Monday, September 2, 2013

Book Review: Becoming a Supple Leopard

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 was one of them.

The book is good, though it has a couple flaws (I'll get to those later). It's organized in two main parts.

The first section deals with categorizing all the major crossfit movements from gymnastics, olympic lifting, etc. Deadlift, Clean & Jerk, Pullups, Handstand Pushups, and many more are organized based on the degree of difficulty (mostly having to do with how dynamically one has to stabilize the load & form). I liked this section, as the logic made a lot of sense, modulo the flaws below.

The second section discusses all the major muscles & joints in the body, and covers a range of techniques of how to better stretch, mobilize, floss, and otherwise work them into better range of motion and stability. This section was also useful, but made less sense to read logically back to back, rather than a reference to build a program from and/or to mix up a program of mobility work.

The flaws I found with the book are threefold. Two are relatively minor.

First, Starrett uses a little too much 'bro-speak' in his language. It's fine, and what we've come to expect, in his videos, which are quite conversational in tone, but in print it feels a little cheesy. This is a minor complaint

Second, given the huge number of videos he's posted in the past, there's probably very little here that you can't get by watching all the videos for free. However, I didn't mind paying some extra to have all of the same information in a logically organized form. It would also be nice to provide some reference/link to any youtube videos where those made sense to add clarity to the text/pictures in the book.

My third, and only major complaint, is that the book could have really benefited from spending some money on an anatomical illustrations. When Starrett talks about torque in the shoulder capsule, it would be nice to have some actuall "under the hood" illustrations.

These things aside, I still found the book useful and would recommend it to all crossfitters.