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Mikko Salo: Death by Clean and Jerk by Mikko Salo - CrossFit Journal

In Athletes, CrossFit Games, Videos

June 25, 2010

Video Article

Can’t get enough videos of 2009 CrossFit Games champion Mikko Salo? Neither can we.

Sevan Matossian and a host of fans were lucky enough to catch Salo working out at the Eleiko Center in Sweden during the Europe Regional, and all were treated to an impressive athletic performance. After working on some heavy power clean and jerks, Salo finished off the day with 14-minute clean-and-jerk progression: one lift for the first minute, two for the second, and so on.

The workout should shed a bit more light on the champ’s training protocol: Salo combines a heavy day plus a met-con with the same movement. His performance in this workout was enough to draw applause from the onlookers, and a tired but composed Salo described completing the WOD with the same phrase he used when he found out he had won the CrossFit Games: “I’m happy now.”

Will Salo’s intense training be enough to make him the first repeat champion of the CrossFIt Games? Only time will tell.

8min 38sec

Additional reading: The Hard Routine by Jason Dougherty, published May 1, 2008.

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49 Comments on “Mikko Salo: Death by Clean and Jerk”


wrote …

I am in awe of Mikko. One of the last videos he was in he stated that he really had not put on any weight but cut his body fat percentage. Take a look at the 09 games videos and see for yourself if it doesn't look like he put on ten or more lbs of muscle. So where did the ten lbs of fat that he replaced come from. That man is a machine and he seems like he is an amazing human being.


wrote …


I hope Speal is right and that he is beatable. Not because I want him to lose, but because it will take something special to knock off the champ and I'm giddy to watch it all go down.


wrote …

Wow...That is the truth matt it will be something to wacth. The champ is ready! WOW...


wrote …

Still a beast and you can tell by the reports of some of the WODs on the mainsite, those long metcons he is a machine.


wrote …

He may be fit, but I would like to see someone correcting his poor technique


wrote …

He is 175 lb all muscle animal.The only sure fire way to see the diffrence is to take a before after picture and I have never seen a picture of him without his shirt.I feel taking off your shirts during the workouts isn't beneficial even when I competed in Juijitsu I wore long under armour shirts to keep my muscles warm in any weather. But he definatly has put on muscle he looks like a gymnast.

John Cintron


wrote …

I would love to see more footage of him. There was a video link off the games 2010 site similar to this one but it was showing him doing his heavy clean and jerks and he was talking about his training a bit. Anyone know what happened to that video? He's really inspiring to watch.


wrote …

Animal. My money is on Mikko for a repeat this year. I'm a huge fan of Jason Khalipa and Chris Spealler too but I just can't see Mikko losing. Can't wait for the games!


wrote …

Fitter and quicker than the 2009 Games, and he's still humble. A true champ.


wrote …

Spealler when asked that question said he was beatable (and the look on his face seemed like he was a little smug honestly). Mikko is definitely beatable in single categories, sure. Over many rounds though? I don't think anyone will be able to compete at his level, especially after a year of fine-tuning his training and diet. I mean hell, if you watch the 09 games he could barely do double-unders (didn't even do them in a row if you watch the chipper and he STILL won).


wrote …

He also got many reps taken away in the triplet. I definatly see him in the top 5 unless someone does something insane and coming in first or second in every event which is hard. Jason could very well do it. Can't wait for the Games.


wrote …

Mikko is such a badass. I think Spealler is just too small of a build and khalipa too big to beat him if the games this year are anything representative of last year. They are all tremendous athletes. Going to be fun to watch.


wrote …

WOW!!! Thats all I can say


wrote …

This guy is a beast. He will have a top 5 finish at the games, no doubt. The games are crazy though, Might be another unknown this year. Spealler looks great, as does Mikko and Khalipa. Its a toss up. Can't wait!!!!


replied to comment from Leigh Gant

Leight, technique is defined by the results. It's possible he could do it better by some artificial construct of technique, but I doubt his work out put would increase. That said, it's a pointless argument; we'll never know.


wrote …

Could anyone hear what Mikko said he did for the strength workout? I couldn't quite hear what he said. All I caught was 7 or 8 x 1 of 127.5 kilos. Did anyone hear the rest?


wrote …

mikko for president


wrote …

great video (again) Sevan.

I love Mikko as an athlete but really admire his humility and stoicism. I really hope he wins.

A word of caution though for those wanting to anoint him. Remember last year, all the talk was of Everett, Speal, Thiel and Khalipa. Well, with the exception of Khalipa, none of them made the top 5.

This time last year, no one was talking about Mikko, Tommy, Moe and Commando Steve. There will be some smokies out there...and not just the ones who won their region. Hackenbruck didn't even qualify from his region last year.

And on the subject of Tommy, let's not forget that he was ahead of Mikko til the last event and that he was pretty new to Crossfit last year.

I actually think that the bigger favourite should be Annie, who I think will be hard to stop this year.

but....Come on Mikko!


To Benjamin,

- 7-8 x 1 Power Clean and Jerk; max 127.5kg, 5 or 6 of those reps at 125kg
- 3 x 1 Power Clean and 3 Jerks; 120kgs

To anyone,

What are Mikko's weaknesses? Any chinks in the armor compared with the other 49 male competitors?


wrote …

Mikko will not be favourite to win any of the events, but as we saw last year, the guy that can beat him on the run is miles away from him on the heavy stuff and vice versa. I think Kahlippa's metcon and superior strength will be a threat, as will the unknown competitors, but given Mikko's physical improvements he could completely dominate. 6 inches on last years dead lift and he'd have won it before the chipper and that's including a poor showing in the controversial hammer event which massively favoured Tommy. All these guys are legends, but I just think Mikko is so well rounded..... and that is the name of the game.


replied to comment from Nick Williams


I agree 100%. I think the beauty of CrossFit is that one you are competent, in the case of the Games' competitors excellent, across broad time and modal domains, it's anybody's game. Mikko is a ridiculous athlete. No question. But so are some others out there. And what comes out of the hopper will be a great influence on the outcome.

Oh and thanks Ben L.


replied to comment from Leigh Gant



replied to comment from Cerveau Gauche

Ugly back angle.

The weight (judging by how often and how quickly he moved it) is light for him. So his lumbar spine can handle the load easily. You could make an argument, as someone above does, that it doesn't matter and that it was necessary for his top speed. It's not the optimal position to load your spine (but his spine was relatively lightly loaded). Kelly Starrett would likely advise the optimal position. Speal might see that flaw as making him "beatable". I have no idea. Impressive work capacity, not perfect technique....but it's a never ending argument about where the balance between the two lies.


replied to comment from Cerveau Gauche

Every lift he does his back in rounded.

Hell, at 1:27 he said one of his stratigies was "fight agaist the back pain", which would be resolved with form.

The guy is a beast, and if I was going to bet it would be him or speal, you never really know.


wrote …

Death by C&j round what? 13? yea everyones back gets a little crooked cranking out 105 reps of c&j.


replied to comment from Cerveau Gauche

His back is rounded or at least not perfectly aligned. Doesn't matter though, compare to Josh Everett's 1:11 (IIRC) Isabel with Snatches, stiff legged as well, but both incredible performances.

My money is on Mikko.


replied to comment from Paul Eich

Good vs. Bad technique isn't defined by results. *Effectiveness* is certainly defined by results, but just because one is effective doesn't mean one has good technique. For example, look at Tim Lincecum (SF Giants pitcher), whose technique is often criticized even though he has won the last two NL Cy Young awards. In golf, Jim Furyk is another example. Very effective technique, but hardly the sort to be taught as a model for others.

In any event...I look forward to seeing how the Games go this year. Mikko looks hard to stop.

- Mark


wrote …

Anyone thats in the GAMES is a BEAST PERIOD


wrote …

"Fight against the bad feeling"


wrote …

I'm a huge fan of Khalipa and Orlando, but after watching this film, I can't see anyone beating Mikko on anymore than a fluke. You look at him and he exemplifies what the Crossfit philosophy is about.


wrote …

I can't wait to see the results of the games this year! Mikko is one hell of an athlete but arent they all? Excited to see the results!


wrote …

Regarding Mikko's form - it could me more dialed in during the C&J's, he could set his back more, get his hips a bit lower and use more of his legs...regardless, it just speaks to the fact that the weight he's using (relative to his strength) is light for him. Khalipa's form from the 08 games on the 'heavy squat grace' was no better - stiff legs, rounded back etc... They're both phenominal athletes and I can't wait to watch them compete again.


replied to comment from Paul Eich

Technique is not defined by results. He is an amazing athlete, but it will only take one of these poorly executed lifts to stop him from competing when he hurts himself.

Plus its not a "clean and jerk" unless you actually do it properly. This should be called "death by ground to over head anyhow"

My money is still on this guy to win though, very inspirational!!!!


wrote …

You look at Mikko's technique in the video and it's not the same as a weightlifter going for a max on clean and jerk but who says that the weightlifter's way is most efficient for doing reps with 60kg? Maybe you get a little bit of extra whip out of extending your back with a light weight and the forces aren't big enough to damage your ligaments and discs.


wrote …

Okay, is it too superficial for me to say, "Rawr! Hottee!"? Well, sometimes a gal's just gotta objectify. And I agree that he is quite the inspiration. Man, working through that metcon after doing heavy c&js is pure badassery. Hmm, wonder if our trainer would throw that in now and then? What doesn't kill ya...


wrote …

Holy, crap. That was amazing! Good luck, Mikko!


wrote …

My respect goes out to all the 2010 participants. Winners and losers come and go (that's just life) -- I think one of the most important things we can certainly take away from these sportsmen are the depth of their character. In the videos that followed last years games, the CF community was able to see a side of CrossFitters that I think was truly eye-opening. The winners of the 2009 games weren't just amazing athletes, but also human beings that we all admired for their humility as well as (and much thanks to many others in similar "service"-oriented occupations) their contributions to their community -- a firefighter and a teacher, IMHO, occupations that truly represent the heroes of this world.

Not trying to idolize the champs (past and present), but it certainly is figureheads like these that help keep me motivated and proud to say I CrossFit.

Keep up the great work, Mikko! (AND EVERYONE ELSE!)


wrote …

The man is beasting that weight, and he is already a well established athlete. That weight is nothing to him, so a rounded back isnt much of a threat. He's going for reps, for intensiy. Tell me at the end of fran that Mr. Leigh's back doesnt round out at all. Fatigue causes a breakdown in form, and that's okay. He's got this, he's safe. I'd like to see you try and "coach" him and make him any better than he already is. Why even come on to flame they guy about his technique like youre freakin' Coach Mike? You do what he just did, then talk. The man is a monster. Let it go. With a new client who is weaker and less experienced, you place the importance on form, to keep them safe. I think mikko's going to be okay, but thank you for all of your expert input on form. Thats exactly what this video needed. PSH.


replied to comment from Kurt Mullican

Don't know if that was directed at me. I was trying to say that the rounded to extended back technique might be more efficient for reps than the weightlifter's technique with a stiff back. I don't know. It might be more efficient because there are more moving parts - some of the work is done by the back and the legs can go for longer.


wrote …

"I'm happy now." - Are you happy during it? "NO!"


replied to comment from Duncan Beattie

Duncan, you articulated what I meant.

He could have slowed and struggled for a textbook 'technique' but it would not have produced the desired outcome - more work in less time. This ground has been covered many times by Coach. Yes, you should be on time and in the right place, but when you are setting world records, you might miss a shot, hit the wall a time or two, or deviate from perfect 'technique' in a CnJ.

Mikko did 13 CnJs in 60s after doing 91 CnJs in the previous 12 minutes. What's the most room for improvement he could get from better 'technique' - one rep? I doubt even that.

I think of that Pittsburg linebacker who picked off Warner for the 2009 SB and returned the ball 100 yards for a touchdown. That wasn't good running technique. For a variety of reasons, the technique freaks can't see anything but small deviations from some conception of technique when there's the equivalent of a 100 yard INT return happening right before their eyes.

Kurt said it well.



wrote …

Thanks Kurt. Well said.


wrote …

In post no 24 Paul Harris says one of Mikko's strategies is to "fight against the back pain" which would be resolved with form. I don't think Mikko says that at all. I think he says "fight against the bad feeling".

I'm not sure whether there are any bad form issues at all. Unfortunately we don't get to see any of Mikko's early reps in his metcon. We see one rep of his heavy lifting session and he looks like he has got standard stiff back weightlifter form on his heavy power clean. Then we only get to see the end of his metcon where he is using his back quite a lot. So it's impossible to know from watching the video whether his form changes over the course of the metcon session. It could be that he deliberately uses the rounded to extended back technique throughout the metcon session, or maybe part of his strategy is to use more effort with his back as his legs begin to tire out. Anyway, his metcon clean looks like a combination of a weightlifting clean and a rowing pull - possibly a good strategy under the circumstances.


wrote …

How do you say "suckfest" in Finnish?


wrote …

suckfest in Finnish = "ei paha"


wrote …

Mikko will win again and Europeans will dominate Crossfit just like they dominate the Worlds Strongest Man competitions. It is in their blood!! I also believe they have a nutritional advantage but we wont get into that.


wrote …

I just liked that he put his weights away afterwards. That's a humble champ and a good example.


replied to comment from Joel Snape

MIKO rules!!!


wrote …

"Are you happy during it?" HAHAHAHHAHAH, what the hell.

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