There are no less than a million exercises out there from which to choose. All promise “something”. Some just get you tired, like poorly performed burpees, but some, like those I'll be looking at over the next few weeks, really do deliver the goods like improving your ability to run better and reduce injury risk. While the Clock Squat is not an exercise that will get one crazy strong like the Deadlift or Barbell Back Squat, it offers incredible value for runners or anyone who wants to improve their balance and movement efficiency. Make no mistake, if you do the clock squat well, it WILL initially leave you nearly as sore as a your first ever heavy set of walking lunges.
What I've observed, though, is that most people don't possess good enough balance to access the ranges of motion that would load the muscles enough to create said soreness.
You need more than just strength to run well. You need CONTROL. Specifically, you need to be able to control your body in 3 planes of motion while on one foot.
Here's my demonstration of the clock squat. And it's different than 99% of the “clock squat” videos out there for two big reasons...
First, notice that my upper body doesn't just face straight ahead.
For example, while standing on my left foot and reaching towards 4 o'clock (0:45 on video), I open my pelvis and turn towards the clock point to which I'm reaching. In fact, I do something that would make the average movement pro cringe: I allow my foot to pronate (roll inward) which causes my knee to roll inward as well.
Full-on rant saved for another day, but just trust that we should explore this motion – as long as it's in a slow/controlled manner and the foot is flat.
Secondly, my upper body generally leans to the opposite number on the clock.
Typically folks will stick their butt out when they squat. While this is cool normally, in the clock squat we're interested in loading the muscles all around the pelvis. Sticking the butt out will only load the muscles of the back of the hips.
In order to load the muscles in the front of the hips, you'll need to do the opposite of sticking your butt out: tuck your tail, press hips forward, and lean back slightly. The farther you reach, the more exaggerated this becomes.
Doing mindless reps of clock squats won't do anything for you. Instead, the goal is to master the movement. Do this SLOWLY and make sure you are in control of every inch before attempting to reach farther.
- Is your whole foot on the ground?
- Can you do this without holding your breath?
- Which numbers do you struggle to control or 'figure out'?
Once you can maintain control, definitely challenge yourself to reach farther – but there's a fine line. In fact, there's an invisible fence around you. Inside the fence you are safe and stable. Outside the fence you wobble and have to catch yourself. The secret to the clock squat is to play on or very near to the fence, reaching out to the limit, yet not blasting through it so quickly that you have no sense for where it lies.
Happy exploring! Questions on this one? Not sure if you're doing it right? Just send me a message!
*Special acknowledgement to Gary Ward of Anatomy in Motion for the inspiration for this post.