The Ultimate Tom Platz Leg Workout

Bodybuilding

The workout that made him the “Quadfather” 

When you think of some of the greatest legs in bodybuilding, it is no doubt that legendary bodybuilder Tom Platz comes to mind, even in his older age, he still dons a set of shredded legs. The Golden Era Bodybuilder is a man who truly believed in taking your sets until failure, and while some say this was nothing but junk volume, Platz had – and still has a fantastic set of legs. Tom Platz’s leg workout is an infamous one, and you can find clips of it on YouTube, but we wanted to break it down for you. 

Who is Tom Platz?

Tom Platz Interview Generation Iron

Full Name: Tom Platz

Weight Height Date Of Birth
225-235 lbs 5’8″ 1955
Division Era Nationality
Bodybuilding 1970, 1980 American

Tom Platz, who also goes by the names “The Golden Eagle” and “The Quadfather”, was a 70s and 80s era bodybuilder. He even stepped on the Mr. Olympia stage from 1979 to 1986, even competing against Arnold Schwarzenegger in 1980, although his highest ranking was a third place finish in 1981. Platz’s bodybuilding career is still remembered and celebrated by fans of the sport.

Standing at 5’7” tall, Platz reportedly weighed between 225 and 235 lbs in his prime, with his legs being more than 30 inches round. This is where many people say his downfall of the Olympia was, because Platz was far more bottom heavy than top heavy, lacking symmetry.

So, how did he get his legs to the point they were? 

Tom Platz Leg Workout

Well, here is what you came for, the workout Tom Platz did to build up those wheels: 

Exercise Sets Reps
Squats 8-12 5-50
Hack squat 5 10-15
Leg extension 5-8 10-15
Lying hamstring curl 6-10 10-15
Standing calf raise 3-4 10-15
Seated calf raise 3-4 10-15

Now that you have seen the workout, let’s break each piece down.

Squats

Now many of you may think that a standard 5 x 5 program or sets of 8-12 are the way to go when it comes to squats. While those are effective, Tom Platz would take his squats to failure, which is an effective way to build muscle. He is one of the biggest supporters of squats on this planet. His form was impeccable and clearly they worked for him.

But Platz didn’t just put the bar on his back and go through the motions. He felt the mind muscle connection with every rep, and you can see in his pictures and videos that he squats with a full range of motion and good form, going as low as he can. The deeper the squat, the more of the stretch on the legs as a whole, recruiting more muscle fibers.

Not to mention, Platz performs high bar squats instead of low bar squats. This where the barbell sits higher on his shoulders, and enables him to keep a more upright back and achieve greater quad activation, as opposed to low bar squats where it will recruit more of the glutes and hamstrings, either way improving his physique.

It is also worth mentioning, Platz does not just do a simple program with his squatting. Instead, he would perform a huge number of squat sets with various rep ranges including a lot of high-volume training, which really shocks the muscle. Lower rep ranges with heavier weight help him build strength, while higher rep ranges fatigue every fiber and stimulate growth.

Keep in mind that his high-rep sets were not just lightweight, they were still heavy and he was taking them to failure. 

Hack Squats 

The next exercise in Tom Platz’s leg workout is hack squats, which is essentially an inverted leg press where the sled is on your shoulders, which somewhat mimics the high bar squat technique, where your back stays more upright. The hack squat puts a lot of stress on the knees and using quality knee sleeves will enhance compression and support

To further isolate and put an emphasis on the quads, Platz utilizes a low foot placement and close stance, mimicking that of sissy squat placement. And he targets 10-15 reps on this exercise, which is ultimately to failure.

Leg Extensions

Third on the list of Tom Platz’s leg day exercises are the leg extensions. This is an isolation exercise, which means it focuses on a specific muscle group, in this case it is your quads. The leg extension forces your quads to work without any assistance from the hamstrings or glutes.

With 5-8 sets of 10-15 reps, you might need help getting off the leg extension machine, as these 10-15 reps should be pushing past failure and causing muscle fatigue.. These are not just 10-15 easy reps, but you should be barely getting those last few reps. Tom would even push beyond failure, doing partials after failing on his full reps.

Lying Hamstring Curl

The lying hamstring curl is a favorite of Tom Platz, and is the main thing he did for hamstrings, but he does not treat it any differently than the other movements. He treats it with the same intensity as he does with the other movements, going heavy within that 10-15/failure rep range, then pushing beyond that, all within 6-10 sets.

Standing Calf Raises

When it comes to the calves, Tom Platz would start with standing calf raises to get a nice, full stretch, and develop the upper part of the calves. Platz does 3-4 sets of 10-15 reps each, making sure he is really stretching the muscle.

Seated Calf Raises

The last exercise of Tom Platz’s leg day is the seated calf raise, for the underlying muscle in the calves. Like the standing calf raise, Platz performs 3-4 sets of 10-15 reps.

Is Tom Platz’s Leg Day Junk Volume? 

Now, many people will say that Tom Platz’s leg day had consisted of a lot of junk volume and that no one can complete it without steroids. However, Platz has come out about his steroid cycle, and it was very minimal, especially compared to a lot of bodybuilders today. Also, Tom Platz had only trained legs once per week, so there was a full seven days to rest and recover in between the training sessions, which helped enable him to go all out when it came to training his lower half. 

This leads to the conclusion that maybe it was not junk volume.

Platz’s Leg Training Tips

There are a few things that Tom Platz has advised when it comes to training legs that are certainly worth addressing. 

You HAVE to Squat

Like we said, Platz is a huge advocate of the squat. He has said that it is a staple for building big legs, and movements like the leg press are not nearly as optimal.

Use High Volume

With taking everything to failure, Platz was doing a lot of reps within his sets. 5 x 5 programs were not his thing, but instead he took each movement until he could not go anymore.

You Have to Achieve Failure

It is obvious that he was an advocate for taking his reps to failure, but he really pushes you to break out of your comfort zone to the point where you do not know if you will be completing the rep or not. When you are out of your comfort zone, that is when you grow. 

Tom Platz Leg Workout Wrap Up

Overall, many people will look at Tom Platz and say that those legs were mostly steroids and genetics. However, if you really look at the work he put into it, that is where his growth and success came from. 

Will you be trying Tom Platz’s leg day?

Let us know what you think in the comments below. Also, be sure to follow Generation Iron on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. 

Dylan Wolf
I work mainly in content writing, focusing my free time on bodybuilding and strength sports. I was introduced to fitness in high school and after watching Generation Iron movies. I love to train. I have competed multiple times, even winning a junior title in classic physique. I have a bachelor's in criminal justice and business obtained through Alvernia University. When I am not focused on work or training, I enjoy watching films or reading about anything and everything.