Vascularity describes how prominently your veins show, and it is critical in bodybuilding, particularly when it comes to competitions. Contestants aren't judged merely on muscle size, but on symmetry, aesthetics and leanness, too. One key sign of having low body fat and being lean is a high degree of vascularity. Vascularity is also a good indicator of how you're progressing leading up to a show -- the more vascular you are, the leaner you are and the better chance you stand of placing higher.
Cut your calorie intake by 400 to 600 per day. Reducing body fat will increase vascularity; to lose body fat you need to eat fewer calories than you burn. A deficit of 400 to 600 calories daily should allow you to lose around a pound of pure fat each week without sacrificing muscle mass, writes nutritionist Lyle McDonald in "The Rapid Fat Loss Handbook." Eliminate high-calorie snacks, swap fatty meat for lean meat and reduce your servings of starchy foods in favor of vegetables.
Add cardiovascular exercise to your routine. While weight training and diet alone will burn fat, performing extra cardio will speed up the process. Cardio also increases vascularity by boosting blood flow around the body, and reduces water retention under your skin, notes former professional bodybuilder and author of "The Lean Body Transformation" Lee Labrada. This pulls your skin tighter so it looks thinner, which increases muscle definition and vascularity.
Limit your carbohydrate intake in the week leading up to your competition or photo shoot, advises bodybuilder and nutritional scientist Dr. Layne Norton. This draws water from your muscle cells and skin, making your veins more prominent. On show day, eat a meal containing at least 150 grams of carbs six hours before you go on stage. Your muscles will be extra receptive to carbohydrates after a week of depletion, and filling the cells with carbs will make them appear bigger and more vascular. Eat fast-digesting carbs such as rice cakes with jelly, sports drinks, fruit and sugary cereals. Norton also recommends having a high-fat meal just before show time to further boost vascularity. These techniques should only be used by advanced competitive bodybuilders.