How To Make Your Veins Show

17 Natural Ways To Increase Vascularity

By: Jeremy Fox, CNC, CPTPublished: April 28, 2021

Visible veins are associated with a high level of fitness and are therefore considered desirable by some people. But what do you do when you can’t see your veins or they’re barely visible?

In this article, I’m going to explain how to make your veins show with 15 practical tips that I’ve used myself and with clients. If you follow these steps, you will have prominent, even bulging veins!

How To Make Your Veins Show

What Makes Veins Visible?

Visible veins, also called vascularity, has a lot to do with genetics. Some people are naturally more veiny than others due to the thickness of their skin, muscle tone, and the size of their veins.

That being said, everyone has the ability to increase their vascularity. In the long run, the best way to make your veins show is by reducing body fat, increasing muscle size, and eliminating excess water from under your skin.

In addition, you can temporarily make your veins more prominent by increasing blood flow and using other tricks. Each of these areas will be discussed in more detail below.

How To Make Your Veins Show

  • Decrease body fat
  • Gain muscle mass & density
  • Eliminate excess subcutaneous water
  • Increase blood flow
  • Other temporary tricks

The first place most people see veins is in their hands, forearms, or upper arms. Even a single bicep vein can show people you’re in good shape.

As you progress with your fitness, you may see veins in other areas too. Such as your calves, thighs, shoulders, and even your abs.

How To Make Your Veins Show 2

The roadmap of large veins and crisscrossing small veins that you can see when you reduce body fat and subcutaneous water and get your blood flowing.

How To Make Your Veins Show By Losing Fat

The most likely reason you can’t see your veins is that you have a layer of fat between your veins and the surface of your skin. Also called subcutaneous fat. Even if you’re relatively lean, a small amount of fat under your skin will hide your veins.

Results vary by individual, but for men, vascularity becomes more prominent as you approach 10% body fat. And veins really start to pop when you hit single digits. For women, veins can start to show when you get into the teens for body fat. Although they usually won’t get as prominent as men’s veins.

In order to lower body fat, you need to focus on energy expenditure, calorie intake, and carbs.

How To Make Your Veins Show Body Fat

This is how vascular I am at various levels of body fat. For most men, the tipping point is getting below 10%. But every individual will vary.

1. Do Cardio

One of the best ways to burn body fat is to burn more calories. And cardiovascular exercise like jogging or cycling burns the highest percentage of calories from stored body fat.

High-intensity interval training (HIIT) is popular due to the fact that it burns more calories in less time. But low intensity steady-state (LISS) actually burns more calories from fat per minute.

HIIT vs LISS: Which Is Better For Fat Loss & Fitness

2. Eat Fewer Calories Than You Burn

Also called a calorie deficit, eating fewer calories than you burn forces your body to tap into stored fat for energy. Most people know this, but they end up cutting calories way too much, which results in muscle loss and metabolic damage.

To prevent muscle loss, you should target a calorie deficit of around 20%. So if you burn 3,000 calories per day, you should eat 20% less than that, which is 2,400 calories. Although this will vary by individual and goal.

Try My Free Calorie Deficit Calculator

3. Use Carb Cycling

Another way to burn fat is to eat fewer carbs. Since carbs are a source of energy, eating less means your body has to burn more fat.

But, as with calories, you shouldn’t cut carbs entirely, especially when you’re trying to preserve lean mass. Instead, simply eat lower carbs when you’re less active and higher carbs when you’re more active.

Adjusting your carb intake to your activity level is called carb cycling.

How To Make Your Veins Show By Adding Muscle Mass

Even if you have relatively low body fat, your veins might not show if you don’t have toned, dense muscles. The reason is that the swelling and hardening of your muscles pushes the veins closer to the surface where they’re more visible.

In order to build muscle, you need to focus on lifting weights and eating enough calories and protein.

How To Make Your Veins Show Lifting Weights

4. Lift Weights

When it comes to building muscle, resistance training is a must. That’s because it’s the best form of exercise for stimulating a growth response from muscle tissue.

The tiny muscle fiber tears that result from lifting weights cause your muscles to adapt by growing bigger, stronger, and denser. And that also causes those muscle groups to become more vascular.

5. Eat Enough Calories

In order to build muscle from lifting weights, you need to eat at least as many calories as you burn. Or even be in a slight calorie surplus. That extra energy is what your body uses to create new muscle.

Of course, you can’t be in a deficit and a surplus at the same time. So it’s a good idea to focus on fat loss and muscle gain separately. Trying to do both at the same time is called body recomposition and it results in slower progress.

Once you lose the fat, gradually bump up your calories to gain muscle while maintaining lower body fat. This is called a lean bulk.

How To Make Your Veins Show Calorie Surplus

6. Increase Protein Intake

Many studies have shown that a higher protein intake results in greater lean muscle gains1. That’s because protein provides the building blocks your body needs to build new muscle.

Often, trainers suggest eating 1 gram of protein per pound of bodyweight. But this can be way off. Instead, it’s better to base protein intake on how much lean mass you have.

Find Your Target With This Protein Intake Calculator

How To Make Your Veins Show By Getting Rid Of Water Retention

Body fat and muscle mass are the obvious ways to make your veins show. But did you know there is also water stored between your skin and veins? Excess subcutaneous water hides your veins, making you look puffy and bloated.

In order to make your veins show you have to get rid of water retention. To do this, you need to focus on hydration, sodium intake, and food choices.

How To Make Your Veins Show Get Rid Of Water Retention

7. Drink More Water

As strange as it sounds, drinking more water is the easiest way to reduce water retention and make your veins show.

Dehydration occurs when you lose more water than you take in. When that happens, your kidneys conserve what’s left by re-absorbing water from urine and other places, causing puffiness.

So drinking enough water to stay hydrated is key to reduce water retention. But the amount of water you need depends on your body size and activity level.

How Much Water Should You Drink Per Day? Water Intake Calculator

8. Decrease Sodium Intake

Another reason your body holds on to water is eating too much salty food – because water follows sodium. That means, the more sodium you consume, the more water you retain.

And the reverse is also true. You can reduce water retention by decreasing sodium intake. I’ve found that a sodium target equal to 1/2 of your daily calorie intake works best for reducing water retention.

9. Healthy Food Choices

Inflammation from your diet can also cause you to retain water. Most often, the culprits are dairy and gluten. But you could be sensitive to other foods, even if you didn’t have a problem before.

In addition to removing inflammatory foods, you can also add anti-inflammatory foods which help get rid of water retention. Such as fruits, vegetables, nuts, and healthy fats.

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How To Make Your Veins Show By Increasing Blood Flow

The entire purpose of your veins is to transport blood around your body. So by increasing the amount of blood flowing through your veins, you make them larger and more visible.

In order to increase blood flow, you need to focus on body temperature, exercises, and certain supplements.

How To Make Your Veins Show Workout

These photos were taken only a couple of hours apart before and after a workout. If you look closely at the photo on the right, you can see more veins showing in my forearms, upper arms, and shoulders. This is the effect of exercise on blood flow and vascularity.

10. Stay Warm

If you’ve ever had visible veins, you’ve probably noticed they disappear when you’re cold. This is your body’s way of preserving heat. Therefore, to make your veins show, your body needs to be warm.

Obviously, your body temperature depends on the temperature of your surroundings. But you can help your veins be more visible by warming up with long sleeves or layers while you exercise.

11. Get A Pump

During resistance training exercise your body transports more blood to the working muscles in order to provide the energy and nutrients they need to sustain activity. This increase in blood flow is called “the pump” and it makes your veins more visible.

The best way to get a pump is by using isolation exercises that target specific muscle groups like your biceps. Then perform reps with a weight you can handle for 10-15 reps before failing.

12. Use Blood Flow Restriction Training (BFR)

If you want to take your pump to the next level, you can try blood flow restriction training. Restriction sounds like the opposite of increasing flow. But you’re actually only restricting flow out of the muscle.

By wrapping a band around the top of a limb, you allow blood to travel into the muscle via the arteries. But blood can’t flow back out through the veins. This makes the veins swell up with blood. And there are other advantages besides just a huge pump.

How To Make Your Veins Show Blood Flow Restriction

After a set using blood flow restriction, your veins will really pop. While this effect is temporary, it may strengthen veins and make them more prominent over time. It’s also a good way to stimulate the muscle using lighter loads.

13. Take L-Arginine (or L-Citrulline)

Finally, you can increase blood flow by taking certain supplements before you work out. L-arginine is an amino acid that relaxes blood vessels and allows more blood to pass through. This temporary increases vascularity and the pump.

L-citrulline works similarly to arginine to extend the pump but you can take one or the other. An ideal amount is anywhere from 2-6 grams about 30 minutes prior to training.

DIY Homemade Pre-Workout Recipes

How To Make Your Veins Show Arginine

Other Temporary Tricks

In addition to increasing blood flow using the methods just listed, you can also make your veins show in the short term using a few other tricks.

Some of these tricks include saunas, massages, and certain foods and drinks. Of course, this works best if you already have relatively low body fat.

How To Make Your Veins Show 3

14. Sit In A Sauna

Saunas actually help your veins show in two of the ways already mentioned. First, they pull excess water from under your skin in the form of sweat. And second, they super heat your body which brings the veins to the surface.

I like to hop in the sauna after a workout when my body is already warm to really sweat out the excess water. Another nice thing about saunas is that they bring out veins all over your body at the same time, even legs and calves.

How To Make Your Veins Show Sauna

15. Get A Massage

Perhaps another unexpected way to make veins show is a relaxing massage. A good masseuse gets your body to relax and release tension. This can result in increased blood flow and a temporary increase in vascularity.

I took the picture below a few minutes after getting a massage because the veins in my calves were bulging more than ever! This is a good sign that blood is circulating all over your body.

How To Make Your Veins Show Massage

16. Drink A Glass Of Wine

This next one isn’t something where you can drink a glass of wine every night and expect to get visible veins. But when you’re already lean, a little bit of wine acts as a vasodilator and makes your veins more pronounced.

Some bodybuilders actually sip wine before going onstage for this reason. But be careful, because when you drink too much wine or alcohol, it becomes a vasoconstrictor and shrinks your veins.

17. Eat A Big Meal

Lastly, a calorie-dense meal with carbs, fat, and sodium can cause a temporary increase in vascularity almost like a mini-workout. But, like with wine, this one only works in moderation if you’re already lean.

And, if you’re super lean, you may even see ab veins after a big meal!

How To Make Your Veins Show Big Meal

Key Takeaways

  • Low body fat (<10% for men, <18% for women) is key to show your veins
  • Resistance training builds muscle size and density which shows more veins
  • Getting rid of water retention helps to reveal hidden veins
  • Increasing blood flow makes veins bigger and easier to see
  • Other tricks can temporarily increase vascularity


Before you can expect to see your veins, you have to reduce body fat and build muscle. After that, you can use strategies like flushing excess water and increasing blood flow to make your veins stand out.

If big veins aren’t your thing, don’t worry. You can get in great shape without being super vascular too.

The key is proper diet and exercise. Check out some of my other related articles for everything you need to know to improve your body and health.

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