Phil Mickelson Is Losing 20 Pounds By Working Out At 5:30 AM And Cutting Carbs, Dairy, And Sugar

After a rough 12 months in which he fell from 4th to 11th in the world, Phil Mickelson is putting in a ton of work to have a comeback year in 2015.

The 44-year-old is holding 5:30 a.m. workouts four days a week in San Diego, his longtime trainer Sean Cochran told Business Insider. His goal is to get stronger and faster in order generate more club-head speed, and losing weight through diet and exercise is a part of his plan.

“Let’s be honest, he did not have his best year last year,” Cochran said when asked why Mickelson was working so hard this offseason. “I know what he’s capable of. I know he wants a successful year.”

Mickelson told Tim Rosaforte of Golf Digest that he’s currently halfway to his goal of losing 20 pounds this offseason.

“He looks more athletic,” Cochran told BI. “He’s working really hard and he’s really focused.”

So how exactly is Phil doing it?

One part is diet.

“He’s basically on a paleo diet,” Cochran said. Mickelson is eating a diet of vegetables, fruits, protein, and some nuts. He’s not eating dairy, he’s cutting carbs and all processed foods, and he’s only consuming all-natural sugars. It’s similar to the diet LeBron James used to lose a significant amount of weight over a 67-day span this summer.

A sample breakfast: eggs with broccoli, peppers, and some yam.

The second part of Phil’s offseason plan — the part Cochran specialises in — is exercise.

Cochran has been training professional golfers since 2003. Before that he worked primarily in Major League Baseball. The training plan he developed for Mickelson is focused on core strength, which is where power is generated for a golfer.

“Golf is a total body, feet-to-fingertips activity,” Cochran told BI, and he puts Mickelson through a workout that trains all the muscles from the knees to the chest.

Mickelson works with Cochran four days a week for around 75 minutes. By design, the “high-density” workout is intense and short.

Cochran outlined his typical workout, which has six steps:

  1. Myofascial release exercises (basically, self-massage with those rollers)
  2. Static stretching
  3. Dynamic warm-up (“feet to fingertip” warm-up exercises that get the body ready to work out: things like forward lunges, back lunges, etc.)
  4. Power training (plyometrics, medicine-ball side throws, squat jumps)
  5. Core training (physio-ball saw, exercise-ball leg curl, anti-rotation core exercises)
  6. Total body strength training (pairing a lower-body strength exercise with an upper-body strength exercise, like dumbbell squats and horizontal rows)

Words like “myofascial release,” “plyometrics,” and “squat jumps” are not things the typically golf fan would associate with Phil Mickelson. But ever since Tiger Woods redefined the level of athleticism needed to be an elite golfer more than a decade ago, workouts like these have become an essential part of the sport.

Here’s the most recent photo of the slimmed-down Phil (via his brother Tim Mickelson):

Mickelson didn’t play well in 2014. He missed the cut at the Masters. He didn’t win at all on the PGA Tour and only finished in the top-10 once — his lowest number of top-10s since 1992, when he only played six tournaments. His season ended with him getting benched at the Ryder Cup, which led to a public spat with captain Tom Watson.

With only a 12-week offseason, he’s doing everything he can off the course to redeem himself in 2015.

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