There are a handful of strategies that can be implemented to get more vascular via significantly increasing nitric oxide, vasodilation, blood flow and muscle detail.
How do you get your bicep vein to really pop?
How do you force your veins against the surface of the skin and get that paper-thin skin look?
I'm going to detail the basics of what you need to know in this article, as well as some very effective compounds that can be used to induce skin splitting pumps and vascularity.
Table of Contents
Lose Body Fat
Cut down and get as lean as possible.
The lower your body fat is, the closer to the surface and more visible your veins are going to be.
It isn't because your veins are any different; you just have less fat shrouding them once you get lean.
This is the most obvious one, but it is easily the most effective.
Get lean, and stay lean if you want to look more vascular year-round.
Get Rid Of Your Body Hair To Instantly Look More Vascular
Most guys don't realize how much of a difference body hair has on how lean you look.
If you've never shaved your body hair off before, you have no idea how much of a difference it actually makes.
Insecure dudes will think shaving body hair isn't manly and that only girls should do that.
If you're a bodybuilder, or you're interested in bodybuilding in general, get that out of your head.
Manscaping is common, especially in the fitness industry.
The difference between having a hairy physique and having a hairless physique in terms of visible muscle detail and vascularity is so drastic that it will look like you've lost 3% body fat instantly just by removing the hair.
If you've never naired, shaved, waxed, or whatever your preferred method is of hair removal, I highly recommend you try it if want to look more vascular and lean.
You'll be shocked what you actually look like under that giant carpet you have on your body.
Gain As Much Muscle As Possible
The more muscle you gain, the more you're going to push your veins to the surface of your skin, and the more demand you will put on your cardiovascular system to support that muscle tissue.
This is because the more muscular you are, the more blood flow and nutrients your body will require to support it.
This comes in conjunction with having low body fat though of course.
If you gain 20 pounds of muscle but you also gain a bunch of fat, obviously you can't expect to be way more vascular than you were before you started.
However, bulking phases will provide you the opportunity to gain muscle so that when you strip the fat off during your next subsequent cutting phase you are much more vascular than you were before.
Every time I cut down after a bulk phase, I was more vascular than the cutting phase prior to that.
Expectedly, the more muscle I gained, the more vascular I became after each subsequent cutting phase.
When I first started bodybuilding I was super lean, but I was a rail with no muscle mass so I had no visible vascularity whatsoever.
Get Enough Electrolytes And Don't Restrict Sodium
Hitting your electrolyte intake is critical.
A lot of people don't realize this and are deficient in magnesium, potassium, and even restrict sodium unnecessarily.
These are the most common electrolyte deficiencies caused by dietary shortcomings.
Restricting sodium in particular is one of the worst offenders when it comes to things that directly impair your fullness and vascularity.
Not only are most athletes not eating enough sodium, many are deficient because of how much they lose during exercise.
A common misconception is that restricting sodium will make you leaner looking and get rid of water retention.
Oftentimes, restricting sodium is actually going to have the opposite effect and result in you looking flatter, less vascular, and hindering your performance.
Sodium is a necessary modulator of blood volume, and throwing off your sodium to potassium ratio with a subpar diet will prevent your body from properly regulating cellular water balance.
There's a reason why bodybuilders have sodium dense meals pre-contest after their carb deplete when they are trying to fill out.
Assuming you are hydrated and hitting your electrolyte needs via a well designed diet, sodium itself is one of the most important factors of your dietary needs when it comes to maximizing muscular fullness and getting more vascular.
Your muscles are 79% water.
If your muscles are water depleted you will look flat and have horrible vascularity.
This goes back to the previous section where I covered electrolyte requirements.
If you are drinking enough water, hitting your electrolyte needs (including sodium), and have enough glycogen; you will ensure that your muscles have enough intracellular hydration to stay full.
When it comes to dietary factors, this all circles back to the fact that if you have flat depleted muscle bellies, you're not going to be pushing the veins to the surface of the skin and blood volume will not be properly regulated.
You're not going to be getting that vascular and full look.
Replenish Your Glycogen Stores
If you are carb depleted, you are going to be flatter than you would be with topped off glycogen stores.
This goes back to the pre-contest bodybuilder during peak week.
They carb deplete during peak week, and then load up with carbs before the show to top off their glycogen stores and supercompensate the muscle.
Now, obviously you don't want to be carb depleting and peaking constantly, but if you want to get more vascular and full, topping off your glycogen stores will ensure that.
Each gram of glycogen draws in about 3 grams of water and is the main factor that will determine muscle fullness and quality of pumps [R].
Ensure your glycogen stores are topped off and the muscle is sufficiently hydrated with water if you want to maximize fullness and vascularity.
How impactful this will actually be on your own fullness and vascularity will largely be dependent on your insulin sensitivity, but in general, that is what you need to know.
Also, when I say topped off, I mean topped off, not spilled over.
If you eat more carbs than your body needs, you will negatively affect your body composition and cause the opposite effect than was intended with your carb intake.
I'm sure you've noticed that you are more vascular in the summer than the winter.
If I hit an arm workout in the winter, as soon as I walk outside I can see my vascularity die within minutes just because of the temperature.
This is because your veins will try to keep the blood flow closer to your core to keep your tissue temperature warm when the environment is cold.
The opposite occurs when it is warm outside, which is why you get more vascular when you're hot.
Your veins rise closer to the surface to try and get rid of some of that heat to cool you down.
This is one of the mechanisms your body uses to regulate its temperature.
Now, I'm not suggesting that you walk around with a heater or anything ridiculous like that, but one thing you can easily change is ensuring that you go to a gym that isn't too cold.
A gym that is too cold will inhibit your pump and vascularity, and may even have a negative impact on hypertrophy to some degree.
Increase Nitric Oxide For Vasodilation
Nitric oxide (NO) is made naturally in our bodies and plays a significant role in cardiovascular health.
It dilates blood vessels (vasodilation), which lowers blood pressure and increases oxygen in the blood.
Nitric oxide (NO) acts as a messenger to signal blood vessels to dilate, or contract and relax.
Sufficient nitric oxide is needed to signal blood vessels to contract or relax to ensure blood is able to flow to and from the heart effectively.
Nitric oxide production decreases with age, consequently reducing the elasticity of the cardiovascular system, and impairing the body's ability to ensure sufficient amounts of oxygenated blood are reaching vital organs.
Eating enough nitrates and/or supplementing with nitric oxide precursors is very important to ensure that your cardiovascular system maintains optimized function as you get older.
In addition, maintaining optimal nitric oxide levels will make you more vascular and improve physical performance.
Nitrate Rich Foods
Nitrate rich foods improve vasodilation by increasing nitric oxide levels in the body.
Beets, spinach or lettuce are a few of the most nitrate rich foods you can add to your diet.
Around 80% of dietary nitrates are derived from vegetables, and is just one more reason why you should eat your leafy greens [R].
Nitrates dilate the veins and arteries everywhere in the body, consequently reducing stress on the heart by improving blood flow.
By dilating the veins, nitrates can make you more vascular.
Nitrate has shown to be a significant precursor to Nitric Oxide in a dose-dependent manner in humans [R].
L-Citrulline To Boost Nitric Oxide
L-Citrulline is the most effective supplement you can use to boost nitric oxide in the body.
It is one of the few pump ingredients that's actually worth adding into your pre-workout, or into your supplement regimen in general.
Those who don't have nitrate rich diets would benefit from it even more, not just in a vascularity context, but in a general cardiovascular health context as well.
Citrulline is found in watermelons.
You would need to eat 1.5 kg of watermelon every day to get 3 grams of L-Citrulline though, which is the minimum effective dose [R].
To get the maximum effective dose of L-Citrulline from your diet, you would need to eat 5.0 kg of watermelon per day to get 10 grams of L-Citrulline [R].
Obviously nobody is going to eat that much watermelon, nor is it a good idea to begin with in my opinion when there are far better ways to allocate your macronutrient/micronutrient intake allotments.
This is why L-Citrulline supplementation could actually be worthwhile.
The Problem With Commercial Citrulline Malate
While L-Citrulline is a great supplement to have in your daily regimen, there is a red flag around L-Citrulline supplementation that you need to know about.
I'm sure you've seen that some supplements have L-Citrulline in them, and some have Citrulline Malate.
Some even say “L-Citrulline Malate”.
This is a cheap trick companies use to deceive customers.
Citrulline Malate is composed of 50% Malic Acid, unless the ratio states otherwise.
Authentic Citrulline Malate is produced by chemically bonding free-form L-Citrulline to DL-Malic Acid.
When L-Citrulline is chemically bonded to DL-Malic Acid, the end result is Citrulline Malate, which has unique properties.
But the problem with the Citrulline Malate in the supplement industry is that it doesn't have this chemical reaction.
It's just Citrulline mixed with malic acid in a big mixing vat in the manufacturing facility.
There is no chemical bond like there should be to create authentic Citrulline Malate.
It's just the two ingredients being mixed together in a cheap blend, and it's sold as “Citrulline Malate”, or “L-Citrulline Malate”.
The reality is that it's just Citrulline stirred up with malic acid.
While this isn't a huge deal in itself, the problem lies in the labeling practices companies use to artificially inflate the perceived potency of their product.
6-8 grams is seen as the max clinically proven efficacious dosage in the supplement industry in general.
At least, that's what companies will tell you in their marketing.
First of all, we already know that the actual maximum efficacious dosage of L-Citrulline is 10 grams per day [R].
In addition, the main issue is that the “L-Citrulline” in their product is actually as low as half of the stated label claim.
As mentioned, Citrulline Malate is just a mixture of Citrulline and malic acid.
Somehow, companies are getting away with labeling their products with the chemically bonded form Citrulline Malate and claiming they have 6-8 grams per serving in their pre-workout, when they actually just have 3-4 grams of Citrulline and 3-4 grams of malic acid per serving.
Instead of labeling the following:
L-Citrulline – 3 grams
Malic Acid – 3 grams
These companies are labeling their products like this:
Citrulline Malate – 6 grams
Making you think you are getting a high dose, when in reality you are getting the bare minimum efficacious dose per serving of 3 grams.
Sometimes, companies will tweak the ratio to be a bit more in favor of a higher Citrulline content relative to malic acid, but this is rarely higher than a 2:1 ratio.
So, if you see the following:
Citrulline Malate (2:1) – 6 grams
That just means that the company has 4 grams of L-Citrulline and 2 grams of malic acid per serving.
This is the exact manufacturing process involved in producing the L-Citrulline and “Citrulline Malate” you get in preworkouts in the supplement industry:
As you can see, the Citrulline Malate manufacturing flowchart on the right literally just says, “mix”.
If this was authentic Citrulline Malate, you wouldn't need to mix L-Citrulline with malic acid, it would be chemically bonded together by the end of the manufacturing process.
You're not really getting what you're paying for, and most don't realize this is a tactic in the industry to get better margins and artificially inflate a products perceived efficacy.
Even if a pre-workout had what on paper appears to be a top end efficacious dose of 8 grams per serving, how much L-Citrulline are you actually getting out of that serving?
4-6 grams at most.
I have yet to see a pre-workout formula actually hit a top end L-Citrulline dosage, and of the ones that get close, they use Citrulline Malate to inflate their label.
In addition, even if you had the bonded version (which supplements don't), reacted Citrulline Malate will break apart into L-Citrulline and malic acid right away after its mixed in water.
It's all just a trick to artificially inflate a products perceived potency on a label, as each ingredient should be listed separately.
Most supplements have malic acid anyways in the “other ingredients” section, which is still an active ingredient that does have some potential performance benefits.
Both ingredients work on their own.
Citrulline bypasses the liver and gets converted to arginine, which increases NO.
Malic acid is a Krebs cycle intermediary that counters lactic acid buildup.
How much do you need of each though?
With Citrulline, we know where the top end data lies.
Malic acid, we don't.
There is research on Citrulline and Citrulline Malate, but not much data on supplementing with malic acid to replenish depleted levels as a Krebs cycle intermediary.
I don't think we can make a generalized overview on how effective the malic acid component was in the Citrulline Malate research because we can't determine if the results were derived from the malic acid, the L-Citrulline, or both.
At the end of the day, for vasodilation all you should concern yourself with is how much pure L-Citrulline is in each serving of your pre-workout supplement.
The Reason Why Supplements Are Often Underdosed
Here's the thing, there are margins in the supplement industry, and it is expensive to make a potent product and still profit off of it.
Companies selling underdosed pre-workout supplements doesn't always just boil down to the companies being cheap.
The Citrulline Malate deception is absolutely a cheap trick, but in a general context one thing I've realized is that it costs a lot to manufacture a maxed out turnkey product.
After factoring in the cost to manufacture products, paying for a customer service team, the marketing costs, credit card processing fees, sponsoring athletes, etc.
It all costs money.
At the end of the day, there has to be a profit margin for these companies, otherwise it wouldn't even be worth making a product and selling it to begin with.
And when you get into the market of turnkey formulas like pre-workouts, a company is expected to put a potent dose of every single ingredient in the product, which isn't feasible for many companies who have their budget allocated elsewhere.
This is why there are loss leader trash pre-workouts that dominate the pre-workout supplement list on Amazon.
These companies will create the lowest dosed product possible that still produces some noticeable benefit, and then blow out every other company by being a loss leader, or using deceptive tactics like the Citrulline Malate labeling tactic I described above.
Even if you have a company that doesn't have a lot of overhead, it's very unlikely to be within their budget to produce a truly maxed pre-workout formula with a top end dose of PURE L-Citrulline (not Citrulline mixed with malic acid).
If you ever see a truly high-dosed Citrulline based product, it is typically a straight up L-Citrulline product sold on its own, or is in a pump formula with just a few ingredients in it.
It is simply not feasible for 99% of companies to put out a product maxed out in all aspects.
And this is where I see a giant hole in the supplement industry that I can fit into.
Gorilla Mode Pre-Workout Formula
Many of you guys have been asking me when my pre-workout will launch.
I've been blessed with a great opportunity with Gorilla Mind LLC.
Our overhead is incredibly low because we actually share a manufacturing facility and warehouse with Happy Hippo Herbals.
We also have employees that work for both companies, reducing our expenses even more.
We also don't do any marketing at all as of now, because all of our sales to date have been organically driven by Chris, Mike, myself, and other affiliates in our circle that have helped push the brand's reach.
We literally have not spent a dollar on sponsored athletes, sponsored posts, or anything like that as of now.
Because of this, it gives me A LOT more leeway in my formulation limitations.
Our budget for formulation is WAY higher than most supplement companies who are owned and operated by businessmen who just want to make money and don't actually have any organic reach on their own, and rely on sponsored athletes on salary to push their products.
Gorilla Mode is in manufacturing right now and will have the highest dose of pure L-Citrulline per serving in the entire supplement industry, as well as maxed out dosages of every other ingredient in the formula as well.
This will be a game changer product.
I shake my head every time I see (insert famous influencer name here) launch their own supplement company and then talk about why their company is better and different than the rest.
They aren't, and they don't even know what the f*ck they're selling half the time.
They employ others to manufacture their products, and they have no idea what goes into making an effective product.
I think it is blatantly obvious when these famous influencers talk about why their products are so great exactly why their product is going to be trash.
They don't even know how their products work, because they don't use them and didn't formulate them, and they have to pay the overhead involved with having a team under them who is responsible for all of that.
I will release the full formula in a dedicated post when the time comes, and if you want to be notified when it is ready for launch I strongly advise that you sign up for my mailing list if you aren't already.
Citrulline Vs Arginine
One of the most well known pump ingredients is Arginine.
The problem with L-Arginine is that it is very ineffective at increasing Nitric Oxide synthesis.
Logically, you would assume that taking Arginine would be the most effective way to increase Arginine levels in the body.
However, this is not the case.
Oral L-Arginine is taken up and metabolized by the liver so much that it does not actually effectively increase Arginine levels, and it may even be unsafe to use because of how much excessive urea it yields [R].
L-Citrulline bypasses the liver and passes freely to the kidneys where it is metabolized to Arginine [R].
The most effective supplement that can be used to increase Arginine levels in the body to improve cardiovascular and metabolic health outcomes is L-Citrulline [R].
L-Citrulline supplementation has shown to lower blood pressure and provide atherogenic-endothelial protection [R].
When it comes to NO precursors to get more vascular, nothing beats an efficacious dose of pure L-Citrulline.
PDE5 Inhibitors – Cialis (Tadalafil)
PDE5 inhibitors like Cialis and Viagra are commonly overlooked because they are thought to just be erectile dysfunction medications.
Out of all of the common PDE5 inhibitors, Cialis is by far my favorite because of its long half-life (Viagra's half-life is only 4 hours), and its' efficacy is not inhibited by taking it on a full stomach vs an empty stomach.
Cialis works by inhibiting phosphodiesterase type 5 (hence being categorized as a PDE5 inhibitor) and acting as a potent vasodilator, allowing the user to achieve and sustain an erection with much greater ease.
PDE5 inhibitors don't just increase circulation and blood flow to your Johnson though.
They increase circulation everywhere.
Phosphodiesterase type 5 (PDE5) is an enzyme found primarily in the smooth muscle of the corpus cavernosum that selectively cleaves and degrades cyclic guanosine monophosphate (cGMP) to 5′-guanosine monophosphate (5′-GMP) [R].
PDE5 inhibitors are similar in structure to cGMP and work by competitively binding to PDE5, consequently inhibiting cGMP hydrolysis.
The net result of this is the potentiation of the effects of Nitric Oxide in the body.
Cialis And L-Citrulline Pre-Workout Stack
So, with a PDE5 inhibitor we are enhancing the effects of NO in the body, you can just imagine what combining a PDE5 inhibitor with a potent NO precursor will do for vascularity and pumps.
This is where combining a high dose of L-Citrulline becomes multiple fold more effective.
I know a lot of bodybuilders who take a small dose of Cialis every day simply for the blood pressure lowering effect.
More vasodilation equates to better circulation, which equates to lower blood pressure.
This also results in the user getting more vascular.
Basically, Cialis will result in lowered blood pressure, better erections, better pumps and more vascularity.
By inhibiting PDE5 with Cialis and cranking NO through the roof with a high dose of pure L-Citrulline, we can create the most potent pre-workout stack for mind-blowing pumps and vascularity.
10-20 mg of Cialis with 6-10 grams of L-Citrulline 30 minutes prior to training in conjunction with a great diet is one of the most potent stacks you can use to get more vascular.
Disclaimer: The information included in this article is intended for entertainment and informational purposes only. It is not intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice.