Remember back at the beginning of your career when you only cared about how tight your sleeves were?
I remember wanting to look jacked, even though I was only 170 pounds soaking wet. In my inner circle, you got bonus points when your biceps vein looked like it was going to burst out of your skin. So how do you get a bulging vein anyway?
In this article, I'm giving you five strategies to employ that will increase your vascularity.
That biceps vein is probably the first one you'll see on your journey to becoming the big veiny triumphant man you've always wanted to be.
Eat to lose fat
Sounds pretty simple? Why haven't you done it yet then?
Losing body fat is one of the harder body goals to achieve, not because it's complicated or overly difficult. It's hard for an entirely different reason...you have to make hundreds of decisions every day to eat properly to burn fat.
Trying to run the fat off through cardio is only one decision.
It's a lot easier to say "yes" one time than "no" 134 times in a day.
The science is proven. If you want to burn fat diet manipulations are more effective than extra cardio. I wrote a lot more about this topic in What type of exercise burns the most fat.
The goal is to get under 15 percent body fat for some of you. To be sure though, aim for under 12 percent body fat.
Eat to increase Nitric Oxide
You can't go wrong with leafy greens when it comes to vascularity.
Nitric oxide is the compound that makes your veins dilate; AKA get bigger. There are plenty of foods that help increase the amount of nitric oxide in the blood.
Foods that get converted into nitrates in the body do the trick to up your level of nitric oxide. Eat foods like:
You'll notice that these foods are healthy and something you should be eating anyway. This is a time when what's healthy and what's aesthetic are actually the same thing.
Keep sodium intake low
Salt makes food delicious and makes you look fluffy.
Salt holds onto water. Simply put, the more salt in your diet, the more water you'll retain the less your biceps vein will show.
If you recall in How to cut weight in a borderline safe way, I covered a specific strategy to decrease body water retention in order to make weight. Similar rules apply here. The smarter you are about what you eat, the more likely your body will look the way you want it to.
If you eat a lot of pre-prepared food from the 7-day shop on base that you just need to add water and microwave to cook, I bet you struggle to get your veins popping the way you want them to. There's a lot of sodium in those foods to make them last longer on the shelf and taste better since they're made from the cheapest ingredients possible.
Eat from the above list instead.
Keep water intake consistent
The body remembers. If you treat it well it'll look how you want it to.
(U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Preston Jarrett/Released)
The body remembers. If you're chronically dehydrated, your body is craving water and will retain as much as possible whenever it has the chance.
If instead, you keep a consistent level of hydration, your body will hoard less water and be willing to excrete any extra water.
Apply this to trying to achieve more vascularity. You will have to stay chronically dehydrated in order to have any veins show and one glass of water will completely change the way you look.
If instead you stay properly hydrated regularly, then just a little bit of dehydration will make your veins pop.
Lift often and lift heavy. Bigger muscles equal better vein visibility.
(Photo by C.J. Lovelace)
The structure of your arm goes like this; skin, fat, veins, muscles, bone.
We have now entered the level of your muscles. Assuming you're eating and drinking according to the recommendations above, you next need to help your muscles push your veins to the surface.
Weight training is going to increase the blood flow to your muscles. That increase in blood flow is what's known as "The Pump." It makes your arms feel bigger, tighter, and stronger. It has two effects on your vascularity.
- The increase in blood flow will increase the size of your blood vessels even more than your diet already has.
- Larger muscle circumference will push your veins closer to the surface of your skin and make them more visible.
If you follow these rules, you're guaranteed to look more vascular than ever before. If you're looking for more here's a bonus, ensure you're using a pre-workout supplement that contains citrulline malate. For more on how to choose a pre-workout check out Part 1 of What supplements in the Exchange are worth your money.
The new Mighty Fit Plan is coming in hot very soon. Be one of the first to sign up for it here!
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