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I have a question that although I exercise (calesthenics, sometimes weightlifting, running) I can't seem to be attaining any vascularity. I have read on the net about the water intake, genes playing a role, etc.

So do I reduce fat in my diet or do what to achieve some vascularity?

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I had to google vascularity - it means veiny(just in case anyone else doesn't know). I just want to clarify is this what you are asking? Am I correct in thinking that you have big muscles and now want veins? Sorry if this exactly what you meant, but would of expected question to be more bodybuilding orientated if this was the case, so thought I was best to check – Tracy at 2bactive May 17 '14 at 19:31
@Tracyat2bactive at 2bactive Yes you are right. Sorry for such a late reply. I replied here but didn't know at the time that we have to use "@" before a name here. Look forward to hearing from you. – user8664 Jun 22 '14 at 21:06
up vote 3 down vote accepted

Vascularity (I assume this to be the visibility of veins) can be improved, or indeed hindered, by several factors. Some you could change are:

  • Body fat percentage: The veins are already there, but like abs, they are hidden by a layer of fat. If you reduce body fat, that subcutaneous layer of fat will get thinner and reveal more veins.
  • Water retention: Similar to body fat, retained water can make you look (and feel) soft, which isn't very good for vasularity. By minimising water retention (drinking much helps), your veins will be much more visible.
  • Muscularity: The harder your muscles are able to contract, the more they will press against the veins from the inside. This means, you can literally push your veins out by contracting hard. Trained muscles also have a better tone, which means they are harder without you doing anything, further aiding vascularity.
  • Temperature: Ever noticed, how veins are much more likely to stick out in summer? I don't quite know if it's indeed the temperature having this effect or other temperature related effects, though.

Of course, there's also some factors you can't change, which also make a difference. Some people just happen to have the weirdest amount of clearly visible veins on their arms, while other haven't. So genetics clearly are involved.

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Probably more anecdotal than anything, but after dieting down glycogen stores are depleted and hydration can also be an issue. So when you are at a good body fat percentage, eating a lot of carbs can help with the muscularity by refilling the glycogen stores. Perform some quick exercise to get blood flowing through the veins and they will become more visible. – Berin Loritsch May 17 '14 at 12:25

The answer by LarissaGodzilla is very good. But I would like to add one thing that you can do that actually increases your vascularity, independent of genetics (which nevertheless influences the extent of this effect).

Doing interval training, such as HIIT, increases vasogenic factors into the blood, which subsequently causes blood vessels to proliferate. (, When doing long distance running, this effect is somewhat lower, and occurs more centrally in the muscle (in order to supply more blood and oxygen for energy). However, in intensive interval training you activate the muscles forcefully, which presses the blood from the muscles to the superficial veins. That increases the pressure inside them, which acts as a stimulant for vasodilation and vasogenesis in itself. But it also increases the delivery of vasogenic factors specifically to those veins, which leads to further vasogenesis.

I would also like to add an explanation to LarissaGodzillas argument on temperature. It is indeed the temperature that causes the vasodilation. That is why it is bad for people with varicose veins to shower with hot water. When the temperature is increased, the body responds by vasodilation. This moves the blood superficially, so it can emit more heat and as such prevent overheating.

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Can you cite any references that suggest HIIT improves vascularity? – Lego Stormtroopr May 19 '14 at 13:12
Can you edit them in to the right place? I don't think its a tough ask to cite those articles against your claims. – Lego Stormtroopr May 19 '14 at 23:34
@LegoStormtroopr - Actually, pretty much any consistent exercise can produce increased vascularity. It's called neovascularization and it's a response to exercise. Basically the muscles need more oxygen, so they respond by creating new vessels into the muscle. His studies show that HIIT results in this effect in muscles that respond to HIIT type training (fast twitch), while endurance produces the same effect in slow twitch muscle. It's a slant way for the slobbering masses to promote the latest greatest cureall training fad, HIIT. – JohnP May 22 '14 at 15:09

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