Brandan Fokken’s view on life will change yours if you, too, can feel the power of positivity!
BY THE EDITORS
Nothing comes easy in life. If you’ve ever seen someone living large and loving every minute of it, chances are it wasn’t always that way for them. For Brandan Fokken, that’s definitely the case. One look at this man and you’ll immediately see the picture of fitness, success and happiness—but nothing was ever handed to him. In fact, Brandan shaped his career, personality and success in very much the same was as his physique: Hard work! Brandan Fokken is a product of his own understanding that living life with purpose, fitness, giving back and positivity brings about greater returns and overall health and happiness. Here’s how his life’s mission can shape yours and why his journey could be a mirror image to yours, too, if you put in the work and stay positive!
IRON MAN: How important was fitness for you growing up?
Brandan Fokken: I came from a really tough background. I moved around a lot, we didn’t have any money, etc. So for me, fitness was a way to belong, to fit in and to make friends. Along with that, due to my upbringing, from an early age I equated muscles to not being hurt, which was attractive to me because I was put through a lot. I looked up to Superman, Arnold and Hulk Hogan. They were all big and strong and in my mind couldn’t be hurt. So I wanted to be just like them.
IM: Tell us about your journey into bodybuilding competitions.
BF: I started weight training at the age of 14. I was tall and skinny and not strong whatsoever. Over the years I slowly improved and, by my 20s, I was really pushing big weights and physically was about as muscular as I could get. I, however, knew very little about diet and or competing. At the age of 30 a friend of mine who was a coach and longtime competitor talked me into doing my first show. I didn’t have a clue what I was doing, but took the things he told me and implemented it into my plan. I ended up competing and loved it and have been hooked on the lifestyle ever since.
IM: How important is giving back to the community for you?
BF: It’s huge and a big part of who I am. I say that positivity and good karma are cousins. The more positive you are, the more good karma comes back into your life. I believe that if you are able to help, you should. So, between working with many charities, speaking at school or corporations, bringing awareness to various institutions, mentoring and always looking for different ways to give back, I feel that I am paying back from an industry that has given me so much. As I mentioned, I didn’t grow up with much and now that I am where I am at in my life, I want to help others do good in our community, find their own “greatness” and show them that with hard work, positivity and the willingness to give back that they can accomplish anything they want to in life.
IM: What are your workouts really like?
BF: My workouts tend to be longer and drawn out. I don’t go with crazy intensity the majority of the time. I’m more about staying healthy and without injury and maintain at this point. I do mid weight and a lot of sets and reps, on average, and I hit the muscle from as many angles as I can.
IM: How did you get involved with Dymatize?
BF: I was a big fan of Dymatize for years. I used their products and really liked them. After I competed for the first time and started looking for sponsors, I reached out to them first. I was literally nobody in the industry. I had only competed a few times, hadn’t done any fitness shoots, had no following, etc. Every company out there blew me off except Dymatize. They were extremely nice and actually sent me out supplements a few times.
Fast forward years later [and] I had worked with many companies as a sponsored athlete. I had made the choice to step away from a relationship to look for a new one. I reached out to Bodybuilding.com and told them what I wanted to do. They took a week or so and got back to me with some companies that they could see me represent. They were all big name companies and were all interested in me, which for me was crazy to think because I still view myself as the same guy I was when I first got into all of this. Dymatize was one of the companies that they mentioned and they said that they were very excited to talk to me.
I had my first phone call with them, which went great. I knew right then that they were the company for me, and that I didn’t want to work with anyone else. I didn’t even talk to the other companies and signed a long-term contract with Dymatize. They will be my final home when it comes to representing a supplement company. I have no want to ever leave and believe in them, their products, their mission/vision and all that they do. I am proud to work with them and be a part of their team.
IM: How does Dymatize help you achieve your fitness goals?
BF: My sponsor first and foremost has stood behind me in everything I’ve done. That includes taking time off when my son, Eastan, was born. They have helped me give back in more ways than one. They have given me many amazing opportunities I wouldn’t have had without them, they motivate me to always be my best and challenge me to work hard, be a good person and an upstanding member of their team. I never want to be in a position to let them down, so I am always motivated to work hard, be in my best shape and represent them the best that I can.
IM: What do you love most about training people?
BF: I love the simple things most. I really like the challenge of doing competition prep and dialing someone in for their contest, but the simplicity of working with someone new to fitness that appreciates every little change, and they are ecstatic about the process, trumps that. I’m blessed to work with a variety of people and on totally different spectrums of fitness, health and well being and truly enjoy all aspects of helping someone become the best version of themselves.
IM: Tell us more about your online personal training offerings.
BF: I have been training for about half of my life. I started to do personal training about 16 years ago and then moved away from that and into online training about 6-7 years ago. I do everything from macro plans, meal planning, competition prep, workout plans, cardio plans, body transformation plans and everything in between. I love a challenge and really love helping others. I employ two trainers under me who both utilize my same methods to help people get in shape. Jordan Wheeler and Jeff Davis have enabled me to grow my business and also service those people that I would normally have to decline because I am always full with clients. I tend to only take on 12-15 people at a time, as I want to be able to give them my attention 110% and never let them feel like they are a number.
IM: What’s your approach to training people on your website and how does it differ from others?
BF: There are too many people out there just racking up clients, sending them cookie cutter plans, treating them as a number and a method to make money. I find that sad and am proud to say myself nor do my trainers take part in those methods. We run Fokken Strong Training with integrity and are proud of the work we do. You can find my training at www.brandanfokken.com.
IM: What’s the most important thing people don’t realize about your success?
BF: That it came later in life. I didn’t start competing until I was 30. I got my first sponsor at 32 and it snowballed from there. It took hundreds of hours of work, lots of failure and a lot of [negative answers] before I ever got a single yes.
IM: Do you have any words of wisdom that have served you well over the years that you feel can help our readers in their fitness journey?
BF: Surround yourself with positive people and people that help you along the way. Negative people will just bring you down and make it that much harder for you to achieve your goals. The people that bring you down are afraid of change, and feel that your positive attitude and hard work somehow makes them have to make those changes too, which scares people, so they will become your worst critics. Rise above that and work on you. You are the best investment you can make. Also be open to advice. Ask questions and absorb what others pass on to you. However don’t make this information “truth” as many gurus out there believe they know it all and will pass on bad advice every chance they get. Do your homework and investigate the advice you are given and find which advice best works for you.
Don’t try to be just like someone else – that’s a recipe for failure. It’s ok to look up to, learn from and be inspired by others, but don’t put yourself below them and assume they are better than you. Be you and proud of your own accomplishments. The people you admire were once not so different than you. Blaze your own trail! You can accomplish anything you want with a strong mind, strong goals and hard work. So if you want something, go get it.
IM: Is there anyone you look to for inspiration?
BF: I look to many people. I will keep it simple though and leave it with my wife and son. They inspire me to do great things, to get up at 5 am every day and grind throughout the week. Beyond them, Arnold Schwarzenegger has been my lifelong inspiration.
IM: What advice would you give to anyone wanting to make it in fitness and/or fitness competing?
BF: You need to first of all be ok with yourself in whatever you are involved in, or what level you are at in everything you do (workout routine, diet, etc.) When you are ok with yourself and love yourself, you will make more of a commitment to the betterment of you. You also won’t get discouraged when things don’t go exactly how you want them to. You will have the strength to carry on and continue to try to achieve the results you are striving for. If you don’t love yourself now and every step of the way, you definitely won’t be happy wherever it is you are going.
WEIGHT: 215 pounds
PROFESSION: Wellness Director of POET, Owner of Fokken Strong Training, Sponsored Athlete, IFBB Pro
LIVES IN: Sioux Falls, SD
SPONSORS: Dymatize, Team Bodybuilding.com Athlete, Icon Meals, Smart Shake, P28 Foods, Fitmark Bags
Day 1: Chest 8-20 reps
Barbell Incline: 5 sets 20,12,10,10,8
Machine Flye: 4 sets 15,12,10,8
Decline Hammer Machine Press: 4 set 15,12,10,8
Flat Barbell: 5 sets 15,12,10,8,6
Standing Cable Flye: 4 sets 15,12,10,10
Abs – Pick 3 exercises- 3 to 4 sets per movement/ 25-50 reps per set
Day 2: Arms
Standing Dumbbell Curl: 4 sets 12,10,8,8
Standing Cable Rope Pulldown: 5 sets 15,12,10,10,8
Standing Hammer Curl: 4 sets 12,10,8,8
Standing Triceps Pushdown: 5 sets 15,12,10,10,8
Standing Straight Bar Arm Curl: 4 sets 10,10,8,8
Dips On Bench: 4 sets of at least 20 reps 20,20,20,20
Seated Concentration Curl or Seated Machine Curl: 3 sets- failure
Single Arm Reverse Cable Pulldown: 3 sets of at least 20 20,20,20
Day 3: Legs
Leg Extension: 4 sets of 25 – 50 reps 50,40,35,25
Smith Machine or Regular Squat: 5 sets 25,20,15,10,10
Leg press (will sometimes incorporate into a workout, depends on energy):
5 sets 50,40,35,25,20
Lunge: 4 sets 20 (10 per leg) reps
Seated Leg Curl: 4 sets 25,20,15,15
Seated Calf Raise: 4 sets of 25
Standing Calf Raise: 4 sets of 25
Abs – Pick 3 exercises- 3 to 4 sets per movement/ 25-50 reps per set
Day 4: Shoulders/Traps
Dumbbell Lateral Raise: 4 sets 15,12,10,10
Smith Machine or Seated Dumbbell Shoulder Press: 5 sets 15,12,10,10
Dumbbell Front Raise: 3 sets 15,12,10
Dumbbell Shrug: 5 sets 20,20,15,12,10
Upright Row: 4 sets 15,12,12,10
Seated Rear Delt Machine, Cables or Dumbbells: 4 sets 15,12,12,10
Day 5: Back
Wide-Grip Pull-Up: 4 sets 15,15,12,10
Seated Hammer Reverse Grip Pulldown: 4 sets 12,12,10,10
Seated Cable Pull Back: 4 sets 12,12,10,8
Machine Lat Pulldown: 5 sets 15,12,10,10,8
Standing Front Pulldown: 4 sets 20,20,15,12
Hyper Extension: 4 sets 20,20,15,15
Day 6: Touch Ups
“On my sixth day I will pick two to three body parts I think that are lagging and do a touch up. I may do a circuit, or I may pick two to three exercises for each group. I really focus on the muscle and take time to make sure I’ve worked it effectively. These days I normally lift very light, strict form, high reps.”
IM: What’s your meal plan like?
BF: I don’t really track anything, but more so eat intuitively. I also have tried about every variation of dieting. Currently I have implemented an intermittent fasting approach. I don’t always follow this, but due to my schedule it fits my lifestyle well. I get about 90 percent of my food from Icon Meals, which makes meal planning extremely easy. I also am a creature of habit. I eat many of the same foods day in and day out and never get sick of them. My standard diet would look like this:
Meal 1 – 1 cup oats
1.5 cups egg whites
Post workout 1.5 scoop Dymatize Iso whey
Meal 2 – 5-6 oz protein (chicken, cod, buffalo, lean turkey- I change it up throughout the day)
1-2 cups veggies (green beans, asparagus, spaghetti squash, broccoli)
30-40 grams carbs – rice or sweet pots usually
Meal 3 – 5-6 oz protein
40-50 grams carbs
1-2 cup veggies
Meal 4 – 2 scoops Iso whey
Meal 5 – 6-8 oz protein (usually sirloin or buffalo)
40-50 grams carbs
1-2 cup veggie
Snack (I usually have this every night)
1.5- 2 cups oats 3-4 Tbsp peanut butter
Meal 6 – Protein pancake made with egg whites and Dymatize casein protein
1-2 Tbsp peanut butter