Mardy Fish's personal trainer on how Fish recovered from a knee injury and transformed his career.
While there are a lot of fascinating tennis players at the U.S. Open to watch this year, we have our eyes on Mardy Fish. And it's not just because Fish entered the U.S. Open as the No. 1 U.S. seed — it's because in less than six months Fish has transformed his body and career.
After overcoming a devastating knee injury, dropping 30 pounds and reducing his body fat from 21 percent to 7 percent, it's likely that Fish has never been more poised to do well at the U.S. Open. But getting there has been an intensive process, says Fish's personal physiotherapist Christian LoCascio.
"I moved out to L.A. and lived with Mardy for three months, " LoCascio says. "That gave us the ability to do treatment and rehab around the clock. Cryotherapy, electrical stimulation, ultrasound, laser, deep-tissue work, and fascial scraping were done every day. We progressed to doing a lot of exercises in the UCLA water polo team's pool once Mardy was capable."
But the key part to his injury recovery? Weight-loss, LoCascio says.
"We knew that the more weight that he was able to shed, the faster he would be able to get back on the court and the more likely he was to remain there," he says. "Tennis is hard enough on the knees without giving them any extra burden."
Using a program called NutriTiming and working with a personal chef, LoCascio tracked every single macro and micronutrient that Fish ate. LoCascio cut calories and carbs from Fish's diet. For the two months after Fish's knee surgery when he wasn't able to work out, LoCascio had Fish only eat carbs from vegetables. Once Fish could get back on the tennis court, LoCascio introduced carbs back into his diet, although Fish didn't eat any carbs after 6 p.m.
LoCascio had Fish eat a product called Generation UCAN. Generation UCAN contains the ingredient SuperStarch, which is an engineered carbohydrate that encourages your body to burn fat, because it doesn't cause much of an insulin spike as compared to other carbs.
"It was tough at first, but once the weight started to come off, it became a game for Mardy," LoCascio says. "As a highly competitive person, Mardy enjoyed being in control of his body composition and seeing how much fat he could shed."
In preparation for the U.S. Open, Fish's workouts have also been fine-tuned for performance. Fish spends hours on the court each day and lifts in the gym when he's in between tournaments, LoCascio says. During tournaments, the pair focuses on core exercises, along with elastic band work for Fish's shoulders and manual resistance exercises for his knees.
What can regular gals and guys learn from Fish's transformation? Eat well, LoCascio says.
"It's the easiest thing to control, but it's often the first thing that's either overlooked or ignored," he says. "Eat clean foods that are lower in fat and simple sugars, and taper your complex carbohydrate intake from high in the morning to low at night."
All of this work in the gym, the kitchen and on the court, has given Fish and LoCascio great confidence that this will be Fish's best U.S. Open ever. LoCascio predicts that by the end of the U.S. Open, Fish will cement himself in the top 10 and all but guarantee himself a spot in the ATP World Tour Finals.
We certainly hope so! We're rooting for you, Fish!
Jennipher Walters is the CEO and co-founder of the healthy living websites FitBottomedGirls.com and FitBottomedMamas.com. A certified personal trainer, lifestyle and weight management coach and group exercise instructor, she also holds an MA in health journalism and regularly writes about all things fitness and wellness for various online publications.