Book review number 2: Becoming a supple leopard (Kelly Starrett)


I’ve been out for a few weeks, but you are not getting rid of me that easily. As you know, I’ve been busy with the training location (if you haven’t been there: check out the pictures in the training location tab!) and working on some exciting projects coming up. But one of my goals was to read every single day in 2017. A week ago, I finished the mammoth book by Kelly Starrett called “Becoming a supple leopard”.

What a weird title

Before you think I am becoming a yogi: this book is on injury prevention, joint mobility and correct form on excercises. It was written by dr. Kelly Starrett, a well-known name in the CrossFit world and the developer of www.mobilitywod.com. I had the pleasure of meeting him just over a year ago at the Get Together Sports Conference in Amsterdam.

So what’s in the book?

“Becoming a supple leopard” highlights the importance of good posture and mobility to both maximize performance and reduce the risk of injury.

The first part talks about a lot of general concepts and techniques. One that particulary sticked was the “tunnel concept”, in which he explains how if you enter an excercise with low/incorrect body tension and posture, you will not be able to correct it during the movement. Therfor, screaming “get your knees out” to a squatting athlete might not always be the best cure, but you’d rather have them screw there feet in the ground before they even squat down.

The second part covers all the main excercises in strength and conditioning. The principles in part 1 are now applied in specific settings. All common mistakes and possible causes are highlighted, both those caused by low activation or by mobility restrictions.

To finish it off, there is an area-by-area rundown of your entire body, with mobilization techniques for each. Again the principles of part 1 are applied.

My opinion

The techniques used, especially the mobilizations, are rarely new or ground-breaking. It is very clear to see that Kelly Starrett has a physiotherapy background: PNF, banded distractions and translations, hold-relax, … They are all well-known within the world of phsyiotherapy. That does however not take away from the fact that he as none before managed to make especially mobility very “trendy” again. Don’t get me wrong: the muscle activation and technical exercise explanations are all very interesting, but there is a ton of work on that already.¬†If you ask a random CrossFitter on Kelly Starrett, you will hear “that guy with his mobility drills” time and time again.

Kelly Starrett managed not only to highlight the importance of joint mobility, but also make it accessible and easy to do on your own with basic equipment.

To put it short: I am happy I read the book and would definitely recommend it to anyone who has a good understanding on the human body and movement, since it is not an easy one to read with a lot of difficult terminology for those who don’t know much on the body. Definitely not a beginner book.

That’s it for me for today… Keep an eye on 3-2-1 Fit for some exciting stuff coming up soon!