Full-body circuit workouts can be a quick way to get your daily dose of exercise without wasting too much time. And the results are often an effective mix of muscle-building and fat-loss too!
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Fitness pro, Brandan Fokken created his own version of a full-body circuit, and we’ll be checking to see if it’s worthwhile.
About the Creator – Brandan Fokken
The brawny Brandan Fokken is the brain behind this particular full-body circuit workout. He’s a professional athlete, IFBB pro, IFBB judge, and fitness model for the popular sports brand, Nike.
Some other brands he’s collaborated with include:
- Quest Nutrition
- Beast Sports Nutrition
He owns a training business called Fokken Strong Training (awesome name) where he focuses on training celebrities and elite athletes. And he’s worked with Bodybuilding.com as a team athlete to provide professional training services.
Brandan also owns a peanut butter company called Fokken Nuts Peanut Butter.
We gotta admit, his pun game is strong.
(Who remembers good ‘ol Vine?!)
Brandan Fokken’s Full Body Circuit-Workout Overview
Before we go into what Brandan has installed for us, let’s briefly describe what a full-body circuit workout is.
What happens when you mix total body resistance training and basically scrub all the rest times?
The answer: you get a full-body circuit workout.
A full-body workout is a combination of exercises that hit all your muscle groups in one session.
While circuit training strings together various exercises which are performed one after another with little to no periods of rest between them. Together they train your full body in a time-efficient manner.
Noob Note: Brandan Fokken did not invent the full-body circuit workout. Instead, he combined a couple of exercises and adapted his version.
According to Brandan, his full-body circuit workout aims to help you build muscle, burn fat and be the first to leave the gym (ie. get ripped).
He says this workout can be performed 2-3 times a week so it shouldn’t take over your schedule.
But for true gym rats who hit the gym 4-6 times a week, you can perform this workout once a week or bi-weekly.
Here’s a brief overview of Brandan Fokken’s full-body circuit workout:
- Fitness level: Beginner or intermediate
- Workout Type: Full-body circuit
- Workouts per week: 1-4 depending on how many times hit the gym a week
- Average workout duration: 30-60 minutes
- Equipment needed: Full gym
- Goal: Build muscle, lose weight, get fit
Let’s take a closer look at this workout.
Full Body Circuit-Training – Schedule & Details
All the exercises in Brandan Fokken’s full-body circuit are performed for 10 reps each. After you’ve completed the first circuit, take a break from 30 to 120 seconds, then repeat the circuit two more times (a total of 3 sets).
Below are the eleven exercises in this full-body circuit workout:
- Single-Arm Dumbbell Preacher Curl – 10 reps
- Rope Triceps Pull-Down – 10 reps
- Leg Press – 10 reps
- Calf Press – 10 reps
- Plate Front Raise – 10 reps
- Machine Chest Press – 10 reps
- Bent-Over Rear Delt Fly – 10 reps
- Seated Cable Row 10 reps
- Pull-Up – 10 reps
- Machine Crunch – 10 reps
- Squat To Arnold Press – 10 reps
Let’s analyze each exercise individually to see which muscles are being worked.
Single-Arm Dumbbell Preacher Curl
The dumbbell preacher curl is another variation of bicep curls that is performed on an angled bench called the preacher bench. Using a preacher bench provides more control and less swinging of the arms during the exercise.
Also, the negative movement (lengthening of muscles under load) of the preacher curls helps to add intensity and overload of biceps. Both arms can be used to perform preacher curls, but the single-arm variation isolates and trains the biceps individually.
Rope Triceps Pull-Down
The rope triceps push-down is an efficient tricep isolation exercise that works all three tricep heads:
- Long head
- Medial head
- Lateral head
The leg press is a type of machine-based weight training lower-body exercise for building muscle and strength mainly in your quadriceps, but your hamstrings, glutes, and calves get in on the action too.
The calf press is performed with the same leg-press machine as before, but this exercise focuses on the calves (mainly the gastrocnemius and soleus).
Building bigger calves can help to improve your overall lower body performance which is important in certain sports.
Plate Front Raise
The plate front raise works your anterior deltoids (front delts) and helps you increase mass, build strength, and stabilize the joints in your shoulders.
Machine Chest Press
The machine chest press is a machine-based upper-body strengthening exercise that helps you build muscle tissue and strength in your:
- Chest (pectorals)
- Shoulders (deltoids)
The machine chest press is also considered to be one of the best exercises if you want a muscular, ripped chest.
Bent-Over Rear Delt Fly
The bent-over rear delt fly is a weight training exercise that primarily works your harder-to-reach posterior delts, but also the lateral delts, triceps, trapezius, infraspinatus, and rhomboids.
Besides strengthening your rear delts, this exercise also helps to build more mass and stabilize the shoulder (like the plate front raise).
Seated Cable Row
The seated cable row is a machine-based upper-body strength training exercise that focuses on the back and upper-arm muscles.
The specific muscles worked by the seated cable row include:
- Lats (latissimus dorsi)
The pull-up is an upper body strength training exercise that primarily works the lats (Latissimus dorsi), but also targets your:
- Traps (Trapezius)
- Erector spinae
You can’t go wrong with pull-ups if you’re looking to build a bigger and stronger back (especially without a machine).
This machine-based exercise primarily targets the abdominal muscles, but also your obliques.
The machine crunch can allow for progressive overload in ab workouts and makes it hard to cheat this exercise.
Squat To Arnold Press
Finally, we have the “squat to Arnold press” which is a combination of squats with the Arnold press (a variant of the shoulder press).
During the squat portion, you’ll work your gluteus, quadriceps, hamstrings, calves, hip flexors, and adductor (groin).
And the Arnold press portion works all three deltoid muscles (anterior, lateral, and posterior deltoids) in your shoulder.
Although the Arnold press is mainly a shoulder exercise, your triceps and trapezius will feel the burn.
Together, squats and the Arnold Press hit a lot of muscles and make one hell of a combo.
Full Body Circuit-Training Diet
Even though Fokken doesn’t offer specific diet recommendations to support his circuit routing, he probably follows an ordinary bodybuilder stack like this:
- Consume 1 gram of protein per 1 pound of body weight
- Consume 20-30% of your total calories from fats
- Fill the rest of your calories with carbohydrates
What you eventually decide to eat while undergoing this training depends on the specific body type you’re going for.
- To maintain your current weight: Eat at maintenance calories
- To lose weight: Eat at a deficit (300-500 calories below maintenance)
- To gain weight: Eat at a surplus (300-500 calories above maintenance)
Try to get 80% of your calories from healthy sources and you’ll be ready to perform this full-body circuit workout.
Fokken’s Full Body Circuit Pros
The short period of this workout may be its biggest advantage. It’s suitable if you don’t have much time to spend exercising in the gym.
Plus faster training sessions may even encourage you to work out more.
Works for all muscle groups
Not only is this workout fast, but you also get to work your entire body. All eleven exercises combined target all your major muscles, leading to a more balanced physique over time.
Great for Beginners
Full-body workouts are great for beginners because most novices don’t have experience with very intense training.
However, beginners should ideally have practiced the exercises before to ensure they maintain a good form going from one movement to the next.
Fokken’s Full Body Circuit Cons
Requires a gym and access to a lot of equipment
Unless you have access to a leg press machine at home, then you’ll need to hit the gym to perform the leg press and calf press.
You’ll also need a cable machine and crunch machine which you probably don’t have lying around.
It may not be efficient for muscle building
The weights usually used for circuit workouts are relatively small to ensure you don’t fatigue before the next exercise.
So if you’re specifically into bodybuilding, then you’ll be better off with a program that uses heavier weights and encourages progressive overload.
Besides, full-body workouts tend to focus less on a particular muscle group which may not be ideal for people going for a certain aesthetic look (huge arms, big chest, etc.)
It may not be effective at building athletic endurance
The short timeframe of circuit workouts may not be ideal for athletes who need to train their endurance by exercising over a long period.
Fatigue accumulates easily
In this training, you’re required to move between exercises with little to no rest which makes you fatigue easily. And fatigue during workouts can increase your risk of injury.
Also, a high-intensity workout like this can be problematic if you may have heart problems.
Full-Body Circuit Workout Tips
Below are some tips to keep in mind when doing a full-body circuit workout:
- Remember that the goal is to complete all rounds of the routine. So pick adequate weights that challenge you but don’t lead you to failure or fatigue to ensure you still have the strength to train other body parts.
- Don’t let your lack of gym access and equipment discourage you from performing this routine. Most exercises you do with a machine probably have a machineless alternative.
- For example, you can do squats or use a resistance band if you don’t have a leg press machine. And calf raises can be done seated in an ordinary chair with some odd weight loaded on your thighs.
- Monitor your health and ensure you can perform training like this before you start. Also, don’t take the “no-rest” mentality too literally. If you feel tired, let your body recover before moving on to avoid burnout.
Brandan Fokken’s Full Body Circuit Conclusion
Full-body circuit workouts help you train all your major muscle groups rapidly
And Brandon’s exercise selection seems to be effective for the job. However, this workout will drag you to the gym since you probably won’t have the machines involved.
Also, the relatively small weights used for this workout may not be enough for people focused on bodybuilding. Meanwhile, shorter exercises won’t do you much good if you want to develop endurance.
Overall, it’s still a great workout routine that can help you stay fit and spend the least amount of time working out.