This post was last updated on February 7th, 2017
If I was Aladdin and a genie granted me 3 wishes – having roadmap vascularity would be one of them.
Girls whine, “Ewww veins are gross”, but us gym rats laugh nonchalantly at these bimbos, as we unanimously agree that veins bulging from our biceps is the greatest thing since sliced bread.
If you had a jacked guy with no vascularity, stood next to another jacked dude with veins popping out of every muscle…
The second guy wins.
Veins popping out left, right and centre makes you look extra ripped. They’re the difference between you being a mere mortal, or a freak of nature.
And we don’t lift to look like mortals.
So what actually determines how vascular someone is?
A lot of people say “He’s more veiny because he’s got better genetics”, which is correct, but a vague answer. How vascular you are IS genetic, but what this really means is how thick/thin your skin is.
If you’re naturally thick-skinned (like me), then you’ll have more layers of skin (epidermis) covering/hiding your veins.
However, if you are blessed with vascularity genes from the gods, then you might have thin skin.
Thin skin will cause your veins to be more visible, meaning girls will think you look vile and guys down the gym will worship you.
So what determines how thick/thin your skin is?
The more collagen your body produces the more elastic/thick your skin will be.
As you may know, many celebrities spend their lives looking for ways to boost collagen due to the protein having powerful anti-ageing attributes. Collagen basically makes your skin more supple, so it’s less prone to wrinkling/ageing.
This is why many people get collagen injections in a bid to look younger. Botox has also been proven to increase collagen production.
So for those who were thinking “I wish I had thinner skin!!!”, maybe now you don’t.
After all, no one wants to have insane vascularity, at the expense of looking like Herbert the pervert…
However, have patience Daniel son. As you age, your collagen production will gradually decrease, meaning your skin will get thinner.
This is the reason why older guys who lift (in their 40’s and above) often have INSANE vascularity.
Hugh Jackman is one example that springs to mind.
And this is why guys who take steroids have awesome vascularity because many steroids decrease collagen production (with the exception of winstrol and HGH – which actually stimulate collagen synthesis).
2. Body fat %
The leaner you are, the more vascular you’ll be. For me, I have to get ripped to shreds in order to see any noticeable vacularity. When I get down to 7% body fat I can start to see veins in my arms.
However, at 9% body fat I will see nada.
So even a 2% loss in body fat can make a massive difference.
Think of this as extra motivation for when you’re cutting.
Phil Heath is another example of how losing a small amount of fat can have a huge impact. In the offseason he’s around 8% body fat but when he’s ready for a contest he looks to be well under 4% bf.
So, overall he only loses around 4% – which isn’t a huge amount of fat. But this small loss is the difference between him looking quite vascular…or insanely vascular.
Obviously there are some rare exceptions. I.e. a chubby guy who has PAPER-THIN skin might still have sweet vascularity at a higher body fat %.
However, if the same guy was to diet and lose a shed load of fat he’d have CRAZY vascularity.
3. Blood Flow
The more blood flow there is to your muscles, the more your veins will show.
This is why when you have an erection, your cawk will have a big vein going through it. But when it’s flaccid – the vein disappears.
*The awkward moment when you’re a girl reading this article*
This is also why guys are more veiny during summer months. When your body’s temperature goes up, blood rushes to the surface of the skin. This is your body’s defence mechanism to make sure your internal organs don’t overheat.
And when it’s cold, blood rushes inwards, in an attempt to keep your vital organs as warm as possible.
This is why you won’t see a vein in sight when you’re shivering.
There was one guy, who understood this principle and created a methodology to increase his body temperature before stepping out on stage.
Other guys began pumping up and this guy pulled out a hair dryer from his bag and blew it all over his body on a high temperature.
The result? His veins popped out like crazy.
You can watch the the video here:
And here’s another video of a guy who watched the above video but was skeptical of it working – so he put it to the test:
So this trick certainly confirms that increased blood flow (to the surface of the skin) works wonders for increasing vascularity, albeit for a very short period of time (when using a hair dryer).
This extra blood flow is also why you’re more more vascular when you get a pump in the gym. And the bigger your pump, the more vascular you’ll be as this means EVEN MORE blood is rushing into the muscle. Boom!
Supplements to increase blood flow/maximize your pump:
It’s not just thin skin that makes steroid-users have kick-ass veins; many anabolic steroids also significantly increase your blood pressure.
Higher blood pressure = higher body temperature (1).
Higher body temperature = VEINS.
So how do we improve blood flow/increase body temperature?
The following foods/drinks stimulate thermogenesis in the body and will thus increase your body’s core temperature. As a result you can expect enhanced vascularity.
- Cayenne pepper
- Green tea
So you could throw in peanut butter sandwiches on wholemeal bread into your diet plan, eat a gingerbread man post-workout to spike your insulin levels, sprinkle cayenne pepper on your next steak or slurp on some green tea before your workouts.
All of which will help elevate your core body temperature and boost blood flow to your muscles.
If none of these diet tweaks appeal to you, you can always take cayenne pepper, green tea or ginger root in supplement form which is also effective.
4. Build More Muscle
For your muscles to function, they need nutrients.
But how do they get nutrients? Answer: via your blood stream i.e. blood flow.
Thus if your muscles grow, they will require more nutrients. And more nutrients requires more blood flow.
So if you build muscle, not only will you enjoy the perks of being more jacked, but you’ll also be considerably more vascular.
This is another reason why guys juicing will have more prominent veins than nattys (on average), because they generally have more muscle mass.
Need an example of a veiny badass bodybuilder who juices? Look no further than Ronnie Coleman aka the human road map…
…You know you’re vascular when you shave your head and a couple more veins pop out.
5. Water Retention/Glycogen
If there is a significant amount of water that collects inbetween your muscle and skin (extracellular retention), then this can hide your veins. This type of water retention can also reduce muscle definition.
Alternatively, if there is water retention INSIDE the muscle cell (intracellular) your muscles will inflate.
This is the type of water retention you want.
When bodybuilders prep for a contest, they carb deplete to eliminate muscle glycogen (energy stores).
By depleting like this bodybuilders will flush extracellular and intracellular fluid.
After depleting they might see some vascularity due to a reduction in water outside the muscle during this time. However their muscles will shrink temporarily due to a loss of intracellular fluid.
However when they carb up again, because their muscles are craving glycogen (with the body in survival mode), an influx in carbs will result in more water stored INSIDE the muscle cell.
And for every 1 gram of carbohydrates you consume, your body will retain an additional 3 grams of water.
So your muscles will be inflating with glycogen, with very little water collecting outside your muscles = HELLO VEINS.
So if you want to look extra veiny for a certain day, carb deplete for a few days by eating <30g carbs per day. Then the day before you want to look like a greek god, carb load with high glycemic index foods – eating 2.5g of carbs per lb of bodyweight.
And on the actual day keep your carbs high.
If your carbohydrates/calories go too high during this period, there is a chance that you will ‘spill over’, meaning some water might be distributed outside of the muscle cell. Not eating over 2.5g of carbs per lb of your bodyweight (when carbing up) will prevent the chances of this happening.
High GI foods will replenish glycogen stores faster and more effectively than low ones.
Examples of high glycemic foods:
- White baguette – 95
- Oatmeal – 83
- Coco pops – 77
- Pancakes – 80
- English muffin – 77
- Popcorn – 89
- Waffles – 76
- Pizza – 80
- Rice cakes – 82
- Baked potatos – 85
- White bread – 73
- Cornflakes – 93
- White rice – 89
- Yam – 74
Yes, you read that right. Pizza and pancakes both have high GI values = permission to eat these when carbing up.
A lot of guys get super veiny when drinking alcohol. This is because ethanol is a diuretic, meaning it eliminates extracellular water retention. This is why some bodybuilders drink red wine the night before a competition, to make them appear more ‘dry’.
Here’s a picture of me when I was around 7% body fat doing a workout in the gym, the day after drinking quite a bit of alcohol.
I pretty much never drink alcohol by the way. Considering I rarely ever see my veins (and I wasn’t even training arms), this is FREAKY vascularity.
Veins in my shoulders before, not even once.
(I only took 25 selfies of my arm during that workout – no biggie).
Drinking more water will also make a difference to how visible your veins are. Because the more water you drink, the more water your body will flush out (defence mechanism to stop you from holding too much water).
So, what’s the best supplement to improve your intracellular to extracellular fluid ratio?
Answer: Creatine monohydrate
Creatine gets a bad rep when it comes to looking aesthetic, due to it causing water retention. However, many people don’t understand that creatine promotes water retention INSIDE the muscle cell, reducing the amount of extracellular fluid.
Thus supplementing with creatine can be beneficial when trying to get extra vascular. Not to mention your pumps will also be even bigger during your workouts.
Wrapping it Up:
For more veins in the short term:
- Carb cycle
- Drink alcohol
- Use a hairdryer (lolz)
For more veins (constantly):
- Take supplements to increase blood flow
- Lower your body fat
- Regularly consume foods that increase body heat (cayenne, green tea, ginger).
- Build more muscle
- Drink more water
- Hop in a DeLorean and fast forward 10 years = thinner skin.
Although there are several factors that determine how veiny you are, some will have a massive effect and others will only make a small difference.
The one’s that’ll make a big difference are:
- Lowering your body fat %
- Build more muscle
- Drink a lot more water
So concentrate on these 3 points and you’ll certainly see an increase in vascularity, no matter what your genetics.
Losing body fat is definitely the number 1 factor for how visible your veins will be (in terms of the things you can control).
I wish you all the best on your journey to Vein City. Upon your arrival be sure to drop a comment in the box below if any of these tips have helped you or if you’ve got any other tricks up your sleeve for bringing out your veins!