Family has always been everything to multiple cover star Brandan Fokken. To succeed in this area means not only excelling physically but mastering the art of being a world-class businessman, husband and father. Here’s a page from his playbook for creating success in every area of your life
Fatherhood is quite possibly the most important job in the world yet is not something you can ever get qualified enough to perform perfectly, so you just have to learn as you go. And while it takes minimal skill to have a child, it takes talent and courage to be a true father. While it may not always come naturally, it is something you often have to figure out on your own.
“When my son was born, my life went into a dive,” explains Fokken. “That’s just being honest. I was so regimented that many things immediately fell apart because I had this new variable to work with. It took time, planning, patience and understanding to create balance. When I didn’t know what to do, I had to slowly develop habits and coping mechanisms to make things work. I had to find time and leave many regimented habits behind to put my son first. I learned this can apply to having children, a demanding job or spouse with an opposite schedule, but in the end it’s all worth it. Every bit of work you put in for your family pays dividends. The healthier and happier you are spills over into everything else. It creates longevity, gives you energy to be present and sets a great example.”
Too often, children will learn in the odd moments when you aren’t actually being a teacher and are just setting an example of how you react to the world. How you were raised can often have a significant impact on your ability to do this.
“I had a troubling childhood that I had to overcome first and foremost,” says Fokken. “Beyond that, I’ve had so many setbacks to overcome. The most recent was tearing both my hamstrings at combine for the NBC television series The Titan Games. I was one of 30 guys chosen for the combine. After tearing my hamstrings, I did four more events with them wrapped. It hurt like hell, but I didn’t quit. Unfortunately, I ended up with rhabdo [rhabdomyolysis] and was hospitalized for it. Then we went into Covid lockdown, so I couldn’t get any therapy. It’s taken me eight months, I have been smart, worked hard and here I am looking at the Olympics. I’ve taken my life back and I’m hoping for a Titan Games Season 3 to redeem myself.”
There’s no question that the family unit creates lasting health and longevity for everyone. And this means relationships, household habits and nutrition play a key role.
“You have to do it for yourself first and foremost,” suggest Fokken when asked how to inspire other men. “You can’t do it for anyone else and keep it going at the level you need to for overall success and longevity. I’ve been lucky in that I’m in a situation where everyone in my house eats well, balanced and is conscious about what they consume. Many people eat what’s in front of them, aren’t educated in nutrition or if they are, they aren’t always good at keeping to what they know. It’s easy to do what’s easy and quick, but you and your family are both worth the investment and time to make good decisions day after day.”
Whether you have a family or not, you should always aim to keep your exercise consistent, yet varied so you always have a new goal to aim toward.
“Over the years I have tried about everything from athletic training, bodybuilding for aesthetics, functional, strong man and powerlifting to some degree,” explains Fokken. “When I was younger, I always lifted heavy because I wanted to be big and strong. However, I needed to create a physique that belonged on stage. With that, I did high volume, moderate to rarely heavy weight with tons of sets and reps and hit every body part from every angle I could. That for me is how I build a physique worthy of going pro in the IFBB. Currently, I am doing a lot of varied functional training as well as some sport-specific activities. I am currently working with the USA Bobsled team (www.teamusa.org/USA-Bobsled-Skeleton-Federation) to have a tryout early next year and then a second one thereafter if I perform effectively for the US Olympic Team. This is crazy at my age, but I want to show people that you can in fact do these things – you can go after your dreams and opportunities are out there if you want to work for them.”
Busy Man’s Plan
Brandan’s training strategy for being fit, healthy and strong enough for anything
Leg extensions 6 x 10
Lying leg curls 6 x 10
Squats 8 x 10
Adduction 5 x 12
Lunges 4 x 20
Glute machine kick back 5 x 10
Calf machine 4 x 15
Machine chest press warm-up 5 x 10
Incline press 6 x 10-15
Flat bench press 5 x 10
Cable flys 5 x 10
Hammer press incline 5 x 10-15
Machine flys 4 x 12
Push-ups close grip against a bench 4 x 15
Dumbbell side raise 6 x 10
Hammer shoulder press 6 x 10-15
Cable rope front raises 5 x 10
Cable cross reverse flys 6 x 10
Angled side raise 5 x 10
Behind the neck standing straight bar press 5 x 10
Lat pull-down 6 x 10-15
Rope pull-throughs 5 x 10
Deadlifts 5 x 10
Seated cable close grip rows 6 x 10
Dumbbell shrugs 5 x 10-15
Dumbbell single arm rows 4 x 10
Wide grip pull-ups 5 x 10
Dumbbell curls 5 x 10
Cable rope pushdowns 5 x 10-15
Machine curls 5 x 10
Machine dips 5 x 10
Hammer curls or reverse curls 5 x 10
Single are reverse cable pushdown 4 x 10-15
Possibly a few burn out dumbbell curls 1-3 x 10-25
Saturday: legs and cardio based
Stair running 10 mins
Leg press 5 x10-15
Hip thrusts 4 x 10
Sled push 10 rounds
Sled drags/ pulls 5-8 rounds
Battle ropes various combos 10 x 30 seconds
Abs / machine and hanging leg raises 100 reps each
Sunday: Active rest
It’s easy to come roaring out the blocks, but it takes commitment to devote your efforts to creating a counterbalance by focusing on recovery. This will not only improve your mood but make you better at everything you do.
“First and foremost, you should master your sleep and then nutrition,” he says. “I am big when it comes to therapies. The best for me have been Graston work and chiropractor treatment with muscle work as the focus. I’ve also done relaxation therapies such as infrared sauna, cryo, spot cryo and IV therapies. I believe that if you put the time into your body then you’ll keep ahead of injuries and become a better athlete. It’s also vital to make time for yourself. If you aren’t good to yourself, you eventually will fade and can’t be good for anyone else either. You need to prioritize the things that will bring peace and relaxation into your life. Make a routine for them. Know you are worth the time and investment to work on you. Set up a strategy for yourself. Walks, meditation, massage, exercise, or reading. Find what works for you to keep your angst at bay so you can continue to be your best.”
Family meals are always key to lasting bonds, but it’s also important to differentiate your nutritional goals from those of everyone else’s.
“Nutrition really depends on what I am training for. I used to eat 7-8 times per day spaced through the day. In my off-season I would do intermittent fasting to control the calories I was taking in. In my normal life I usually don’t eat until about 5pm. After that I’m pretty routine and eat an ICON meal. I’m a big Buffalo and veggies and sweet potatoes fan. Then, and this is no lie, I average about a jar of peanut butter a day after that meal. Owning your own peanut butter company has its advantages (Fokken Nuts). I’ll finish the day off with some eggs and toast with veggies or something similar and usually have some fruit. That type of plan isn’t efficient necessarily in going after various goals, but I’m able to maintain muscle, keep body fat lower, feel good and eat the foods I want to and enjoy them.”
Healthy Baked Fokken Peanut Butter Donuts!
Makes five regular-sized donuts or six minis
Nutrition for 1 donut out of 6
Calories: 130, 19g carbs, 4g Fat, 5g Protein
What to do
1 cup flour
½ cup sweetener, stevia or zero calorie sweetener,
4 tbsps Fokken peanut butter
1 egg white
½ cup almond milk
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp cinnamon
½ tsp nutmeg
1 tsp baking powder
What to do
Step 1: Preheat oven to 325 degrees then combine dry ingredients in a bowl.
Step 2: Soften Fokken Peanut Butter in the microwave and mix with all wet ingredients in another bowl
Step 3: Fold wet and dry mixtures together then pour into greased donut pan.
Step 4: Bake in the oven for 16 minutes and allow to cool on a cooling rack before topping!
Step 1: Mix equal parts cinnamon and a sweetener replacement like stevia in a bowl
Step 2: Melt 20g coconut oil in another bowl
Step 3: Brush donuts with the melted coconut oil and toss in the cinnamon sweetener mixture.
Nutrition: adds roughly 30 calories and 3g fat to each donut.
Peanut Butter Frosted and Dark Chocolate Iced
Step 1: Combine 30g confectioners’ sugar or confectioners’ sugar replacement with 15g peanut butter powder with only enough water to create a thick frosting
Step 2: Melt 20g dark chocolate chips with 3g coconut oil in a small saucepan. Once melted, allow to cool slightly and place in a Ziploc bag with a corner cut or piping bag for easy drizzling.
Step 3: Frost donuts with the butter and drizzle your chocolate mixture from the bag over the donuts. Allow the chocolate to harden by placing donuts in the refrigerator.
Nutrition: Using a zero-calorie confectioners’ sugar replacement this adds roughly 50 calories and 4g carbs, 2g fat, 2g protein to each donut.
Culture Of Improvement
Progression is the heart of happiness, making it something worth instilling into your family’s everyday ethos.
“I think our household is held to a high standard because everyone in it is high-functioning and is consistently working towards their goals while creating new ones as they achieve them,” says Fokken. “So, no matter where you look, there is a good example to see and follow and motivation and an inspiring individual you share space with. It’s not hard after that. If you have created balance with routines that cater to health and wellbeing in your family, then you don’t want to keep pushing past your comfort zones. From there you can add things over time and as you begin to master them then they become routine so you can then add more. As I stated though, be sure you aren’t always pushing as you’ll find if you aren’t happy where you are at, you won’t be happy where you are going. Its okay to be good. It’s also okay to be great. We don’t always need >more and that unfortunately is what our society in many ways teaches us.”