Mikko Salo's Training

August 11, 2009 12:43 PM

Posted in Competitors »
45 Comments » on this entry

Games09MikkoChuckTommyChipper.jpgWe asked Mikko Salo about his training. Here is his response:

Hello! I have done functional training with high intensity my entire life (which is like15 years now). Nowadays, I train 4 to 6 days in a row, and then I take a rest day.

My basic training day starts with running or rowing 30-45 min with high intensity (interval training) in the mornings. In the evenings, I do some kind of strength training (different squats, cleans, snatches, deadlifts, all major lifts), with sets of 5x3, 5x5, or 5x10.

After the strength training, I usually do two different metcon workouts with 5-10 minute rest in between. For these, I use broad time domains from 1 minute to 30 minutes. I also try to use big weights and my body mass in the metcons. I always hammer the metcons with full intensity.

I believe that my ability to train so much and with so hard intensity is because I have created a careful foundation of physical capacity starting at very young age. When I started doing CrossFit, I followed the main site workouts strictly. But nowadays I want more volume than the main site provides. So I do a bit more for training days.

There has been some kind of talk about me gaining muscle mass after the European Qualifers, but that is not true. I have had same body mass now for a few years (80kg). Also, I don't have access all the equipment that is needed for all the main site workouts, so occasionally I have to modify some of the movements.

Sevan Matossian interviewed Mikko about this also ... [wmv] [mov]

45 comments on this entry.

1. Billy@sincitycrossfit wrote...

August 11, 2009 1:36 PM

Damn! That's why he crushed 8 wods in 2 days. He's used to doing 3 a day for 6 days straight. That is crazy.

2. Alun Owen wrote...

August 11, 2009 2:11 PM

Mikko comes across as such a humble, self effacing, honest individual appearing genuinely appreciative of being given the opportunity to test his physical prowess alongside the best that the crossfit community has to offer. He is an inspiration and a standard barer for everything the community stands for. His story should give encouragement and inspiration to all crossfitters, whether they be aspiring future champions or purely individuals seeking to optimize their performance and develop their individual potential. The guy is a class act as well as being a freakishly impressive performer.

3. Adam Rogers wrote...

August 11, 2009 2:22 PM

Amazing athlete, and from the looks of it an amazingly humble and thankful individual.

Would love to see a long video of his chipper workout, similar to the one of Crystal and Christy. We've heard so much about his 'cyborg-ness', that ability to get in the zone and keep cranking out reps, would be awesome to see it in action for those of us who weren't fortunate enough to see it live.

Congratulations Mikko, you definitely earned your title.

4. Jake B wrote...

August 11, 2009 2:55 PM

That looks very similar to the schedule that Crossfit Endurance recommends. Running in the morning and wod's in the afternoon.

5. DOZER wrote...

August 11, 2009 3:03 PM

This article supports a theory in training I have long suspected was being utilized by top atheletes in Crossfit. I don't have the data to support my theory because

A) I don't know the top guys personally.

B) I don't know that they would be honest.

I'm not implying that they are liars, but that they may not want to reveal all their secrets to success.

I certainly don't claim to be a top level Crossfitter, but I did play College Football at a Division 1 Level and have trained hard my whole life. I LOVE Crossfit, but the main site WODs alone weren't filling my needs. I joined a great Crossfit Gym(Front Range Crossfit) that has excellent programming. We do a lot of Olympic Lifting on top of the WODs on any given day. In addition to all of this I do heavy lifting on my own along with a WOD 4-6 days a week.

It was interesting to read Mikko's training schedule because it is very similar to mine except for the fact that I separate my WODs each day by several hours. Just like Mikko I have always attributed my ability to do this from close to two decades of twice a day working out at high intensity.

I've wondered how many top guys might have a schedule similar to Mikko's? Especially those atheletes that own their own Crossfit Gyms. If I'm a Speal or a Khalipa and I run a gym for a living what is to keep me from doing multiple WODs and lifting each day.

Additionally, (I'm not picking a fight here either)I was at the Crossfit Games and saw a lot of guys competing that were built like guys that supplement their crossfit with old fashioned weight lifting. There is definately a muscle developement you achieve through Crossfit, but I can tell when someone is also moving weight around in a traditional manner.

I could be wrong....

I just wouldn't be shocked to discover that Mikko isn't the only one training this way.

6. Kris Kepler wrote...

August 11, 2009 4:55 PM

could we possibly see a back to back champion? what a special person.

7. Jeremy wrote...

August 11, 2009 5:10 PM

Mikko that is quite impressive i am very curious what you do for recovery ohter than diet alone????

8. nick williams wrote...

August 11, 2009 5:13 PM

HI Dozer,

your thoughts (and sporting background) resemble mine although in a different part of the world. Sadly, I'm too old to even attempt to firebreathe and don't have the time to train twice a day now even if my body would hold up, but I would absolutely believe that the top guys do more stuff on top to supplement the main site WODs.

Josh Everett is one guy who has exposed his training regime a few times and he focuses way more on lifting and sprints with WODs almost as extras

9. Richard Vanmeerbeek wrote...

August 11, 2009 6:01 PM

Pasta, hell yeah ! haha

August 11, 2009 6:09 PM

Jeremy if anyone could win the CrossFit Games it would be Mikko!, Like I said in all my post Mikko is a Cyborg and unless they build a new model, I got my money on Mikko if not winning the games, placing top 3 once again.

Jeremy as far as Rest, I spoke to Mikko at the European Quals, and he told us his training i was in Shock. he sticks to 4-6 and then rest (you can do that when you've been training like that for 15 yrs), all he really does is listen to his body. Mikko is such a humble guy, im sure youll see the champ around the CrossFit Commmunity for some time.

11. Jared replied to comment from DOZER...

August 11, 2009 6:38 PM

supplemented with old fashioned weighlifting?

squats, cleans, snatches, deadlifts ARE CrossFit

12. Karl Eagleman wrote...

August 11, 2009 8:21 PM

This guy is awesome.

13. DOZER replied to comment from Jared...

August 11, 2009 8:42 PM

I'm aware that O-Lifting is a part of Crossfit. I'm talking about lifting such as T-Bar Rows, Incline/Decline Bench, Butterflys, and even God forbid curls. I'm not saying everyone does this type of lifting, but I'm certain there was quite a few atheletes that were.

As far as Mikko goes I wouldn't know.....

He may just lift heavy using O-Lift movements.

14. Russ Greene wrote...

August 11, 2009 8:54 PM

Dozer, Why would such exercises be necessary for upper body development when full ROM handstand pushups, strict muscleups, front levers, strict presses, etc. are all a part of being a complete Crossfitter?

15. JonathanT wrote...

August 11, 2009 9:16 PM

Dozer, I HIGHLY doubt that any of the competitors used any of the movements you mentioned in their preparation for the games. Some might have in the past, before they found Crossfit, but you definitely don't reach the upper echelon of fitness by doing curls.

16. Ryan Brown wrote...

August 11, 2009 9:26 PM

Wait, so he goes 4-6 on/1 off? Rinse and repeat? With each of those 4-6 on being comprised of a high intensity monostructural workout in the morning, heavy lifting in the evening, followed by 2 balls-out metcons with a 5-10 minute break between them?

Volume much?

I hate being a naysayer but I feel like there must be some miscommunication. I could believe that he goes 4-6 days out of the week. Or maybe 4-6 on/1 off, with some "on" days being slightly lighter "recovery" days. But I just don't see how any human being could tolerate the training volume that he's describing. If that's really what he does, he is an absolutely superhuman athlete and I'm at a complete loss for words.

17. Linus Hector wrote...

August 11, 2009 10:57 PM

Give him all the gear he needs to do all the wods as Rx'ed

18. Jamie@CFA replied to comment from Jared...

August 12, 2009 1:15 AM

as an affiliate owner myself I can tell you that between teaching elements, group classes, cleaning, taking care of events, bootcamps, webpages, etc there is sometimes not even enough time to get the WOD. We are pretty well staffed and it is still pretty difficult... It's not always the tea party people think it is but it is the best job in the world .. @ least for me

19. Jamie@CFA wrote...

August 12, 2009 1:16 AM

sorry Jared I clicked the wrong thread

20. Leon R replied to comment from Ryan Brown...

August 12, 2009 3:59 AM

You should have nothing more to say then fella, I've hard from a couple of sources close to Mikko that this was his training template before the release of this info. One of his morning sessions consisted of 5 x 1k runs through his local forest, each of them sub 3 minutes... followed by heavy thrusters 5x5@ 90 and then a couple of metcons. Mikko's middle name should be capacity! Mikko Capacity Salo aka The Cyborg :-)

21. Richard Vanmeerbeek wrote...

August 12, 2009 5:19 AM

Damn right Leon, capacity !

When you know Mikko, you just realize that it's his lifestyle, it's what he's been doing forever.

August 12, 2009 5:32 AM

As a person who closely looks at Mikko's post, i saw the day where he did his 1Km sprints through the forrest I was like WTF, and then his times, a complete blow mind !!!! when i grow up i want to be just like Mikko ! or Speal or Josh, or oven Brian Bowen from CrossFit Ramstein !

23. Vic, CrossFit Osan wrote...

August 12, 2009 5:39 AM

a little new flash,
Mikko Salo, just competed at Vancouver, Worlds Police and fire games...tomorrow TCA..toughest competitor alive!! and one the Fireman's Indoor rowing competition,
the Cyborg does it again !

August 12, 2009 8:21 AM

"As a person who closely looks at Mikko's post"...

Just wondering where the post is located...would be interesting to see his workout's / times...Thanks.

25. josh everett wrote...

August 12, 2009 9:16 AM

Great stuff Mikko, thank you so much for sharing. Your a great champion & representative of crossfit. For those doubters out there about mikko's training his volume is indeed possible... it sounds very familiar to what I did during my late teens & twenties. The early part of those years i often went months without a day off. Oh how i miss those days... I love training and wish I could still do it all all the time.

26. DOZER replied to comment from Jamie@CFA...

August 12, 2009 10:00 AM

I'm sure you're correct....

I know our trainers/owners have said the same thing. They have to really hustle to keep it going for all of us, and it doesn't leave a ton of time to take care of their own workouts.

I just wondered if some of the more competitive Crossfitters might have some assistance to get in a few more WODs.

27. DOZER replied to comment from JonathanT...

August 12, 2009 10:21 AM

That's not what I said....

I'm saying in addition to doing all the Crossfit movements, 2xWODs, and heavy O-Lift sessions, that I suspected there was some weight lifting in the sense that I described.

BTW...I don't personally do curls, but this lift gets a bad rap. Some atheletes do curls as a functional lift (amongst a bunch of other lifts). I know Strongmen use the curl to help them perform in a number of events (Atlas Stones).

Curls alone isnt going to get it done, but as one piece of a number of moves it doesn't need such a bad rap.

28. NG replied to comment from DOZER...

August 12, 2009 10:54 AM

I agree that curls, when combined with other movements, are beneficial. Curls get a bad rap because science shows that isolation movements generally improve aesthetic value, not functional value. Thus, in the Crossfit world, non-functional movements are not part of what is taught or trained.

However, if somebody feels the need to pump a little iron to get the beach muscles looking good, who are we to judge? I have not done conventional weighlifting in over a year now, and my arms are about 2 inches smaller. BUT, I bench more, do more pull-ups, and more fit overall. I was willing to sacrifice guns for performance and overall well-being; while I assume most Crossfitters are in this category, some may stil want to pump the iron. Hell, its summer time. Curls for the girls!

But, in the end, everybody knows that those competitors who allegedly "cheat" on their diabolical mistress (Crossfit) by doing curls and tricep extensions likely had big arms to begin with, and are genetically predisposed to putting on muscle.

29. Bob Guere replied to comment from DOZER...

August 12, 2009 11:00 AM

DOZER, what can a curl do that you won't get (and more) from Muscle-ups and Pull-ups? Oh, wait, isolation. Certainly not functional at all. It think that's where CrossFitters (and supporters of true functional GPP) get off the curl-train.

It has a bad rap for what it is, a non-functional isolation movement. I'm not going to knock strongmen for using it if that's what's working for them and it helps them with atlas stone carries. But not for CF.

30. Dr D wrote...

August 12, 2009 2:23 PM

Oh, that explains a lot. Excuse me while I pick my jaw up.

Volume, volume and more volume.

The "secret" here appears to be infinite rounds of hard work for time, implemented repeatedly. Mikko has already been to the place in training so many strive to reach in competition. He has been there so often, they leave the light on for him and know him by name. Most others stop by for a brief visit then wander off into obscurity never to be seen again. I believe that is why they call him "The Fittest Man". Bringing oneself to that breaking point day in day out year after year, amazing.

And humble to a fault. "I followed the main site workouts strictly. But nowadays I want more volume than the main site provides. So I do a bit more for training days."

A "bit" more. Dude, a bit more is another bite of cake. You ate the whole cake and had them bring you five more. LOL

Some might fault his training saying it isn't CF, or this or that. I'm sure more jibes will come from naysayers, purists and wanna be's. But what beauty in programming. Constantly varied across broad time and modal domains with some strength and endurance bias thrown in for good measure. Who can fault a guy who reached above and beyond the WOD. Sure coach could post a WOD+, but only Mikko would be posting results. Mikko lives, works and plays in the Crossfit world (and everyone else who qualified for the games). Most of us step in and step out dripping in sweat, towel off, say thanks and go back to our lives.

Let's say what many are thinking. Man this European just handed us our proverbial Crossfit @ss. No video's on the site, no journal articles, not even a peep on youtube and BAM out of nowhere he smokes everyone. He heads back home trophy in hand and the rest are left stammering about looking for excuses and trying to find chinks in his armor while patching the holes in their own. Isn't this what Crossfit is all about? Anyone can use it to excel to the next level and beyond. Go to crossfit.com and take a sip, you'll want more.

Mikko doesn't have one secret, he has 4-6 days of secrets and they all involve copious amounts of "functional" strife and struggle. Can't wait to hear more from and about Mikko, the humble Finnish fireman and Rescue diver "Worlds Fittest Man".

31. JonathanT replied to comment from DOZER...

August 12, 2009 2:27 PM

I see what you're saying, but I still highly doubt it occurs. The athletes at the Crossfit games look the way they do because of how hard they chase performace. If curls and the like are beneficial to athletes in other sports, then so be it, but I don't see why someone interested in competing at the highest level of Crossfit would spend time with those movements. If they have the time to do more work on top of multiple wods, heavy lifting etc, then they would be much better off, as others have said, doing more movements associated with Crossfit, or better yet, resting! Obviously, you can do whatever you want when it comes to training, but the extra energy that would be spent working on isolation movemnts is simply not worth it for someone who wants to be competitive in the sport of Crossfit.

32. Kizzee wrote...

August 12, 2009 2:46 PM

Wow... Thats some amazing work right there. My question is... How does he know how to program his workouts? The way it looks to me is that his schedule is CF Endurance, Crossfit Football (the srength WOD before a cf wod), and then CF x 2. How does he know what to lift in his Str WOD and what to do in the 2 CF style workouts? Amazing stuff Mikko!

August 12, 2009 2:53 PM

Do you have any links? I can't seem to find any info via google..

34. noah wrote...

August 12, 2009 3:25 PM

how old is Mikko?

I am with Kizzee,
How does he program this and decide what to do when in terms of adding volume.

I get the rowing.
I get the main site WOD, but what strength and what second metcon?

August 12, 2009 3:25 PM

Josh, You're a bonifide CF beast! You're deads at the games were insane, it looked like you were about to clean the 505.

36. Shane Rugby wrote...

August 12, 2009 3:59 PM

Awesome guy. Inspirational insight into training. Think I'm going to pack an i-pod and go for a HIIT run tomorrow morning. Rock on, Mikko. You've inspired people all over the planet.

Josh - I know what you mean about the work capacity falling off a little as we age. I look back in awe at the training I did in my early 20s. It wasn't that smart....but by Jeebus, there was a lot of it. Supplemented with lots of walking and cycling I didn't even count! But heh, we're smarter now and could buy and sell these kids if we had to! ;)

37. Joe Mercurio wrote...

August 12, 2009 5:42 PM

When I first read Mikko's workout program, I think wow, that's a LOT of volume for a person claiming to follow the main site. After all, the main page just calls for 1 workout a day for 3 days then 1 off. It got me thinking along with some other posts here, that is this the next evolution of CF? Once you can handle the 3/1 schedule do you need to increase your volume to increase your fitness levels?

But then I remembered, in defense of Coach and the mainpage, that maybe Mikko follows the Coach's message a lot more than the rest of us do. After all he says learn and play new sports regularly. Mikko's morning run or row can be seen fitness wise as the same as an intense soccer match or rowing competition. Coach also says to warm-up and do skill work before a WOD. If you look at it loosely enough there's no reason you can't pile on the weight for skill work. Finally and to all the credit to Mikko (2 workouts with only a 5-10 minute break in between is amazing), this has been done before. OPT did 2 workouts a day leading up to his #1 placement at the 2007 games.

Maybe i'm defending the mainpage a little bit too much, but it got me thinking as I mostly ONLY do the main site wod's that perhaps I should start adding volume as well.

38. Yeay Mikko wrote...

August 12, 2009 7:35 PM

Well done Mikko.
Obviously you know whats up since you WON. The silent BEAST. HAHA. Love it.
Congrats and I am sure we will all see you next year, slaying it again.
Keep doing what your doing, while the rest of us argue and waste time trying to figure it out.

39. James wrote...

August 12, 2009 8:13 PM

I'm not surprised with the volume training. The way i see it is that if I have energy I'll keep going. Practice something I'm not good at or learn something new. Sometimes, it can also be good the train while fatigued. I do this sometimes for rock climbing to teach my body how to climb when I'm not fresh. That way when I am in a situation where I have to finish a long climb outdoors and already tired, my body will know how to be more efficient and just keep going.

40. Chris wrote...

August 13, 2009 5:58 AM

Great job Miko!!! That is a massive amount of training! One thing that hasnt been addressed so far is nutrition. How many calories would you estimate he's consuming daily? What do you guys think?

41. Torg wrote...

August 13, 2009 7:58 AM

Incredible...I think we witnessed the future of the Crossfit games in Mikko. The Crossfit games will continue to unveil more athletes like Mikko. And as a result there will be little doubt in any athletes mind that the title "worlds fittest man" is deserving.

What scares me most about Mikko is that I doubt he changed his training to prep for the games and he didn't take more than two days off after the event.

42. cam birtwell replied to comment from Dr D...

August 13, 2009 12:44 PM

...one of the best posts i've ever seen...

43. Mike Paul wrote...

August 14, 2009 3:17 PM

This type of training for the Crossfit Games doesn't surprise me. Crossfit is GPP. The Crossfit Games is a sport. You have to train specifically to get good at a sport. The Crossfit Games is a multi-event per day, multi-day competition. One workout per day is never going to cut it if you want to win it.

What is surprising is that this is what Mikko has been doing for 15 years - phenomenal!

44. Tony Black wrote...

August 16, 2009 6:57 AM

Wow thats a staggering amount of work! Mikko has some freakish recovery mechanisms - AND he still eats pasta ;0)

Id love to hear more about what he eats - the volume and quantity. The fuel for the cyborg!

Also what his daily "work" is like - how strenuous? How many hours a day? And what his sleep discipline is like.

Really sounds like the CF games were just merely a slightly upscaled daily workout for the man O.o

What a inspirational athlete.

45. matt wrote...

August 21, 2009 7:26 PM

His programming sounds exactly like World Class Fitness in 100 Words. No where does it say only the main page WOD is all that is required.

It was a pleasure to watch him and I look forward to seeing him compete next year.