WO Interview ► Team Bodybuilding.com Athlete Brandan Fokken
Weight: 200 lbs
Zodiac Sign: Libra
Location: Sioux Falls, South Dakota
Sport: Mens Physique
Years Training: 18
Professional Affiliations: National Physique Committee (NPC)
Sponsors: Bodybuilding.com, Force Factor, P28 Bread, Nuts N’ More, Phitt Hair, Tainted Industries, Quest Nutrition
When and how did you start training?
I have loved sports my entire life and always had aspirations of being big and strong. I was a 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. l love 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.
Describe what an average day in your life is like.
I wake up, shower and then start food prep. I cook and go to the grocery store every day. It’s something I actually enjoy doing and it’s a way for me to relax (with such a hectic schedule). I then eat breakfast and take my first two meals with me to work. I start my day with my workout and then cardio after. I’ll then work until lunch. During my lunches I go to a park and walk at a fast pace for 40 mins and then back to work. I’ll then work till 6:30 and finish off with some more cardio. I go home and cook my dinner and eat. I either go for a walk or do some work out plans and diets for clients or sometimes go get coffee. I will then cook my last meal about 40-60 mins pre-bedtime and then off to bed. REPEAT.
I know this sounds boring, but I’m in show prep right now and like to have a schedule that’s easy to follow and I like the routine of it. Of course after a show I live a more normal life, but being as regimented as I am keeps me focused and driven.
Free weights or machines? What’s your preference?
I prefer free weights but will add in machines at the end of a workout when I am fatigued. I believe I get a better range of motion with free weights and use more stabilizer muscles with free weights. I feel the weight more and feel that I get a better squeeze and pump with free weights. I like to use machines when I am tired because there is less chance of injury and I feel I can push out a few extra reps without a spotter.
I believe that a lot of the newer machines on the market today really do hit and target the areas that they are supposed to work far better than the ones of the past so I have no problem adding them in periodically to a workout.
What personal workout routine has yielded the best results for you?
I feel that the most effective routine for me is dividing my body into parts and hitting them hard once in the week and then touching them up later in the week. My reps, set, and weight always change, and I incorporate different training methods into my workouts. So my answer, whatever you feel challenges you and you get results from is the most effective routine. There is really no right or wrong answer to this in my opinion.
What is your favorite workout and body-part to train?
I love doing curls and triceps extensions. I would have to say my arms would be what I am most proud of now. It used to be my chest, but that developed easily so it wasn’t hard to be proud of that body part. My arms didn’t grow right away and they have taken a lot of time and effort to shape and add size to, so I am most proud of them and have the most fun working them.
What does your cardiovascular routine consist of? How often?
I do a variation of cardiovascular exercises; 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 HIIT 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. I just finished up my “on season” so I was doing cardio pretty much every day and usually twice a day. Now, I will go to 5 days a week once a day.
We all experience days when we’d rather stay home and skip out on a workout. What keeps you motivated and focused?
I look at and read a lot of positive quotes and literature, study people with drive and ambition, and try to better myself through their example. I look to my family and friends for strength; they are always there for me and a great source of motivation.
What does your diet consist of? Any favorite cheat foods?
Brandan Fokken’s Meal Plan
Meal 1: 7-730
5 Egg Whites
3 ounce(s) Extra Lean Ground Sirloin 4%
1 piece P28 bread
Meal 2: 10-1030
0.75 cup Brown Rice – cooked
5 ounce(s) Chicken Breast
Meal 3: 1230-130
1 cup Broccoli
5 ounce(s) Chicken Breast
6 ounce(s) Yam – baked w/o skin
Meal 4: 3-330
1 table spoon Nuts ‘More Almond Butter
.75 scoop Karbolyn / 2 scoop Whey Protein
Meal 5: 630-730
½ cup Brown Rice – cooked
1 small Salad – sm. garden w/tomato
5 ounce(s) Turkey Breast
Meal 6: 930-10
1 table spoon Nuts ‘More Almond Butter
2 scoop Whey Protein
No real favorite cheat foods- I LOVE baked sweets and whatnot, but find I can overdo it when I have them so I try to stay away and eat more good foods.
How do you fend off your cravings for junk food, salt, or other unhealthy foods?
I used to get terrible cravings when I first started dieting. After doing it so long it truly does become a lifestyle. At first I chewed a TON of gum to help cravings, but over time I got used to it and actually enjoy eating the way I do. I only really have cravings now if I eat something bad, then I want more.
What supplements do you use? (If any.)
I wouldn’t be where I am at today without supplementing my diet. 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. If I were to recommend any other company I would recommend looking at and reading the reviews on Bodybuilding.com and go through them for your nutritional needs.
- Men’s multi vitamin
- Omega 3
- Performance protein
- Amino Recovery
- Vitamin D3
What are your current goals, fitness or otherwise?
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.
I also hope to hold my current sponsorships and continue to represent the companies that stand behind me in a positive way. My sponsors do a lot for me, and I do all I can to let the world know it.
What do you listen to when you Workout?
I don’t really listen to anything. I may have music going in my car on the way to the gym, but when I’m lifting music can be a hindrance. I’ve tried using an iPod in the past and found that I’m easily distracted and my train of thought gets derailed. I like to think about what I’m doing and focus on the workout. I get lost in what I’m doing and I find that works best for me. I don’t mind music in the back ground with a good beat, I can use that preparing for a set, but beyond that I’m perfectly content with thinking about my goals, the next set, or how the exercise feels as I’m doing it.
What are you most proud of?
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.
Other accomplishments that are at the top of the list would be becoming a Bodybuilding.com athlete. That was a dream come true and I’m very blessed for the opportunity.
They are an amazing group of people and I love working with them. I feel that there is no limit to where our relationship can lead. They are THE powerhouse in the fitness industry, and having them encourage you and be there for you makes you truly feel you can take on the world. So to everyone at Bodybuidling.com – THANK YOU.
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 three proudest moments are being a P28 Bread sponsored athlete, a Nuts ‘N More sponsored Athlete and becoming sponsored by Tainted Industries *apparel*.
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.
Tainted Industries makes some SICK clothing and soon you will see them all over the place along with the other companies I represent; so keep an eye open for these brands or you can find them all online.
Recently, I also became a Quest Nutrition athlete. They make the best bars out there and I’m VERY excited to be a part of their team and definitely look forward to working with them.
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. So thank you to all of my friends and family for all of your support over the years, it is truly appreciated.
Brandan Fokken’s Other Accomplishments
- 2010 Fargo Upper Midwest light heavyweight – 3rd place
- 2010 Minneapolis Gopher State Classic 2010 light heavy – 1st place
- 2011 Fargo Upper Midwest heavyweight – 1st place
- 2011 Minneapolis Gopher State Classic Physique – 2nd place
- 2011 NPC USA’s Physique tall class 16th out of 32
- 2011 Muscle and Fitness Gaspari Super Pump 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
- Dec 2011 World Physique magazine competitor of the month and “promoting greatness” – winner
- 2012 Bodybuilding.com BodySpace Spokes model – finalist
- 2012 Bodybuilding.com BodySpace spokes model contest LA expo – 5th place
- 2012 Muscle and Fitness Online Winner – *First two time winner*
- 2012 Bodybuilding.com – “Amateur of the Week July 2012”
Who inspires you the most?
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.
When I’m training for a contest and I feel like I can’t go anymore I will recite quotes in my head from Arnold Schwarzenegger. His words have pushed me through so many stalemates in my training. I have always looked up to Arnold and have tried to implement his training principals and mindset into my own training.
What are some the biggest obstacles you’ve faced in achieving your fitness goals? What sacrifices have you made along the way?
My lowest moment would be after USA’s last year — I almost died. I spent 5 days in the ICU and am lucky to be here today. I was not feeling my best at the show and after it was over I became extremely cramped up. I went back to my hotel room and just lay there the rest of the night, with an occasional cupcake, or 5, and room service to keep all my post competition cravings at bay. I felt even worse the next day and by the time I got on my flight, my body wasn’t moving how it should and I was starting to feel numb all over. When I arrived home I needed help out of the car, but just told myself it was from the show and flying and I would be okay.
I had dinner and decided to sprawl out on the floor to try and stretch myself out. I did that for a few minutes and when I tried to get up, I could not. That is when I knew it was time to go to the hospital. The doctors could not figure out what was wrong with me, so they started an IV and kept running tests. They found my potassium was at 2.0 (normal should be a 3.5-5.0). So, I was immediately admitted.
They ran tests on me all night. By morning I could not move my legs or my feet, I could not sit up by myself, and my arms barely worked. The doctor came in and told me that my potassium dropped below 2.0, my vitamin B1, D, Magnesium, and Phosphorus were all stripped from my body. My liver enzymes were very high, my blood pressure was 199/98, my resting heart rate was about 135, my blood sugar at one point was 356, I was paralyzed, and they were not exactly sure why.
By about 10:00 a.m. a priest was sent in to pray for me, which I promise is not something I wanted to see. The doctors kept telling me that they were working on it, consulting another hospital and working together to try and help me. At one point, I started to black out and honestly thought that was it. I did not think about money, or my job, or even competing, but that I was going to die right there and no amount of muscle, strength or anything else could change my fate.
I thought about my family, my friends, the fact I have never been married or had any kids. I saw my life pass by in my head all the way to the point of being buried — a true near death experience. I endured 5 days in the ICU, insulin injections, blood draws every two hours; I had to take a beta blocker, a PIC line was put in through my arm to my heart (which was the worst of it all), constant IV’s, a special diet was made for me, and I was given a lot of vitamins which were pills the size of matchbox cars.
The doctors attributed everything to re-feeding syndrome. After dieting so long my body treated me almost like I was an anorexic, so when I was eating all those carbs and sugar after the show, my body was trying to store fat and was spilling the rest of the nutrients I needed to survive. Combined with dehydrating myself for the show, my diet leading up to the show, flying (which also dehydrates you), breaking myself down to practically nothing for the show to keep my size down, and the Las Vegas weather which was above 105 degrees (Fahrenheit), all of that added up almost killed me.
To die due to an electrolyte imbalance is something I never even considered happening previously, but I am obviously far more aware now of the dangers of everything I did to myself. I was and am still very humbled by the situation and will be for the rest of my life.
I have given up so much time away from family and friends and basically secluded myself at times to come in at my “best”. Truthfully its not worth all that and Ive worked VERY hard to find and keep balance in my life.
What 3 tips would you give someone wishing to obtain a beyond ordinary physique like yours?
You need to first be okay 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 okay 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 okay 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.
WorkOwt! Magazine is focused on helping our readers excel ‘Beyond Ordinary’. What ‘s the #1 piece of advice you’d give to someone wishing to push beyond their ordinary thresholds?
If you want something , set clear concise and STRONG goals to get you there. Build a plan and go get it. PERIOD! The only one who can tell you ‘you can’t’ is you. Hard work can and will pay off if you keep putting in the time, just have faith in you and know above all you can accomplish any and all things you set your mind to doing.
What are you doing when you’re not working out?
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’s your favorite motivational quote?
“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
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