How to Get More Vascular: 6 Easy but Effective Steps

Benedict Ang, CPT, PN1-NC
Published by Benedict Ang, CPT, PN1-NC | Staff Writer & Senior Coach
Last updated: December 20, 2023
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Having huge back and arm muscles is cool, but having those veins show in the middle of the gym after lifting 2 tons of weight is even better.

However, you may have tried everything from a healthy diet to different training methods to get those veins popping, but still unsuccessfully.

As a certified personal trainer and based on 30-hour research, I created an easy-to-follow guide on how to get more vascular even if you have too much body fat.

After reading the article, you will know every important step to get more vascular and additional tips to further increase your vascularity.

Quick Summary

  • To get more vascular, you must lose weight and reduce your body fat percentage, increase muscle growth through hypertrophy training, employ different training techniques for increased blood flow and vascularity, fix your diet, hydrate, and consider vascularity supplements.
  • Factors that affect vascularity include body fat percentage, blood pressure, size of your muscles, water retention, and hydration status.
  • For your veins to be visible, your body fat must be between 6-13% for men and 14-18% for women.
  • Based on my years of training clients, I've found that the key to vascularity lies in the perfect balance of diet, exercise, and patience.

What Is Vascularity?

A muscular man have vascular arms

Vascularity is the visibility of prominent veins. It is achieved when muscles like those in the arms and back are well-defined, causing veins to appear on the skin's surface. Otherwise, veins remain hidden beneath subcutaneous fat, invisible to the naked eye.

Gaining vascularity, a long-standing goal and a historical symbol in bodybuilding requires reducing body fat to very low levels and building muscle through hypertrophy training.

This process involves heavy resistance training to increase the number and size of blood vessels in muscles, encouraging them to move closer to the skin. Minimizing subcutaneous fat allows these blood vessels to become visible.

How to Get More Vascular: 6 Steps

A close up shot of a muscular man's veins

Here is how to get more vascular in 6 steps:

  1. Reduce your body fat percentage to become leaner
  2. Build more muscle mass through hypertrophy training
  3. Employ training techniques to maximize vascularity
  4. Tweak your diet
  5. Hydrate
  6. Consider nitric oxide supplements

Let’s dive deeper into each one separately so you can understand the overall process behind it.

"Usually getting a “pump” during your workout is considered a bodybuilding thing. Skin-stretching biceps and pulsating vascularity seem like they’re just for aesthetic purposes, for gymbros and gals who want to look swole before heading to the beach."

- Nick English, Certified Personal Trainer

1. Reduce Your Body Fat Percentage to Become Leaner

A man with low body fat percentage

In my experience as a personal trainer, this first step is crucial for getting more vascular. I've seen clients who initially struggled with high body fat percentages make remarkable progress by focusing on this aspect.

Body fat, or adipose tissue, includes both external fat and fat around organs. It's measured as a percentage of your body weight relative to lean mass.

Despite following advanced gym routines, diet, and supplementation, many struggle with vascularity due to excessive subcutaneous fat, which hides blood vessels.

The key to losing fat lies in a combination of hypertrophy and aerobic exercises, alongside a proper diet and supplementation.

Maintaining a caloric deficit is essential, consuming fewer calories than you burn. Opt for low-sodium foods to minimize carb-induced water retention.

Beginners should aim for cardio workouts in the 35-50% aerobic zone. Achieving 6-13% body fat for men and 14-18% for women is ideal for visible vascularity.

To see a good definition and vascularity, you must achieve between 6-13% body fat percentage for men and 14-18% for women.

2. Build More Muscle Mass Through Hypertrophy Training

A man doing hypertrophy training

My experience training clients has shown the effectiveness of muscle hypertrophy training in boosting vascularity.

Hypertrophy training, as defined by the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, involves specific sets, reps, rest intervals, and training volume to grow muscle and strength [1].

Studies in the National Library of Medicine suggest combining this with progressive overload, gradually increasing reps, sets, and volume [2].

Begin workouts with compound exercises like squats, bench presses, and deadlifts, transitioning to isolation exercises later. Adequate rest, about 48-72 hours as recommended by the International Journal of Exercise Science, is crucial for recovery [3].

Finally, a protein intake of 1 g per pound of body weight is advised for optimal muscle growth, as per the Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition [4].

3. Employ Training Techniques to Maximize Vascularity

As a fitness trainer, I've observed that advanced training techniques significantly enhance vascularity.

After reducing body fat and building muscle, focus on training methods to improve vascularity. Pump sets are effective for boosting muscle circulation and vein visibility.

Blood flow restriction training, involving temporary restriction during exercise followed by rapid reperfusion, is also beneficial. Isometric training, where you hold weights in position for extended periods, can increase circulation.

It's important to note that achieving vascularity may be easier for younger athletes, underscoring the need for age-specific fitness approaches.

4. Tweak Your Diet

A man having a healthy meal

In my experience, diet adjustments are crucial for enhancing vascularity.

Many clients have reduced body fat and gained muscle by focusing on carbohydrates and proteins. Initially, avoid a caloric surplus to lower body fat.

Aim for at least 1 gram of protein per pound of body weight to support muscle growth and minimize muscle loss. Carbs and proteins are key to improving vascularity.

It's also vital to steer clear of starchy sugars, sweets, and refined foods, as they hinder vascularity progress.

5. Avoid Dehydration

In my experience, proper hydration is key to enhancing vascularity. I've had clients who overlooked their water intake initially, but once they started hydrating adequately, the difference in their muscle definition and vein prominence was noticeable.

Hydrating more makes your blood vessels more prominent so they can be seen with the naked eye.

In addition, staying more hydrated will help flush excess bloat and sodium from your system so that you look cut rather than puffy.

Read More: Does Pre-workout Dehydrate You During Workouts

6. Consider Nitric Oxide Supplements

Beetroot supplements are an excellent example of nitric oxide supplements that will drastically help your vascularity.

These supplements encourage vasodilation, which makes your blood vessels stand out on the body's surface.

In addition, beetroot extracts and juice are very high in nitrates and have been shown to confer exercise performance benefits.

This is why you can train harder with greater intensity and for prolonged periods after taking nitric oxide supplements.

Factors That Affect Vascularity

A muscular upper body of a man

Here are the main factors affecting your vascularity.

"Blood flow restriction training, also called occlusion training, involves placing an inflatable cuff on the limb you’re exercising. The idea is to restrict some — but not all — blood flow to your muscle while you’re lifting weights. This restriction is often touted as a way to make your muscles grow bigger, faster."

- Alex Polish, Certified Personal Trainer

Body Fat Percentage

The most important step towards getting more muscular is decreasing your body fat percentage.

Subcutaneous fat is located directly under your skin, and if you have too much of this type of fat, it will prevent your veins from popping out.

The more muscles you have, the more they push against the skin, forcing the blood vessels to appear.

This effect can vary between men and women due to hormonal differences, with men typically exhibiting more pronounced vascularity, a fact that reflects the diverse ways our bodies respond to muscle building and fat loss.

When you have more fat, it will mask the blood vessels and prevent you from getting veiny.

Blood Vessel and Capillary Density Size

You can still significantly impact your vascularity even though genetics play a massive role.

When you train hard and for prolonged periods, your blood pressure increases due to a higher heart rate and increased pressure throughout the system.

This will push more blood through the active muscles, boosting localized vascularity.

Muscle Size

A man doing dumbbell curls

Increasing muscle density and size will make you more vascular since the muscles push against the blood vessels, making them visible on the surface. This is why hypertrophy and strength training is crucial.

You must increase your lean muscle mass through hypertrophy and strength training to push those blood vessels on the surface and make your veins show.

The main point is that the visibility of your veins under your skin significantly depends on your ability to reduce body fat percentage.

Hydration Status

Hydration is one of the most important factors when it comes to vascularity. It plays a major role in the appearance of blood vessels throughout the body.

When well hydrated, you will have increased blood flow since blood is slightly less than 80% water.

However, it is important to mention that altering your hydration status may be risky, and you should be cautious so you don't cause severe health problems.

Additional Tips to Get More Vascular

A muscular man flexing his muscles

Below are some additional tips to get more vascular in the shortest time possible.

Lose Fat Slowly to Retain as Much Muscle Mass as Possible

The part of getting more vascular is the rate at which you lose body fat and weight. Knowing that you will likely experience muscle loss during a diet is useful, but the goal should always be to lose as little as possible.

Losing those muscles will decrease your overall vascularity in the long run. A general rule is to aim to lose between 1-2 lbs per week, which is the safe range for most people.

Do More Steady State Cardio to Increase Capillary Density and Size

A man doing a steady state cardio

Steady-state cardio workouts, as I've observed with clients, effectively enhance capillary size and density, leading to better blood flow and muscle pump. This also accelerates nutrient delivery and waste removal. Importantly, steady-state cardio is optimal for fat loss, as it burns fat in the aerobic state.

Beginners should target 35-50% of their VO2 max, while more advanced individuals should aim for 10-20% higher. For effective fat loss, maintain these workouts for at least 30 minutes.

Take Creatine to Build More Muscle

Creatine supplements, particularly creatine monohydrate, are highly effective for boosting muscle size and strength. They enhance performance in high-intensity activities like sprinting and weightlifting by forming creatine-phosphate, a rapid energy source.

Taking creatine supports muscle building and strength training by providing extra energy for intense workouts, as evidenced by National Institutes of Health research [5].

Related Articles:

FAQs

Is Being Vascular Healthy?

Being vascular doesn't necessarily mean you are healthy. Having visible veins may look cool and attractive to some people, but they certainly aren't signs of wellness and health.

What Foods Make You Vascular?

The foods that make you more vascular include salmon, olive oil, oats, spinach, and blueberries. Salmon is an excellent source of omega-3 fatty acids, which is great for many other health benefits and for getting your veins popping too.

Are Veins Genetic?

Your veins may be due to genetics. This is because genetics plays a significant role and is considered a big factor in developing blood vessels, and varicose veins, or veins that are popping.

Is It Hard to Become Vascular?

It is hard to become vascular. Vascularity can be achieved through tedious nutrition and some training methods, such as blood flow restriction training, which will boost hypertrophy effects and increase body fat burn if done properly, along with proper diet and supplementation.

How Long Do Pumps Last?

The pump lasts for about 2 to 3 hours. Your body fat and blood flow play a major role in getting your veins popping for longer, but you can generally increase your vascularity by working out or lifting weights, which will last up to 3 hours.


References:

  1. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6950543/
  2. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4215195/
  3. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6719818/
  4. https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1186/1550-2783-9-54
  5. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3407788/
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About The Author

Benedict Ang, CPT, PN1-NC
Staff Writer & Senior Coach
Benedict Ang, CPT, PN1-NC is an ex-National Soccer player turned MMA and Kickboxing champion, with ACE CPT and PN1-NC certifications. His advice is rooted in education and experience, ensuring that readers receive scientific and battle-tested insights. His mission is to empower his clients and readers to realize their potential and become the best versions of themselves.
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James Cunningham, BSc, CPT
Staff Writer & Senior Coach
James Cunningham, BSc, CPT holds a BSc degree in Sport & Exercise Science from University of Hertfordshire. He's a Health & Performance Coach from London that brings a unique blend of academic knowledge of health supplements and practical exercise experience to the table for his readers.
Learn more about our editorial policy
Dr. Harshi Dhingra, MBBS, MD is a published peer-reviewed author and renowned physician from India with over a decade of experience. With her MBBS from Bharati Vidyapeeth and an MD from Rajiv Gandhi University, she actively ensures the accuracy of online dietary supplement and medical information by reviewing and fact-checking health publications.
Learn more about our editorial policy

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