You’ve probably seen a bodybuilder, NFL player or any other athlete who has a lot of muscle mass and noticed that the veins on their arms are popping out. Vascular arms look powerful and attractive and, naturally, many people are interested in achieving this aesthetic. Now, the question arises - how do you get vascular arms? Well, there is more than one answer, as well as some confusion and myths regarding this subject that we need to clear up. So if you are interested in getting ‘road map' veins, then you’re at the right place! Let’s start with some misconceptions first.
There is no shortage of bro-scientists and fitness ‘experts’ out there who are more than happy to share incorrect and unproven advice about all things gym. Of course, we are sure that they do it with best intentions but remember to be reluctant in believing everything you hear in the locker room.
Some people claim that the ways to get vascular arms are doing high-rep training, eating a low-carbohydrate diet, or paying attention to your water and sodium intake. To be fair, there is some truth in these statements, but ultimately, they will not produce long-term and satisfying results.
So now that we’ve dealt with the myths and temporary fixes, the remaining question is - what are the real factors that influence vascularity?
The first thing that plays a major role is your predisposition, or genetics. Certain folks have a lot of veins to show without even trying while others struggle to achieve this. If you are not the genetically gifted type, don't despair, because there are a few more factors that you can control.
The first factor is your body fat percentage, and this is probably a no-brainer for most people. The thing is, veins that are close to the body’s surface are known as superficial veins, and if there is a thick layer of fat between these veins and the skin, they won’t be visible. Fortunately, this can be fixed with proper diet and exercise. Guys who have body-fat percentages lower than 10% will probably have a vascular aesthetic. For girls, it's the same story, but it might be harder for them to get this look because women naturally have more body-fat than men.
The second reason is the size of your muscles. If you have big and well-developed biceps (or any other muscle), they will push the vein out towards the surface of the body and make it visible. This is why you see road-map veins in a lot of jacked guys.
The third thing is the size of your blood vessels, or more precisely, how dilated they are. When you exercise, your heart pumps blood faster to deliver more oxygen to the muscles. This action leads to an increase in arterial blood pressure (blood moving from your heart), and this will make your veins more dilated (expanded). If you are physically active, constantly and over a long period of time, the veins will remain dilated even when you are resting. Very intense, regular exercise can even create new blood vessels.
Last but not least, water retention is one more factor that prevents vascularity. Similar to fat, the body also stores excess water between the skin cells and muscles. Decreasing water retention is a must for anyone who wants to have a vascular body.
Now that we've talked about the real reasons and cleared up all the nonsense, let us learn more about the methods and actions to take to achieve a veined-up look.
Too much salt is bad for you, at least that’s what we always hear being said. One thing is certain- it is not good for vascularity. Cells absorb sodium very well, and what this mineral does is bring along water inside the cells thus creating temporary water retention. According to medical professionals, daily sodium intake should be around 2000 milligrams (about one teaspoon of salt).
Contrary to sodium, potassium helps drain out the water from your cells, so the balance of these two minerals in the body is essential. Pay attention to your potassium intake, and the recommended daily dose is around 4700 mg.
It might sound contradictory to increase water intake if you want to minimize water retention, but it is in fact true. If your sodium/potassium levels are under control, then consuming adequate amounts of water daily is very important. If you don't do this, your body will go into adaptation mode trying to save water and create more water retention. The daily dosages differ from person to person, and you will have to find what works for you. The recommended amount for adults is ¾-1 gallon per day. Of course, if you sweat a lot this amount will probably increase by a liter or two.
Cortisol is also known as the stress hormone, and it is created as a response to stressful situations and low levels of blood sugar. High cortisol levels can do all sorts of damage to the body especially if they are high frequently for long periods of time. One of these problems is also water retention which is why it’s so important. Some of the proven ways of lowering cortisol levels are meditation, spending time in nature, and spending time with loved ones. We advise you to do more research on this subject.
As it is mentioned earlier in this article, muscle size does matter when it comes to vascular looks, so putting on more muscle mass is the logical thing to do. Any good full-body workout program will work your arms pretty hard, so you don't need to worry about some additional exercises for this part of your body. Make a well-structured gym routine, focus on proper form and eat well, and the results will eventually show. Moreover, put safety in your first consideration by using necessary gears such as weight lifting gloves, elbow compression sleeves, etc.
You might hear some folks saying that certain foods with diuretic effects might help with resolving water retention, but unfortunately, their impact is vastly overestimated. Some of these foods include coffee, alcohol, watermelon, eggplant, celery, etc.
Another thing you hear about are supplements like citrulline or theanine, which are commonly used as a pre-workout. These two will dilate your veins by making your heart beat faster, thus delivering more oxygen throughout the body. They are also a very temporary solution and should not be seen as anything else.
There it is people, all that you need to know about how to get vascular arms. One other, very important realization is that there is no magic pill or shortcut to reach this. Setting and achieving physical goals is a great mental practice that can transfer to other things in your life as well.
This particular goal requires discipline and sacrifice (controlling sodium/potassium intake, drinking enough water, working out regularly) and it might be a challenge for a lot of people. Determination and willpower can be practiced like any other skill, so start with your practice today!
I am Mike R.Bowen, founder of Fitness On The Weekend dot Com and my aim is to help busy people find time for fitness. We will give you actionable advice on how you can keep fit and healthy even on those busy days!
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