Q: There are conflicting views at my gym between the trainers on whether the toes should be turned out or straight ahead during a squat. What is your view on this topic?
A: Many Coaches and trainers say that during loaded squats it is best to have the toes turned out 7-15 degrees. I completely agree with this. One will get more glute activity with some slight external rotation. Not to mention, it is much more comfortable for most.
"Toes out is okay.......just put on some bigger britches than the Tom Selleck look-a-like"
One thing you must realize is that there is a difference between training the squat and testing the squat. I think this is where some of the confusion between trainers stems from. When I have an athlete or client first come in, I run them through a Functional Movement Screen. The first test in the FMS is a squat pattern. During the test we ask the athlete to maintain a toes forward position throughout the movement. This is so that we can began from a neutral position for scoring purposes. We are looking to see if the athlete can "prevent" external rotation, pronation, valgus, etc. If they can prove that they are able to prevent these compensations, then they are cleared to began "training" the squat.
So, my view is that we test the squat (unloaded) with the toes forward and we train the squat (loaded) with the toes slightly out.