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Becoming a Supple Leopard: The Ultimate Guide to Resolving Pain, Preventing Injury, and Optimizing Athletic Performance

4.40  ·  Rating details ·  5,145 ratings  ·  215 reviews

Join the movement that has reached millions of athletes and coaches; learn how to perform basic maintenance on your body, unlock your human potential, live pain free…and become a Supple Leopard.

Improve your athletic performance, extend your athletic career, treat body stiffness and achy joints, and rehabilitate injuries—all
Hardcover, 400 pages
Published April 23rd 2013 by Victory Belt Publishing (first published February 10th 2013)
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Veronica Moss Obviously by doing more yoga and then figuring out the secret of how to morph into an endangered species.
Sandy Abel It is my understanding that when you have your feet just under your hips, it is best with toes pointed forward. However, toes can be out about 30 degr…moreIt is my understanding that when you have your feet just under your hips, it is best with toes pointed forward. However, toes can be out about 30 degrees for more comfort. The placement of the feet is for your BOS (base of support). If you have toes pointed too much, you loose stability in the base. Try it yourself and you'll see. Regarding the tracking of knees, for squats I try to push my knees out away from my feet to open up the hip joint. For deadlifts, I keep my knees straight. (less)

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Feb 18, 2014 rated it it was ok
Shelves: health, non-fiction, 2014

The first 20% of this book is just stupid and almost entirely unnecessary. I'm not exaggerating when I say it could have been condensed to two pages and the book overall would have been the better for it. To save you the trouble of reading a fifth of the book, I'll just sum it up for you. In one sentence: The way that I stand is the right way, and everyone should stand like me.

This point of view is distinctly different and separate from the sentence: I like to stand the right way. It's also
Aug 28, 2013 rated it really liked it
Highly recommended if you are an athlete, trainer, coach, or someone with a physically strenuous job. I don't really fall into any of those categories but the book was for me too.

If you weight train, I'd call this book essential. You need to know you're performing your lifts correctly to both maximize your potential and to prevent injuries that can be exacerbated by repetitions over time. The book is full of photographs demonstrating a variety of exercises and common faults to avoid.

How does thi
Jun 26, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Are you tired of being told that your aches / paints / injuries / etc. will go away if you "just do more yoga / strength work / stretch more"? Do you feel like you're just cobbling together a mix of common sense & pseudo-science & hoping for the best without any clear idea of what is *actually* causing your problems and what is *actually* likely to fix things?

If so, you might at the very least find this book interesting. Starrett's philosophy is that “All human beings should be able to perform b
Sandy Abel
Oct 14, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I am fascinated with the mechanics of the human body. This book was awesome! I wish I discovered this earlier in my life but I'm not dead yet! You are never to old to learn. Also, it is so important to keep moving as we get older to keep our joints lubricated, muscles and bones, strong. It is a good preventive maintenance book plus you learn great form and function. ...more
May 08, 2013 rated it it was amazing
The absolute best reference on keeping your body pain-free while getting fit. Kelly not only knows his stuff, he makes it understandable to the layperson.

The detailed pics & descriptions make this book a must-have
Sep 29, 2020 rated it it was amazing
You can go through life, especially youth, not realizing you're doing a lot of basic things wrong. As middle age creeps in, things like bad posture, too much sitting, and back rounding start to manifest in various ways.

Starett takes nothing for granted. He tells you how to properly stand (by screwing your feet into the ground, squeezing your butt, and bracing your midsection), how to do a pushup, how do jump and so forth.

Starett breaks down all the movements into the basic archetypes of squat,
May 05, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The last section of this book is my favorite. It has a diagram of the body that is color coded by regions. For each region there is a corresponding set of exercises to relieve pain in this part of your body. It is incredibly useful and worth every penny of the book. I was pleasantly surprised to find that the rest of the book is also a useful reference that includes a theory of exercise and lots of exercises that you can do at home.
Kim Pallister
Apr 23, 2013 rated it really liked it
I finished the book a while back but am just getting around to posting a review.

Kelly Starrett is really well known in the Crossfit community. As a Crossfit gym owner and Doctor of Physical Therapy, he has carved out a really niche of expertise as being the "joint, form and mobility guy" of crossfit. In addition, he has posted a ton of really useful videos to youtube over the past couple years that have made him a well known name. So, when he announced the book, many people pre-ordered and I wa
Jessenia Kahn
Jun 01, 2015 rated it really liked it
I love to work out with my main areas being Crossfit, Olympic Weightlifting, and general weightlifting in the gym. My coach recommended this book very early on into my Crossfit journey. I thank the heavens for Kelly Starlett, his books and his website MobilityWOD. There are so many people that come into the box dealing with previous injuries, mobility issues, or are currently dealing with injuries. I've spent a lot of time observing individuals and one big difference is the amount of time people ...more
Apr 04, 2013 rated it it was amazing
I kind of want to give this book four and a half stars instead of five because even though I absolutely love this book and its easily my most useful I feel it has a few flaws.

1. Starrett seems to have gone commercial completely siding with Rogue making his website something you have to pay for and this book showing a lot of product placement.

2. I feel even though this is 400 page it could have been longer and more stuff could have been put into it. I remember WODs present on the site that aren'
Chelsea Lawson
Mar 24, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This is/was a life-changing book for me, up there with Marie Kondo’s Magic of Tidying and Essentialism. I have such a deeper understanding of body mechanics and how to go about training in order to handle loaded movements with proper alignment, grace, and power... like a leopard.

A few things I’ll be ruminating on and integrating into my exercise routines in the coming years:
- Start with focusing on the default position of an organized spine and neutral jaw
- Movements come down to motor control (
Leo W.
May 23, 2020 rated it it was ok
Read it cover-to-cover and found it one of the worse written books in my experience. Endlessly repetitive. Author invents words for movements and stretches that are well-known and places them in 'his' system. First part, which is about a quarter of the book in length, could easily have been written in 5 pages. It basically tells you how to stand and what muscles to engage before undergoing a movement. Not useless info, but hardly qualifies as insightful. The second introduces basic lifts. Done m ...more
Braydon Phillips
May 20, 2021 rated it it was amazing
Awesome book about movement and mobility. The principles outlined in this text is concise and easy to implement. I came to this book after some back pain from constant sitting, and over developed musculature on one side.

The first principle on spinal stability and bracing the spine whenever performing most movements, and that our spine is not designed to bend all that much, (our body is essentially a giant hinge and we're supposed to bend at the hips and keep the spine tight and straight) was ve
Livio Dinaj
May 06, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Completely changed the way I viewed motion, and has done the most in furthering my understanding of the human body in terms of its functionality. I realised that my hyper mobility was causing my chronic lower back\hip pain. The heuristics of the "two hand rule" in checking whether I've been hyper extending my spine has prevented so many injuries, just to name an example. When I see a physio, I can actually understand a lot better what his interventions and therapeutical exercises are meant to do ...more
Travis Tazelaar
Sep 16, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Best book on exercise I've read in many years. Think you're in a good position because that's what you learned in high school? Have pain in your hips? Travel a lot and forced to sit? This book will help you figure out how to fix that pain and get into good position when you're training or even just walking down the street. I cannot recommend this book enough to anyone. Even if you hate exercising you'll find very useful tips in here to help mitigate pain. ...more
Simon Stelzl
3,5 Stars. Contains some useful advice, but also filled with lots of pseudoscientific nonsense. It's more or less impossible for people without medical/physiotherapeutic background to tell the difference, or more specifically sort the given Informationen into one of these two categories. Thus I cannot fully recommend this book to everyone. ...more
Kris Muir
Dec 29, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Today I finished reading “Becoming a Supple Leopard” and I put it #3 on my list of books read in 2016. Kelly Starrett has taken something so simple and ubiquitous--movement--and given us a theoretical framework and practical prescriptions for how to improve how we move on a daily basis at home, at work, in the gym, and in athletic competition.

There are some daily reminders that we can all implement, like how to properly brace yourself and create torque before sitting or picking up any object, wh
Sarah Clement
May 07, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: to-purchase
This is less a book to read from cover to cover, and more a coffee table (or gym, more accurately) resource. I learned a lot from this book in terms of both movement and mobility, and I will return to this as a resource time and gain. I think the beginning chapters are certainly worth reading, however, and I tried to cheat the system by skipping right to the mobility bits and found myself returning to read them. I understand that the format of this new edition is much improved since the previous ...more
Jul 08, 2014 rated it liked it
The mobility work is useful stuff, but I'm left feeling a little bit limited since I don't have a lot of the equipment here at home (boxes, a stable pole to tie bands onto, barbells, etc.)...

The other half of the book is just silly. There's minimal references to works that would justify what is being said, and there seems to be a lot of contradictions. For instance, one of the trainers Starrett claims to be indebted to specifically says to turn the feet out at about 30 degrees when squatting --
Jan 04, 2014 rated it liked it
I love Kelly Starrett and so I was excited when I first learned about this book. I pre-ordered it as soon as I could. I was expecting to see his helpful Mobility WODs in book form, with lots of illustrations and descriptions.

The book does have a lot of great photos and explanations, but a lot of it deals with the various Crossfit movements, like lifting and even rowing and wall ball. That's helpful stuff indeed, but I'm fortunate to have great coaches at my gym to teach me that already, and ther
Apr 27, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: by-men, read-in-2013
Fundamentally, this book is an organization and systemization of the material that Kelly Starrett has posted on It covers his axioms of human movement, applies those axioms to teaching correct form on fundamental strength exercises, and provides a set of techniques to address mobility issues preventing you from moving correctly. There's a lot more here than just a bunch of 'stretching exercises'- it's really treating the human body as a complete system and provides a manual for ...more
May 15, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: crossfit
By the first look at the book, this is truly amazing. Loads of images, hints and explanations how to do the various exercises right. It also contains a load of information how to fix common problems like immobilities.

If you are into CrossFit this is the ultimate guide. If you want to become a better athlete, this will help you in many ways.

I am seriously blown away by the book! After reading and viewing my expectations were pretty high, I was not disappointed!
Thai Son
Jul 20, 2018 rated it liked it
Shelves: training
Good writing, but not really as universal as it projects itself to be. I got hooked thanks to the anecdotes, but I'd rather do some yoga instead of what's presented here. I already saw a lot of opinions against this text, most notably from Quinn Henoch of Juggernaut, and I stand by his critique.
Regardless I learned some new stuff.
Jun 12, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Takes a while to get through this book but it has a vast amount of knowledge that I now use each time I am at the gym weight its just doing some deadlifts or I am doing some recovery.

Every athletic should have this book.
Jan 27, 2014 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Coaches, Athletes
Recommended to Jeremy by: Kelly Starrett
Supple Leopard is basically the course notes to Kelly Starrett's Mobility and Movement seminar. ...more
Nov 03, 2017 rated it liked it
For what it is, this book should have references to support what he's recommending patients. Still, I appreciate that he takes injury prevention so seriously for those doing CrossFit. ...more
Peter Adams
Nov 16, 2020 rated it liked it
Starrett views training in the gym as a means to get the perfect technique in "archetypical" movements and then teaching the athlete to combine movements to practice transitions, to ultimately remove pain in daily life and enhance athletic performance. It's a pretty comprehensive book, covering topics ranging from principles of healthy movement, how to sit, stand up, perform strength exercises and to mobilize.

Starret introduces the idea of creating torque, which he seems pretty proud of, conside
Lee Dawna
Jul 10, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Becoming a Supple Leopard by Dr. Kelly Starrett with Glen Cordoza isn’t a book you read, it’s an education you work through. From stabilizing and organizing your spine, to creating torque and setting your body up in such a way as to not lose said torque through inefficient movement patterns, to using your braced spine and torqued position through myriads of movements that not only relate to lifting heavy in a gym, but to everyday functional movement patterns. The book even addresses the issue of ...more
Steve P
This is very good in terms of being a new and interesting take on mobility. The resources are extensive and it gives good programming advice. The descriptions of exercise are pretty clear, and the principles of movement are described in detail. A lot of Kelly's content is great. He was one of the first people to advocate ATG squats in mainstream, as well as point out all the flaws with western lifestlye and how they influence many physiological diseases we suffer from.

I'm dropping the rating to
MR J D Astill
May 23, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
If you want to improve your mobility, you've got to pay the piper....

If you are looking for a quick win, then move on. There's a price to be paid for increasing your mobility and athletic performance. That price is time. Firstly, time to read the book. Secondly, time to work on the mobility plan. It is worth it though. In the last month, following Starret's plan for ankle and knee mobilization, I can finally get into a balls to the floor squat position, and the discomfort in that position is gra
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“You hate to cultivate the mindset that anything that is not a braced neutral spinal position is probably going to kill you.” 1 likes
“You can’t just tune out and do the work. Sport, combat, and life don’t work like that. You have to train smart and hard, with consciousness. This is what training is for. Resolve now to change your criteria from quantity to quality and judge your movement based on form, not on how many repetitions you can complete.” 0 likes
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