your water supply is that your body will hold onto as much water as possible.
The opposite happens when you consistently stay hydrated. Your body understands that there isn't going to be a water shortage, and it won't retain as much.
Do Nitric Oxide Supplements Increase Vascularity?
Yes, nitric oxide supplements may increase vascularity. But you will need a significant amount of muscle and a relatively low BMI to see the effects. If you're a slim build or you're carrying excess weight, then these supplements won't do much to change it.
Does Citrulline Increase Vascularity?
Yes, citrulline is a well-known nitric oxide booster that may improve your vascularity. All of the above products contain a good dose of it, and you should gradually build up to the recommended dose without side effects.
What Vitamins Help With Vascularity?
Vitamin B3 is the best one to help with vascularity. According to research studies, it may help improve blood vessel function and reduce inflammation at the same time . It's not a common ingredient in vascularity supplements, so make sure you get enough through a multivitamin.
Does L-Arginine Make You Vascular?
Yes, L-arginine may make you vascular, and it's a common ingredient in vascularity supplements. It may help dilate vessels to help with the easier flow of blood around the body and into muscle tissue.
Which One Of The Vascularity Supplements Should You Choose?
Based on all of our testing, we believe that Stim-Free by Transparent Labs is the best option to boost nitric oxide production.
It's not only a great option for pumps you've never experienced before but may also provide the right amino acids to help boost performance, reduce fatigue, and recovery.
With the added BCAAs, we found that this was a well-formulated supplement, and our clients have had huge success with it.
It might be worth trying out to see how much of a difference it could make for your appearance.