Is having vascularity all that it’s cracked up to be?
All sorts of male fitness celebrities, from Arnold Schwarzenegger to The Rock, have bragged about vascularity. By some it is considered an impressive and enviable trait, to others it is off putting and grotesque. But what does it really indicate? Should we value it? Sagar Pednekar, Fitness Expert at Gold’s Gym describes why veins pop.
As one might expect, vascularity, or the visibility of veins, is a product of a number of variables. Sagar begins by breaking down basics of circulation:
“Your arteries carry blood away from your heart to the tissues in your body. Since veins pump the blood back toward your heart. When the venous outflow is slower than arterial inflow, it creates a pressure in the vein, causing the veins to pop out.”
So blood pressure is one factor, but we all know that a good pump can increase vascularity too.
“Your muscles swell while working out and the swelling in the muscles pushes the veins to the surface making them more pronounced. You must have probably noticed your veins popping when you are lifting weights which is not the case when you are doing cardio. In general, a high-rep weightlifting move like biceps curl, when you bring the weight up toward your arm triggers the biggest pump. High-intensity interval work can produce this effect.”
Sagar also makes the point that leanness lends itself to muscularity. Particularly low levels of
subcutaneous fat covering he muscle can greatly increase the appearance of veins. So in general, vascularity is a product of high blood pressure, muscle pressure, and low levels of fat. In that sense it can be a measure of fitness. But it can also be an indicator of malady. High blood pressure is not always healthy for one thing, and increases in stress hormones like cortisol or aldosterone can cause retention of water which swells veins.
“Your veins can also get engorged due to varicose veins or haemorrhoids.”
In short, vascularity can be a prized quality of any physique, but it’s not always an indicator of a healthy body.
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