You’d be hard-pressed to find a better lower-body workout than squats. As a weight room staple, squats have been helping women develop killer quads and glutes for decades. With a number of variations, proper squat form can differ from exercise to exercise, but by learning the best foot and toe position, you can squat and lift your way to fantastic results.
Basic Squat Position
When it comes to basic squats performed either with a barbell or set of dumbbells, placing your feet and toes in the right position can help you get better results and protect you from injuring your knees, tendons, back and lower-body muscles. Your feet should be shoulder-width apart and your toes pointed slightly outward. This basic position helps you focus on overall development and gives you a good base for the move.
Sumo and Plie Squats
By widening your stance and altering the move, you can switch up the squat to work different muscles. Both sumo and plie squats use wider-than-hip-width stances to work your inner thighs more than you do in a normal squat. Your toes are again pointed slightly outward to give you a good base, and instead of trying to point your legs forward, you let them follow the direction of the toes and bend outward.
Ski squats are a fancy way of saying “wall sits.” If you’ve ever sat in a chair position against a wall until your quads screamed, you’ve done a ski squat. For these convenient moves, which require nothing more than an available wall, you place your feet about 2 feet in front of a wall hip-width apart with your toes facing forward. Lean your back against the wall and slide down until your thighs are parallel to the floor, keeping your feet and toes in the same position. Hold for a designated period of time (or until you think your quads will explode) before returning to a standing position.
One squat version that takes a completely different foot stance is the one-legged squat. Your feet and toes start in a neutral stance with the rest of your body, but as you squat, one leg is raised off the ground, leaving the responsibility of the move to your planted leg. Your toes and feet stay facing forward as you lift and lower your body and work both your lower body and core by maintaining your balance.
After graduating from the University of Kansas with a bachelor's degree in sports information, Jill Lee served for 10 years as a magazine editor for the Fellowship of Christian Athletes (FCA). Also a published author, Lee now works as a professional writer and editor focusing on fitness, sports and careers.