Built to Move Summary

1-Sentence-Summary: Built to Move is a collection of 10 simple tests and practices you can use to instantly improve your mobility, fitness, breathing, eating, and sleeping, thereby increasing your freedom and quality of life all around.

Read in: 4 minutes

Favorite quote from the author:

Built to Move Summary

If you’re hoping for a meet-cute story when first encountering your significant other, how about saving your future husband’s life? That’s what Juliet did at the 2000 World Rafting Championships in Chile.

The cocky men’s team went under about two seconds after plunging headfirst into the Futaleufú River’s dangerous currents. Moments later, Juliet extended a hand to Kelly, a man whom she had only met hours before, and gave him the Terminator line: “Come with me if you want to live.”

Come he did, and live they still do. After their whitewater rafting days, the couple opened one of the first CrossFit gyms in the US. Their Youtube channel, The Ready State, has helped everyday folks improve their mobility for almost 15 years.

That’s also what the Starretts aim to do in Built to Move, an instant New York Times bestseller. The book offers 10 pairs of simple tests and practices we can use to judge and improve our vitality. They are:

  1. Getting up and down off the floor
  2. Breathing properly and easily
  3. Extending our hips
  4. Walking 8,000-10,000 steps a day
  5. Having a good range of motion in our neck and shoulders
  6. Eating 800 grams of fruit and veggies and 1 gram of protein per lb of body weight per day
  7. Being able to squat and stay in that position
  8. Balancing on one leg with our eyes closed
  9. Tracking our sitting time and lowering it to 6 hours a day or less
  10. Counting only the hours we actually sleep and making sure we get at least 7 per night

Here’s a closer look at 3 of those lessons, numbers 1, 4, and 7:

  1. Do the Sit-and-Rise test until you can comfortably sit on the floor, cross-legged, for 30 minutes.
  2. Take inventory of your step count for 3 days, then shoot for at least 8,000 steps per day.
  3. Practice your squat and reap the health benefits of this vital pose common in Asian culture.

Let’s see how a few small tweaks to our daily routine can add up to a lot more flexibility, health, and freedom!

If you want to save this summary for later, download the free PDF and read it whenever you want.

Download PDF

Lesson 1: If you can’t go from standing to sitting cross-legged without using your hands, you should practice it on daily basis.

The Starretts define mobility as “being able to move in the ways nature designed us to move.” Therefore, they recommend going back to movements and positions we used all the time as children.

The first one is sitting cross-legged and getting into and out of that position without needing any support. Our bodies were built to sit on rough terrain and without back support. Sitting cross-legged maintains our hip joints’ natural range of motion.

To test your ability to sit cross-legged, stand barefoot, cross one leg in front of the other, and lower yourself into the cross-legged position. Try doing it without using your hands or knees for support. Then, rise again in the same way. You can extend your arms forward if it helps, but try not to touch anything. Can you do it?

If you start with a score of 10 and deduct one point for every time you struggle or need support, how many do you end up with after sitting down and getting up again? 7-9 is okay, 10 is ideal, and anything below 7 means you have room to improve.

Practice this movement every day for a week, spend 30 minutes sitting on the floor each day, then re-do the test and see how you do.

Pro tip: You must do this barefoot. Socks will be too slippery. Your feet will give you the grip you need.

Lesson 2: Track your steps for 3 days, then up your count to get closer to 8,000.

Between the summers of 2016 and 2017, I walked 10,000 steps every day for a year. On some days, it was serious work to hit that mark. I didn’t always feel like taking a 45-minute stroll just to make my target. But I did learn several lessons.

One of them was that walking gives you time to think. I had so many more good ideas. Another was that walking provides a great baseline of health. It’s one of the easiest, most accessible ways to move. It also gets you out of the house and is a great time to be mindful.

To get an idea of how much you’re walking, use a step tracker*, smart watch, or your smartphone, to count your steps from morning to night for three days in a row. What’s the average? 2,000? 6,000? 500? Chances are, you’re not walking enough.

While early humans likely got in 12,000-17,000 steps a day, for us, 8,000-10,000 is already a solid number — if we maintain it consistently, that is. Plus, at 8,000 steps a day, you’ll already burn twice as many calories as you would when running three times a week!

Wear comfy shoes, go barefoot in your garden, or make your neighborhood park your new wind-down ritual. Walk more. You won’t regret it.

Lesson 3: Relearn how to squat and spend some time in this position every day.

My girlfriend was born in Malaysia. In school, she used to squat every day — on the toilet! Squat toilets — essentially a hole in the floor — were the only kind they had.

Even outside the bathroom, however, squatting is common in Asian culture. People squat to smoke, to eat, and to wait around. Even the Singaporean Prime Minister squats in his suit! A study connects squatting to up to 90% lower rates of hip arthritis.

What about you? Can you still squat? This is another position children spend a lot of time in, yet adults often lose the ability altogether.

Stand with your feet at least hip-width apart, extend your arms, bend your knees, and slowly lower your butt towards the ground. Don’t worry about keeping your back straight. Go as low as you can and hold your balance for five breaths.

Well? How low can you go? If you can’t bring your butt to hover just a few inches above the ground, repeat the exercise daily while slowly going lower. Once you’re re-mastered the squat, you’ll have yet one more way to take care of your health while also taking care of business — and not just the kind that happens on the loo!

Built to Move Review

With Built to Move, the Starretts hand us what they call their “life jacket” — a reminder going back all the way to their first meeting that we can never stop doing the basics. While you don’t have to implement all 10 habits at once, I’m positive almost anyone will find at least one small tweak in this book that’ll help them live healthier immediately. Good one!

Who would I recommend our Built to Move summary to?

The 32-year-old young professional who finds himself to be surprisingly out of shape given his young age, the 65-year-old retiree who thinks she no longer can do much of anything with her body, and anyone who secretly knows they spend too much time sitting.

Rate this book!
This book has an average rating of 5 based on 5 votes.

Niklas Göke

Niklas Göke is an author and writer whose work has attracted tens of millions of readers to date. He is also the founder and CEO of Four Minute Books, a collection of over 1,000 free book summaries teaching readers 3 valuable lessons in just 4 minutes each. Born and raised in Germany, Nik also holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Business Administration & Engineering from KIT Karlsruhe and a Master’s Degree in Management & Technology from the Technical University of Munich. He lives in Munich and enjoys a great slice of salami pizza almost as much as reading — or writing — the next book — or book summary, of course!