Tom Platz Leg Workout Routine and Diet Plan for Building Crazy Legs

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Written By Jonathan Deventer

Tom Platz Leg Workout

Tom Platz, a legend in the bodybuilding world, was renowned for his unparalleled leg development. Nicknamed “The Quadfather” for a reason, his legs were a sight to behold, pushing the boundaries of what was considered achievable in terms of lower body musculature. A significant contributor to this phenomenal leg size and striation was his dedicated training approach, particularly his infamous leg workout.

This article delves into the details of the Tom Platz leg workout, exploring its philosophy, exercise selection, set/rep schemes, and the rationale behind it all. We’ll also discuss modifications for beginners and potential drawbacks to consider.

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Tom Platz Bodybuilding Career: A Legacy of Legendary Legs

Tom Platz

Tom Platz’s competitive career spanned a remarkable 14 years, from 1973 to 1987. During this time, he carved his name into bodybuilding history. Here are some of his most notable achievements:

  • 1973: Mr. Adonis and Mr. Ironman
  • 1974: Junior State Powerlifting Champion
  • 1975: Mr. Michigan
  • 1977: Mr. Southeastern USA
  • 1978: IFBB Amateur Mr. Universe (winner)
  • 1980: IFBB Pro Mr. Universe (second place) – This competition, documented in the film “The Comeback (1980),” is particularly noteworthy. While Arnold Schwarzenegger (returning from a hiatus) controversially took the title, Platz’s legendary legs began to steal the show.
  • 1981: IFBB Mr. Olympia (third place) – Many fans and experts believed Platz deserved the win this year, but his phenomenal legs were considered disproportionately large compared to his upper body by competition organizer Joe Weider.

While he never secured the coveted Mr. Olympia title, Tom Platz’s dedication, work ethic, and legendary legs left an undeniable mark on the bodybuilding world.

The Platz Philosophy: High Volume, High Intensity

Tom Platz’s leg training philosophy revolved around two key principles: high volume and high intensity.

  • High Volume: Platz believed in bombarding the leg muscles with a massive amount of work. His workouts often included a staggering number of sets (think upwards of 40!) spread across various exercises. This high-volume approach aimed to maximize muscle stimulation and growth.
  • High Intensity: While high volume was a cornerstone, Platz didn’t neglect intensity. He advocated for pushing weights close to failure on most sets, ensuring he was challenging his muscles maximally.

This philosophy resulted in a grueling, physically demanding workout designed to leave your legs begging for mercy.

The Tom Platz Leg Workout Breakdown

Here’s a breakdown of the typical Tom Platz leg workout:

Hack Squats5-710-15
Leg Extensions5-810-15
Leg Curls6-1010-15
Standing Calf Raises4-810-15
Seated Calf Raises3-810-15

Total Sets: 40-55+

Key Points:

  • Squats are King: Platz considered squats the king of leg exercises and prioritized them within the workout. He utilized a wide rep range (5-20) to target both strength and hypertrophy (muscle growth).
  • Quad Emphasis: Platz’s routine heavily emphasized quad development with exercises like squats, hack squats, and leg extensions.
  • Hamstring and Calf Work: While quads were a focus, the workout didn’t neglect hamstrings and calves with dedicated exercises like leg curls and calf raises.
  • Drop Sets and Partial Reps: Platz sometimes incorporated drop sets (reducing weight after reaching failure) and partial reps to further stress the muscles.

Note: This is a general representation of Platz’s leg workout. Variations exist, and the specific sets, reps, and exercises might have differed depending on his training phase.

Tom Platz Leg Workout Routine

Why Did It Work for Platz?

Several factors contributed to the effectiveness of the Tom Platz leg workout for him:

  • Genetic Predisposition: Let’s be honest, Platz likely had exceptional genetics for leg development. His body responded incredibly well to the high volume and intensity of his training.
  • Work Capacity: Platz possessed an insane work capacity. He could tolerate and recover from the immense workload his leg workouts demanded.
  • Experience: Over years of dedicated training, Platz had honed his mind-muscle connection, allowing him to maximize muscle engagement during each set and rep.

Is the Tom Platz Leg Workout Right for You?

While the Tom Platz leg workout undoubtedly sculpted legendary legs, it’s important to consider if it’s suitable for you. Here’s a breakdown:

Who Can Benefit:

  • Advanced Lifters: Seasoned lifters with a strong foundation and excellent recovery capabilities might find success with a modified version of the Platz workout.
  • Those Seeking Extreme Leg Growth: If your primary goal is to build massive legs and you possess the work capacity and experience, a modified Platz routine could be an option.

Who Should Consider Modifications:

  • Beginners: The sheer volume and intensity of the Platz workout would be overwhelming and potentially counterproductive for beginners. Start with a more beginner-friendly leg routine with fewer sets and exercises.
  • Those with Injuries: If you have any pre-existing injuries, particularly lower body injuries, the Platz workout is likely too demanding and could worsen your condition.

Modifications for Beginners and Intermediates

If you’re intrigued by the Platz approach but aren’t quite ready for the full-blown version, here are some modifications you can consider:

  • Reduce Sets and Reps: Instead of 8-12 sets of squats, start with 3-5 sets of 8-12 reps. Gradually increase volume as you progress.
  • Focus on Compound Movements: Prioritize exercises like squats, lunges, and leg press that target multiple muscle groups at once.
  • Incorporate Isolation Exercises: After compound movements, include isolation exercises like leg extensions and hamstring curls to target specific muscle groups.
  • Progressive Overload: Gradually increase the weight, sets, or reps over time to keep challenging your muscles and promote growth.
  • Listen to Your Body: Don’t push yourself to the point of pain or injury. Take rest days and prioritize proper form over lifting heavier weights with compromised technique.

Potential Drawbacks of the Tom Platz Leg Workout

While the Tom Platz leg workout can be effective for some, it’s not without its drawbacks:

  • Overtraining: The high volume nature of the workout can lead to overtraining, hindering progress and increasing the risk of injuries.
  • Time Commitment: Completing this workout can take a significant amount of time, which might not be feasible for everyone’s schedule.
  • Focus on Quads: The emphasis on quad development can lead to muscle imbalances if hamstring and calf training isn’t prioritized.
  • Sustainability: Maintaining such a demanding workout routine in the long term can be challenging, both physically and mentally.

Building Big Legs: Alternative Strategies

If the Tom Platz leg workout seems too intense, here are some alternative strategies to build impressive legs:

  • Focus on Compound Movements: Prioritize exercises like squats, lunges, Romanian Deadlifts, and leg press to stimulate major muscle groups for overall leg development.
  • Progressive Overload: Gradually increase the weight, sets, or reps over time to keep your workouts challenging and promote muscle growth.
  • Mind-Muscle Connection: Focus on engaging the target muscles during each exercise for optimal muscle stimulation.
  • Proper Form: Maintain proper form throughout each exercise to maximize effectiveness and minimize injury risk.
  • Balanced Training: Include exercises targeting all major muscle groups in your legs, including quads, hamstrings, and calves.
  • Rest and Recovery: Prioritize proper rest and recovery to allow your muscles to repair and rebuild.

The Tom Platz Diet: Old-School Muscle Fuel

Tom Platz Diet Plan

Platz’s diet was a far cry from the meticulously tracked macros and fancy protein shakes of today’s bodybuilding scene. His approach was refreshingly simple – eat big to get big. Think copious amounts of eggs, chicken, and beef, all consumed in a way that maximized nutrient absorption according to his beliefs.

Unlike the “skinless chicken breast” mantra of many modern diets, Platz embraced the whole bird. He believed the skin and meat closest to the bone held more nutritional value. Turkey legs, chicken legs, oxtail stew, and rib-eye steaks were staples on his menu.

Platz was also a big believer in thorough chewing, following the principles of Eugen Sandow, a pioneer in the world of physical culture. Sandow advocated for “mastication,” the idea that the more you chew your food, the better your digestion. Platz wholeheartedly agreed, believing proper chewing aided nutrient breakdown and absorption.

Here’s a glimpse into a typical day of bulking for Tom Platz:

  • Meal #1: 12 egg whites, 3 whole eggs, 4 slices of toast, 2 cups of oatmeal, 50 grams of protein powder
  • Meal #2: 12 ounces of beef steak, 2 large baked potatoes, 8 ounces of fibrous vegetables
  • Meal #3: 1 cup of almonds, 50 grams of protein powder, 1 pint of ice cream
  • Meal #4: 12 ounces of chicken (off-the-bone), 2 large baked potatoes, 8 ounces of fibrous vegetables
  • Meal #5: 12 ounces of turkey (off-the-bone), 2 servings of fruit, 8 ounces of fibrous vegetables, 1 pint of ice cream

And to wash it all down? Platz gulped down a whole gallon of milk throughout the day. You can listen to Tom Platz himself talk about his diet and training philosophy in this video:

Supplementing for Success (But Remember, It’s Not Magic)

The world of bodybuilding supplements looked quite different in Tom Platz’s era compared to today’s shelves overflowing with a dizzying array of powders, capsules, and pre-workout concoctions. Back then, things were more basic. While the exact details of Platz’s supplement regimen are unknown, he likely used some of the following:

  • Protein Powder: A staple for many lifters, protein powder provides a convenient way to boost daily protein intake, crucial for muscle growth and repair.
  • Creatine: This naturally occurring compound helps fuel muscle contractions and may enhance recovery after intense workouts. While not as widely used then as it is now, creatine was likely a part of Platz’s supplement arsenal.
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However, it’s important to remember that these supplements were just that – supplements. The true foundation of Platz’s legendary physique wasn’t magic powders, but a combination of key factors:

  • Relentless Training: Platz’s dedication to the iron was legendary. His infamous leg workout, along with his overall training program, pushed his body to the limit, demanding incredible amounts of work and recovery.
  • Dialed-in Diet: While unconventional by today’s standards, Platz’s high-calorie, protein-rich diet provided the fuel his body needed to build muscle and sustain his brutal training sessions.
  • Proper Rest and Recovery: Despite the intensity, Platz understood the importance of rest and recovery. Adequate sleep and rest days allowed his body to rebuild and repair muscle tissue, broken down during his workouts.

Supplements might have played a supporting role in Platz’s success, but they weren’t the magic bullet. They can’t compensate for a lack of hard work, proper diet, and adequate recovery.


The Tom Platz leg workout is a legendary training protocol that undoubtedly contributed to his phenomenal leg development. However, it’s essential to understand its demands and potential drawbacks before incorporating it into your routine.

For most lifters, a more moderate approach with a focus on compound movements, progressive overload, and proper form will yield excellent results in building strong and sculpted legs. Remember, consistency and proper training principles are key to achieving your lower body goals.

Additional Tips:

  • Warm up thoroughly before your leg workout to prepare your muscles for exercise.
  • Cool down and stretch after your workout to improve flexibility and reduce muscle soreness.
  • Maintain a healthy diet with sufficient protein intake to support muscle growth and recovery.
  • Track your workouts to monitor progress and adjust your training plan as needed.

By following these tips and choosing a training approach that suits your experience and goals, you can build impressive legs and take your physique to the next level.


Tom Platz Leg Workout FAQs

Here are some frequently asked questions about the Tom Platz leg workout:

  • Is the Tom Platz leg workout effective?

Yes, the Tom Platz leg workout can be incredibly effective for building massive legs, especially for those with the genetics and work capacity to handle the high volume and intensity. However, its effectiveness depends heavily on individual factors.

  • Is the Tom Platz leg workout safe?

The safety of the Tom Platz leg workout depends on your experience level and current fitness. For beginners or those with injuries, it can be quite risky and lead to overtraining or injury.

  • Can I modify the Tom Platz leg workout?

Absolutely! The provided information on modifications for beginners and intermediates offers a good starting point. You can adjust sets, reps, exercises, and rest periods to create a program suitable for your experience level.

  • What are some alternatives to the Tom Platz leg workout?

There are many effective alternatives to the Platz workout. These include focusing on compound movements like squats, lunges, and Romanian Deadlifts, prioritizing progressive overload, and ensuring proper form and a balanced training approach for all major leg muscle groups.