T Nation

Foot Position on Squats


I'm currently reading through the NASM Personal Training Manual. While I'm an avid tmuscle reader and enthusiast for all sorts of athletic training, my university background is in history, rather than kin or anything like that.

In the section on flexibility, external rotation of the feet while performing squats is mentioned as something bad:

"For example, externally rotating the feet when squatting forces the tibia and femur to also externally rotate.This alters length-tension relationships of the muscles at the knee and hips, putting the gluteus maximus (agonist) in a shortened position and decreasing its ability to generate force.This causes the bicep femoris and piriformis (synergists) to become synergistically dominant, altering force-couple relationships (recruitment patterns), altering arthrokinematics (joint motion) and increasing stress to the knees and low back. Over time, this stress can lead to pain which can further alter muscle recruitment and joint mechanics."

I'd always been under the impression that the feet should be somewhat externally rotated, so as to track in the same line as the knees. Is NASM the same type of people that don't want you to squat below parallel? I'm hoping someone more well-versed in all this could throw me a bone.


Anyone who knows how to squat heavy will have their toes pointed out to a certain degree. I could only see torsion increasing on the knee joint if you didn't do this, which goes against that manual regarding joint pain. To keep your glutes as the agonistic muscle just make sure you break at the hip first, and not the knees. Sit back and push through your heels.


thanks, that's what i was thinking.

after browsing through a bit more and seeing their description of adequate squat depth as "descend to the three-quarter position", i've realized they have a drastically different outlook on squat form than myself and most of tmuscle.


Have you ever looked at Rippetoe's stuff on squating? I squat just like he instructs, but I'm a newb so who knows if I'm doing it correctly. His instructions say to "externally rotate" the feet to be in line with the legs as mentioned above.

Do a youtube search for "Rippetoe squat" and there are a couple of videos of him instructing kids on how to properly squat. Then it is just a matter of whether you think that crazy Texan should be listened to or not lol! The more I watch and read Rippetoe, the more I like him!



ya, i've been squatting with my feet slightly externally rotated for several years. to get adequate depth, it seems impossible to do it otherwise.

i guess NASM uses the same info that most people i know who took kin use, because they all squat like twinks.


Toes should be pointed slightly out. How much out is going to be an issue of comfort. I point my toes out about 45 degrees when I'm doing front squats. Others will opt for less or more.