M&S Talks To Physique Superman Brandan Fokken
What are your major accomplishments?
- 2010 Fargo Upper Midwest 2010 light heavy 3rd place
- 2010 Minneapolis Gopher State Classic 2010 light heavy 1st place
- 2011 Fargo Upper Midwest 2011 heavy weight 1st place
- 2011 Minneapolis Gopher State Classic 2011 Physique 2nd place
- 2011 NPC USA’s Physique tall class 16th out of 32
- 2011 Muscle and Fitness Athlete Challenge Online Winner
- 2011 Muscle and Fitness model contest “Olympia expo” 4th out of 53
- 2011 Minnesota State North Star Physique mixed class 3rd overall
- 2011 Photo Vision model
- 2011 World Physique magazine competitor of the month and “promoting greatness” winner
What is your athletic background, and how did you get involved with bodybuilding?
I have loved sports my entire life and always had aspirations of being big and strong. I was a naturally gifted athlete and participated in baseball, basketball, and football. I was that guy that even went all out in gym class. When it came to weight lifting, I just wasn’t good at it, so starting my freshman year of high school I really put in the time and effort to make myself better.
I loved the sport of bodybuilding, and followed the sport through high school. All through my 20’s I did the same and always talked about doing a show, but didn’t really know where to begin. My friend Trevor Larsen decided to do his first show and tried talking me into doing one with him.
I talked to my friend Ned Sacipovic and asked for his help. Ned has more experience in the sport than anyone I know, so if anyone could help me it was him. He said he could get me ready, so I got started. I did my first bodybuilding show at the age of 30. I competed in light heavy and eventually made it up to the heavy weight class.
After my first and last heavy weight competition under the advice of my trainer Ned I made the switch to Men’s Physique and have done that ever since. I felt the class fit me better and I was ready for something new. Although at my core, I will always appreciate bodybuilding and love the sport, I am now putting all my energy into this new class.
I love the camaraderie probably the most about the sport. Getting to know other like-minded people, learning from others, and being motivated by but also motivating others. As a whole I love the fitness lifestyle. What I don’t like are haters. People that try to bring others down for trying to better themselves. Passing judgment on people assuming they know who they are and what they are about without knowing anything about them.
People assume too much based on limited information, how someone looks, what someone else says about them, etc. When in reality the people they are trying to bring down are probably very different than how they are being portrayed.
What keeps you motivated?
I look at and read a lot of positive quotes and literature, study people with drive and ambition, and try and better myself through their example. I also feed off of the people who say I can’t do something; I’ll do almost anything to prove those people wrong. I look to my family and friends for strength; they are always there for me and a great source of motivation.
Who were your heroes growing up and how did they help inspire you to get involved with lifting?
That would be Superman. That may sound odd to some people, but due to the way I grew up I needed that “hero” in my life. I had a very turbulent childhood and went through a lot of things kids should never have to. Nobody messed with Superman, and when they did…they lost. Strength meant that he couldn’t be hurt, and I was hurt a lot and wanted to be like him so I wouldn’t be anymore.
Arnold Schwarzenegger is my all-time favorite bodybuilder. His physique was out of this world. Arnold in my opinion is the father of modern bodybuilding, and is an example of what I try to follow. Arnold truly is the American dream; he came to America barely even able to speak English. He succeeded in everything that he went after, bodybuilding, acting, real estate mogul, Governor, etc.
I think that Arnold had a great understanding of what the human body is capable of and knew that with a strong mind he could achieve, and has achieved everything he set his sights on. He was able to be the best in an era where the nutrition, supplementation, and overall knowledge of the sport was in its infancy, yet even today you don’t see people walking looking like he did way back then.
What are your future goals, dreams and plans?
I want to be successful in all that I do. My first and foremost job is at POET. Poet is the largest ethanol Bio refiner in the world of which I am the corporate wellness coordinator. I would like to educate as many people as I can within our corporation and introduce a healthy lifestyle to everyone here at POET. We currently have 27 plants nationwide, so I have my work cut out for me in reaching everyone, but I love what I do and am blessed to be put in a position to be able and work with and help so many people. So I am determined to make an impact at POET.
I am already a guest speaker, but would like to get more involved in that and speak in front of more groups. I would like to continue to educate myself and pass my knowledge onto others as others have to me. I would like to continue to train competitors for shows and help them achieve their goals.
I would also like to contribute to more websites and magazines and possibly maybe even write a book someday. I guess at the root of everything I want to be credible, and truly make an impact in others’ lives through helping them obtain all they want to on their own fitness journeys.
What does your current training and split look like, and what do you like most about it?
- Morning fasted cardio – 30/45 minutes 5- 6 days a week
I’m usually lifting heavier at the beginning of show prep and taper the weight down and take the reps up as I get closer.
Day 1: Chest
- Incline Bench Press: 5 sets 20,12,10,10,8
- Machine Flies: 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 flies: 4 sets 15,12,10,10
- Abs- pick 3 exercises- 3 to 4 sets per movement/ 25-50 reps per set
- 10-15 minutes on bike or treadmill
Day 2: Arms
- Standing dumbbell curls: 4 sets 12,10,8,8
- Standing cable rope pull downs: 5 sets 15,12,10,10,8
- Standing hammer curls: 4 sets 12,10,8,8
- Standing Triceps push down: 5 sets 15,12,10,10,8
- Standing straight bar arm curls: 4 sets 10,10,8,8
- Dips on bench: 4 sets of at least 20 reps 20,20,20,20
- Seated concentration curls or seated machine curls: 3 sets- failure
- Single arm reverse cable pull downs: 3 sets of at least 20 20,20,20
- 10 – 15 minutes on bike or treadmill
Day 3: Legs
- Leg Extensions: 4 sets of 25 – 50 reps 50,40,35,25
- Smith Machine or regular Squats: 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
- Lunges: 4 sets 20 “10 per leg” reps
- Seated Leg Curls: 4 sets 25,20,15,15
- Seated Calf Raises: 4 sets of 25
- Standing Calf Raises: 4 sets of 25
- Abs – pick 3 exercises- 3 to 4 sets per movement/ 25-50 reps per set
- 10-15 minutes on bike or treadmill
Day 4: Shoulders/Traps
- Dumbbell Lateral Raises: 4 sets 15,12,10,10
- Smith Machine or seated dumbbell Shoulder Presses: 5 sets 15,12,10,10
- Dumbbell front Raises: 3 sets 15,12,10
- Dumbbell Shrugs: 5 sets 20,20,15,12,10
- Upright rows: 4 sets 15,12,12,10
- Seated rear delt machine, cables, or dumbbells: 4 sets 15,12,12,10
- 10-15 minutes on bike or treadmill
Day 5: Back
- Wide-Grip Pull ups: 4 sets 15,15,12,10
- Seated hammer reverse grip pull downs: 4 sets 12,12,10,10
- Seated Cable pull backs: 4 sets 12,12,10,8
- Machine Lat pull downs: 5 sets 15,12,10,10,8
- Standing front pull downs: 4 sets 20,20,15,12
- Hyper extensions: 4 sets 20,20,15,15
- Abs – pick 3 exercises- 3 to 4 sets per movement/ 25-50 reps per set
- 10-15 minutes on bike or treadmill
How often do you perform cardio?
I do many variations of cardio. It also depends on where I am at in my season. I will do a fast paced walk on a very high incline *not holding on*. I may do the elliptical, or do intervals on the treadmill. I like to change things up and may do an all-out HIT workout to keep my heart rate up and run sprints after, or even jump rope.
I believe you need to keep your body guessing or you will plateau and not make the changes you want to make. In the offseason I may be doing cardio 3 times a week, on season 5-7 times a week just depending on the condition I am trying to obtain.
What are your thoughts on fasted cardio?
I never used to do fasted cardio. I always did cardio later in the day until my trainer recommended it to me. I feel that I make a greater change doing the fasted cardio first thing in the morning, and I actually feel better when I am finished. I feel relaxed and ready for my day.
There are studies that say one or the other is better for you, I think you have to decide for yourself which you prefer and pay attention to what your body is telling you and if it is changing or not when you do different cardio variations.
What are some of the most common mistakes made when someone is trying to build muscle and/or get ripped?
I think the most common mistake is diet. People don’t eat what they should be eating. They may eat too little or too much or just not stick to a plan altogether. If you don’t know what to eat then odds are the rest of your plan will fail.
Over-training and under-training are two that are also common. Some people will do so much cardio that they burn more muscle than they are trying to and don’t make the progress they want. People also will do too little cardio and not burn enough fat to get ripped.
Another mistake is that some people will go spend a fortune on supplements and assume that now that they are taking it, they will look just like the person representing the product in the pictures. The truth is those people have worked hard for years to obtain that level of fitness and it didn’t come by just taking some supplements. I am a firm believer in supplementation and wouldn’t be where I am at without it, but if you don’t have everything else working with those supplements, you will never have the results you want.
What are some of the biggest training mistakes you’ve made?
My biggest mistakes would first of all be bench pressing every day in high school. This is how kids create their hierarchy in the gym, and I fell right into that and did the same thing. My second mistake would be not educating myself in diet from an early age. I understood the dynamic of if you eat a lot you get big, but beyond that I didn’t know much else.
I have also trained injured many times early on and created far worse problems for myself than what I originally started with. When you’re hurt, take a break or work around it, it’s not worth having to take 2, 4, 6, months of even a year off from training and in some cases longer.
Do you have any gym, muscle building or fitness pet peeves?
Sweat all over the place and just leave it for the next person to worry about it.
Everyone is at a different level in the gym. You have beginners all the way to experts in the gym at any given time, but you are all trying to do the same thing- Better yourselves. So many times someone will walk around like a tough guy, and try to get the attention of everyone else. They will stare people down, and make people feel uncomfortable in a place where they belong just as much as anyone else. It’s even worse when this is done as a group.
You give serious lifters a bad name and make yourself look like a jerk. You belittle others, take away their confidence, and make a place that should be a sanctuary a very uncomfortable place. Treat everyone with respect; you were once where they were. This will offer a better gym experience for everyone.
People will tell you all day long how hard and intense their cardio regimen is. The truth is they put the incline up as high as the can get it, and then hold on for dear life as if they about to get bucked off the machine. This is cardio, not bull riding.
These people throw their back out of alignment, stress their shoulders and the rest of their body, and really don’t get much of a cardio workout. Set your parameters in the realm of what you are actually capable of doing. You won’t look ridiculous while doing your cardio, and you will actually benefit your body.
What does your post-workout nutrition and supplementation look like?
I take in about 40 grams of whey protein and a banana with 10 grams of glutamine and BCAAs.
What does your off-season bulking (eating) plan look like?
I eat about every 2.5 to 3 hours. I also have a shake and a banana after my training session. In my on-season diet, I taper my carbs down as I go into the show. I also have carb cycled in the past but for my next contest I will do a gradual deplete.
- Meal 1: 12 egg whites and a P28 bagel.
- Meal 2: Two pieces of P28 bread and a table spoon of Nuts ‘N More Almond Butter.
- Meal 3: 8oz. chicken or 99% lean turkey – 1 cup veggies – 1 cup brown rice.
- Meal 4: 8oz. chicken or 99% lean turkey -1 cup brown rice – a tbs. of Nuts ‘N More Almond Butter.
- Meal 5: 8 oz. sirloin or flank steak – 1 cup veggies – 6 -8 oz. sweet potato.
- Meal 6: Casein protein shake 40g and 2 tbs. Nuts ‘N More Almond Butter.
How do you prepare meals? Do you cook daily or cook for the week?
I don’t cook anything in bulk. I am a compulsive person when it comes to scheduling, so I wake up early and cook my first few meals of the day and because of the work schedule I have I go home for lunch and make my next few and cook again when I get home. I actually like to cook so cooking this much every day doesn’t bother me, I like the routine. I periodically will cook for an entire day, but never beyond that unless I am traveling.
What does your current supplementation plan look like?
There are a lot of products on the market, and some great ones, but for myself I recommend Force Factor supplements, their entire line is GREAT! They are also priced right and offer a lot of knowledge/science that backs up what they sell.
Which athletes do you admire any why?
I admire anyone that has self-confidence, someone that goes against what others tell them they have to do to do what they feel is right. You can be inspired by athletes that are total beginners to the most advanced. You just have to open your eyes and be open to it.
If I had to name people I would have to say at this moment, that although many people inspire me there are two people above all that have really lit a fire within me that I haven’t felt for quite a long time. One of them being IFBB pro Craig Capurso and the other being IFBB pro Brooke Erickson. I had the opportunity to get to know these two people in LA earlier this year.
I could go on and on all day about how they motivate me and why I admire them, but Ill make it simple. In a dark world they are both beacons of hope and light. They are two people that know what they want and don’t let society decide for them. They are willing to pass on their knowledge, and understand that they possess a gift and are able to reach many people and they have the power to change others’ lives, and they do it every day.
I am proud to know them, to call them my team mates, and proud of both of them for how they handle themselves, their success, and how they take the time to use that success for good.
Workout music – Don’t care, or MP3 player?
I don’t usually care about what I listen to as long as it has a beat. I’m normally thinking about the exercise I am currently doing, what I’ll be doing next, and thinking about goals, etc. that I have set for myself and how to achieve them. You could say I literally get lost in a workout and that’s my main focus. So music or no music I try to be at a 10 the whole time.
What are some of your favorite motivational quotes?
Yes, many actually. These are a few of my favorites:
- “Strength does not come from winning. Your struggles develop your strengths. When you go through hardships and decide not to surrender, that is strength.” ~ Arnold Schwarzenegger.
- “Sometimes we have to let go of the life we have planned, to have the life that is waiting for us.” ~ Joseph Campbell
- “The only one who can tell you ‘you can’t’ is you. And you don’t have to listen.”
If someone wants to connect with you, where can you be found?
Do you have any tips for someone who is looking to compete in your sport?
You need to first of all be ok with yourself at whatever you are involved in or what level you are at in anything you are doing “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.
Everything takes time; it took time to put on the weight so it will take time to take it off. Set some realistic goals and then set a big goal at the end. Enjoy each incremental goal that you have achieved on the way to your big goal and celebrate those victories on the way to a better you.
If you are having a hard time with the plan you are on, take a step back and reevaluate what you are doing and make sure the plan is right for you. Make sure your diet and workout routine fits in accordance with your goals, diet being the most important. If you’re not eating for results you will never have the success you want.
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 you’re 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. Use the resources you have and educate yourself. Make sure you are doing a routine that is right for you and you have a good diet plan in place too, nutrition is 80% of the equation. If that doesn’t work, consider hiring a trainer.
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. 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.
Favorite activities and hobbies you enjoy when away from the gym?
I love to travel; I have been to most of the states and 11 countries so far. I love to cook and eat good food. I’ll play almost any sport. I like movies, and also entertaining friends. I like spending time with family. I’m kind of a geek and like to watch documentaries and the history channel. I also write and do guest speaking. I work a lot so I don’t have much time, but when I do you can pretty much assume I’m doing one of the activities I’ve listed above.
What is the proudest moment in your bodybuilding career?
The proudest moment in my bodybuilding career was taking 3rd place in my first show. It taught me so much about myself, and it brought out so many positive things in me that I didn’t know existed. From there the moment that has surpassed that is seeing my clients and friends compete and do well…I couldn’t be prouder of them.
I am also proud of becoming a Force Factor sponsored athlete and Team Leader. They make the best supplements on the market and they give me the ability to contribute to the team and are open to my ideas and stand behind me in all that I do. After working with them I wouldn’t even consider working with another company nor take a different product line, they are that good!
My next two proudest moments are being a P28 Bread sponsored athlete and a Nuts ‘N More sponsored Athlete. P28 makes the best healthy and high protein bread on the market. They are awesome to work with and they really make you feel like you are a part of the team.
Nuts ‘N More, well what competitor doesn’t love peanut butter?! They make the best peanut and almond butter on the market. They also are a wonderful team and group of people and just like everyone else I work with, they make me feel welcome and appreciated and a part of the team.
I am truly blessed for these accomplishments and there are so many people in my life that without them, I wouldn’t be where I am at today with these moments. So thank you to all of my friends and family for all of your support over the years, it is truly appreciated.
Any final thoughts?
I would just like to thank my family and friends for always being there for me. Pointing out when I do wrong, or in some cases too much, and continually leading me back to and keeping me on a humble path.
I would also like to thank my sponsors Force Factor, P28 Bread, and Nuts ‘N More for sponsoring me and making this journey easier through your help and allowing me to reach out to all of your customers and fans to help spread the word of better health and fitness.
My Websites & Sponsors:
Rod Evans, Daniel Hanson, Reistroffer Design