Interview with Mia Akerlund: Member of the Games Bound Barebells Prepared Team

Mia Akerlund. Photo via Instagram/@miaakerlund
Mia Akerlund. Photo via Instagram/@miaakerlund

2019 has been a good year for Mia Akerlund. From competing at the European Championships in Olympic Weightlifting to earning multiple invites to compete at the CrossFit Games (as an individual and on a team) to planning a wedding, Akerlund has been busy.

We managed to catch up with Akerlund recently to find out how she is balancing everything right now, why she decided to go team and how wedding planning is going. Check out our interview below.

The Barbell Spin (TBBS): You have a pretty interesting background before you found CrossFit – grappling and BJJ. How BJJ helped you with your CrossFit career?

Mia Akerlund (MA): Yeah I think the grappling and BJJ helped a lot with mobility, and core strength. When you are ‘rolling’ ( the phrase we are using for the actually wrestling) you have to use so much deep core muscles and obviously you end up in the weirdest positions 😂 I feel like it helped a lot for neck strength as well, we do a lot of strength work for the neck.

TBBS: You made it to the Games on CrossFit Fabriken early in your CrossFit career (2015). Since then you have made it to Regionals as an individual. What made you want to compete on a team again this year?

MA: When all the changes got announced we (Phil and I) started to talk about trying to put a team together. Pretty early we talked with Alex Elebro, but it was harder to find a girl for the team.

Going to Cape Town I knew I could do well, but I didn’t expect to come second at all!
Even tho things wasn’t for sure, we knew that Katrin most likely would qualify from the open and the invite would go to me.

But I was already committed to the team, and by now we had Synne Krokstad joining us.

Competing in a team is a lot of fun, sharing the happy, though and crazy moments with other people is something special. And with this new format with 4 people it’s just even more intense!

TBBS: Your team, Barebells Prepared (CrossFit Alioth), won the CrossFit Lowlands Throwdown. How excited are you to compete as a team with your fiancé, Phil Hesketh?

MA: This is something Phil and I wanted to do already for the 2018 season, but as they announced the changes the team we planned to go with fell apart and we decided to do one more year individual. Having this experience together is something special, so I’m super exited!

TBBS: You also compete in Olympic Weightlifting, most recently at the European Championships. What is more nerve racking, getting ready to walk on the platform or waiting for the 3,2,1,Go at a CrossFit competition?

MA: A lot of people is asking this question, and it’s a bit hard to explain. But I’m always more nervous waiting for the 3,2,1.

When competing in weightlifting, I go in to the platform , and I do one lift. No matter what happen, I will leave the platform and ‘reset’.

When going in to a CF event, I know how deep in the pain cave I need to go to do well.
I think that is what’s making me so nervous, preparing to be in so much pain, for a long time. 🙈

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I started to write a really long post, explaining my feelings leading up and during the European championship. But the people close around me know what happened, so I’ll make it “short”. I missed my first snatch, but after that they felt really good. For my final lift there was some coaching misses which lost me the chance for medal. 🤷🏽‍♀️ . I was really excited for the clean and jerk, to show my hard work. But as I pull the bar from the floor it’s just not feeling right, and I’m not managing to lift good until my last lift, in the end that was enough for 🥉 in CJ. One kilo away from the podium overall , which is super frustrating with the circumstances. I was upset with myself for not showing how good I believed I was before the competition. 😐 . I’m proud how I handled diversity and finished the session. 😈 Earning myself a medal, and feeling that I have more to give is a good sign for the future 😉 After all, this is just sport and I’m privileged that I get to travel and represent Sweden 🇸🇪 Massive thank you 🤗 to every single person sending a message, cheering and just being awesome in general!🥰 . This is my final CJ (118kg) from @hookgrip and my final snatch 96kg. . . A special thank you to @prepared.programming and @lyftare for making me decent in both CrossFit and weightlifting 😁

A post shared by Maria Åkerlund (@miaakerlund) on

TBBS: With a little over a month before the Games, how is the team training to best prepare for Dave Castro’s programming?

MA: At the moment the team is not training together, but I think it’s important to still work on your weaknesses, and not always do team workouts. Next week Alex and Synne is coming to Alioth, so we will get a week of training together before we leave for Chicago for another week there.

TBBS: How do you balance coaching at CF Alioth and training for the Games?

MA: I usually work in the morning, then leave the hours between 10.30-16.30 for training. Then I work classes and PT in the evening again. It’s can end up being long days in the gym, but we have such a good atmosphere at Alioth , so I don’t mind.

TBBS: What do you do to recover from the high volume training?

MA: I take one day full rest, and one day with only swimming. I try to go for massage once a week, and also make sure to stretch after each session. Other from that I eat a lot of food, and sleep.  Those two are probably the most important for me, eat and sleep.

TBBS: What are your thoughts on the recent failed drug tests? Do you think the testing program, with the new Sanctional format, is working?

MA: I think it’s sad to see that so many people are failing tests, whether it’s on purpose or not. I guess with more competitions, more people get tested, which is good. But we also have around 180 guys and girls from the open that won’t be tested until the games, if even then.

TBBS: When is the team heading to the US for the Games?

MA: We are leaving for Chicago on the 22 July, that gives us a week there before heading to Madison.

TBBS: Are all the wedding plans done? Or will you have to come back after the Games and finalize everything?

MA: The wedding plans are almost done. But it’s so many things you don’t think of!
We still have some things on the ‘ To Do’ list, but we are getting there. Luckily I have Phil who actually likes to plan things 🙈.

But yeah, we are heading back to Dubai for two weeks after the games, so basically changing luggage, and then leave for Mallorca!

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