There are many different goals in the world of fitness and training, however increasing vascularity is arguably one of the most universal. To unpack that concept a bit further, vascularity is commonly thought of as the ability to see the veins on someone’s body. However, in order to see veins, we also have to see a person with a low body fat percentage, an appropriate amount of hydration couple with proper water retention, lean muscle and a host of other factors. In this article, we’ll break down a few key strategies that can be used to achieve peak vascularity in our physique based upon assessing our current state to formulate a gameplan for the future.
In order to improve your vascularity, the first step is to accurately assess your current state of fitness and wellness. This applies to a variety of factors from workouts, nutrition, supplements and so on. However, by narrowing down our search, we can create a more effective blueprint for success.
First, get an assessment or measurement of your body fat percentage. This will give you a great general idea of your fat to muscle ratio and can provide insight into exactly how much we need to change to achieve a more vascular physique which then informs which strategies we want to use. Generally, if you are above 25% body fat, vascularity may be a secondary issue and we’ll want to first tackle a diet overhaul, introduce metabolic training and in general make some fairly comprehensive lifestyle changes. If you fall between 12 and 25% body fat, vascularity is a more achievable short-term goal but will require some adaptations in nutrition and diet, training program adjustments and possibly adding or changing supplement plans. If you’re under 12% body fat, you may already have a level of vascularity and it will take a much more precise approach to creating adaptations that will get you to peak vascularity which will occur usually around 5-75 body fat.
Secondly, we need to take stock of your current diet. Peak vascularity requires a delicate balance of taking in fuel and energy as required via your training and activity level, however overconsumption or consumption of the wrong types of foods can swing the pendulum to the other end. If possible, attempt to keep a running log of your normal diet for three to five days, then review to extract common patterns and review your macronutrient balances. If your diet is heavy with carbohydrates as compared to proteins and healthy fats, it may need some rebalancing to cut out the extra fluff. In addition, your hydration levels are key, and you’ll want to take stock of your general feeling of hydration, dehydration, or bloating. The goal is to be in the middle, with proper hydration but not over-hydrating which creates bloating and takes away from our vascular goals.
Finally, if you do not need keep a regular training log or diary start keeping one. If you do, then review your latest phase or months’ worth of training. We know full well that muscles require blood flow in order to work properly and train, we also know that properly training muscles for hypertrophy or muscle growth can aid in creating vascularity. You should review both your current training plan and the results you have been seeing to look for results. If your training plan has been the same for the past month (or longer) with minimal variation, unless you are brand new to training the odds are your results have likely plateaued as well. Our bodies respond and adapt when a new training stimulus is introduced; this leads to super-compensation during recovery and thus a physical adaptation, such as getting stronger, improving our cardiovascular output, and so on. If you’re training program is not introducing a new stimulus or stress regularly, your body will begin to return to stasis (A.K.A. get comfortable) and progress will stall. If you are lifting weights but never do cardio, introducing interval training may do wonders to increase your vascularity and decrease body fat. If you are constantly putting in miles upon miles on ergs, bikes or treadmills but haven’t ventured near the dumbbell rack, a very simple total body hypertrophy training plan will help build the physique you desire. If you’ve been doing both, you may have to look deeper at different possible variations, which could include new exercises, altering your set, rep and tempo scheme, and so on.
The final variable, though related to nutrition, is your supplement plan. Part of taking stock of your current body composition, nutrition, and training is not only to find our strengths but also our deficits. The goal of any supplement is to help fill in the gaps our current lifestyle may not afford us naturally. There aren’t many folks who can only lift, eat and sleep in life. Most of us have jobs, families and other responsibilities as well, and these are certainly the priorities. They shouldn’t be a hindrance however, and using the right supplements that may include creatine, BCAA’s, protein and others can improve our vascularity quickly or even be the missing piece.
In conclusion, vascularity is an admirable fitness goal and in many ways the epitome of the ideal human physique. It requires great discipline in training, diet, supplementation and hydration. While we can use the throw paint on the wall and hope it’s a picture approach, the more practical strategy is to first assess our current state and make informed decisions. If you’re not tracking your current activity, it is imperative to start keeping even a basic log of your diet and training. Once you’ve identified your deficits, if you don’t have a coach or trainer it is best to consult with a professional to put together a functional plan to achieve your goals. Finally, when setting goals, we must remember that Rome wasn’t built in a day and no couch potato became a physique competitor in a month. The vascular body takes many years to perfect; thus it is imperative to use short term, achievable and results-driven goals to slowly and surely reach our vascular ideal!
By: Carl Putman