Recently a picture of Pawel Poljanski’s legs was a real hit on social media.
There was a lot of fuzz about the veins popping out. But what is exactly is this phenomenon? And is it healthy?
Low fat percentage
Let’s temper the hype by saying that Poljanski’s legs are “perfectly normal”. As a professional cyclist, Poljanski has an extremely low body fat percentage, probably no more than 6 to 8 percent. Although this is not very common,
This is exactly what happens to ALL humans after heavy physical effort in damp conditions.
Not visable on the average Joe because most people have a lot of body fat. Even if they are not obese. A “normal” slim gentleman hovers around 15%
Way more blood
Through years of intense training, an athlete has also optimized the oxygen interchange in his or hers blood. The muscles receive enough oxygen through the blood and afterwards the blood is transported back to the heart and lungs through the veins.
The veins are not bigger but fuller: more blood is transported because the muscles demand more oxygen.
When the picture was taken, Poljanski literally endured a heavy ride from Le Puy-en-Velay to Romans-sur-Isère. (Tour de France)
His leg muscles screamed for blood and oxygen.
An untrained person has about five litres of blood, usually about 25 ml per pound. Top athletes can have a total of up to 80ml per pound, or 15 percent of their entire body weight. Poljanski has twice as much blood in his body as compared to non-athletes.
In short, a trained athlete whose leg muscles shouted for blood after massive effort and whose veins are easily visible. Scary, but perfectly normal…