The US Open is heating up, and we were lucky enough to grab a couple minutes with the most successful tennis duo of all time: Bob and Mike Bryan. They served up the secrets to dominating with age, and talked about gluten-free diets, how exercise is critical to their game, and more.
Men’s Fitness: You were born three minutes apart and have been in sync ever since, but you both have different philosophies when it comes to exercise. How would you describe how each of you gets a workout in?
Being 37-years-old our workouts have evolved a lot since we first started out on tour. For the most part Mike, because he is slightly more injury-prone, has modified his workouts to focus primarily on core, flexibility, and shoulder strength. Mike tends to do a lot of yoga as it checks a lot of boxes for what he’s trying to achieve during his workouts. I, Bob, have been fortunate in that I have managed to, for the most part, stay injury-free throughout my career. My workouts are a little more general run of the mill, full body workouts coupled with intense core and cardio sessions mixed in.
MF: Anything else (in general) that you guys agree-to-disagree on?
Being identical twins there is not much we disagree on. We play the game slightly differently and play different musical instruments. Mike tends to be a little more methodical about things while I like to get creative and enjoy taking pictures, making GoPro training/ travel videos, and generally spending a lot of time off court trying to create things for us as a team and for my family back home.
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MF: How important has it been to have off-court workouts for your tennis careers?
We definitely aren’t spring chickens anymore. There is a lot that hurts after long matches now that didn’t before, and therefore off court workouts have become some of the most important time we spend every day. Our goal is to maximize our potential and the only way to do that is to compete as much as possible, and give ourselves as many chances for success as we can. The more work we do off court the smaller the chances of us getting injured – so our off court workouts are everything.
MF: How about diet? Are you both different in that aspect as well? Do you guys eat anything special before workouts, or before tennis matches?
We found out a few years ago that Mike has an allergic reaction to gluten. Following that discovery, he of course switched to a fully gluten-free diet. Having seen the health benefits and the positive effects it was having on Mike firsthand, I decided to switch to a mostly gluten-free diet too. This happened about 6 or 7 years ago, we like to think we started the trend.
MF: You’ve both been so dominating for YEARS! How have your careers as players changed from your teens, twenties, and thirties? Have you gotten better as you’ve gotten older? Are there more challenges? Have other things gotten easier or more intuitive?
Things have definitely changed and evolved, and it has become a lot more difficult to win on pure power and athleticism alone. Being in our late thirties now, we feel we have so much experience on tour, and most importantly have played together for so many decades that we have a distinct, sometimes intangible, advantage over many of the other doubles teams out there. Sure we know where to stand, what our opponents strengths and weaknesses are etc, but more than anything we understand one another’s games and we understand what’s worth spending energy on during a match, and what is not. We know that if we focus on doing the things that we do well as often as possible in a match, statistically, we are going to break the other pair down, and win more often than we lose.
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MF: Do you have any mental tricks or routines to prepare for a match?
We don’t have any particular mental tricks outside of just trying to show as much positive energy as possible during the match (even if we may not be feeling it.) Regarding our pre-match routine, we like to discuss the games plan with our coach, grip our racquets, put sunscreen on, take Aleve, and warm up.
MF: We get it, athletes are particular with their gear. What are the most important features of the gear you use? That includes anything and everything; sunblock, shoes, shirts, hats, sunglasses, and of course, your rackets.
The most important features of all our gear is functionality and performance. We have our bag’s full of exercise bands, Tournagrip, Vega endurance gels & energy bars, white tape, wristbands, hats, protein powder, electrolyte hydrator, and of course our Prince rackets and an extra pair of KSWISS shoes.