The Tom Platz Leg Workout | Tom Platz Leg Routine

The Tom Platz Leg Workout

It is largely agreed that in his heyday Tom Platz had the best leg development the world has ever seen.

Although his highest placing at the My Olympia was a mere 3rd in 1981, he legs were unquestionably in a league of their own.

In an era where the aesthetic v-shape physiques of Schwarzenegger and Zane ruled the roost, Platz’s monstrous legs were way ahead of their time.

And, although some might disagree, in my book Platz’s formidable legs far surpass the freakish trunks of Big Ron, Phil Heath and Jay Cutler.

This opinion was validated in a recent poll in Flex magazine, where readers agreed Platz had the best quad and hamstring development of all time.

Tom Platz legs

Indeed, Platz’s legs were so huge that, on one occasion, while out grocery shopping, he was mistaken for an old Japanese tree, and their striation was such that they looked as if they have been painted by the brushstrokes of Matisse.

Ultimately for squat lovers like myself Platz is a god.

So, come, join me at the squat rack altar as we offer up a sacrifice (that tosser who hogs the racks for curls) and draw inspiration and strength from the mighty one’s teachings…

Training philosophy

So, what was the secret behind Platz’s thunderous leg development?

Unsurprisingly, it was squatting, and a hell of a lot of it.

We’re talking high-intensity, high-volume, high-chance-of-vomiting squats here.

Platz’s relentless work ethic at the squat rack was legendary.

He was a man who got off on feeling totally spent after each set.

If he didn’t end each set writhing around on the floor like an upturned beetle, he hadn’t gone hard enough.

For example, this is how he described the feeling of finishing a set of high-rep squats:

My heart rate soared upward and I found myself gasping for air.

In a way, that sensation frightened me.

I would fall to the floor, place the magical towel over my eyes, and ask myself, what if my heart does not slow down.

I saw stars.

My legs felt as if someone was stabbing knives into them.

On many occasions Platz would squat for 10 minutes straight, busting out over 100 reps of 225 pounds (you’ll be relieved to know this is not the workout we’re going into today).

If you’re struggling to believe the veracity of this squatting carnage, just take a butchers at this video from 1992 where Platz squats 495 pounds for 23 reps!

Note the form – stricter than a Catholic schoolmaster!

The workout

Like all of Platz’s workouts, this one comprises some serious soul-destroying volume.

Sick buckets at the ready, we’re about to get hardcore…

Exercise Sets Reps
Back Squats 8-12 5-20
Hack Squats 5 10-15
Leg Extension 5-8 10-15
Leg Curls 6-10 10-15
Standing Calf Raises 3-4 10-15
Seated Calf Raises 3-4 10-15
Hack Machine Calf Raises 3-4 10-15



Ensure you warm up thoroughly before attempting this workout with stretching and mobility.

Platz liked to perform a series of bodyweight squats before he even set foot in the gym.


Keep your form as strict as possible and ensure you are going below parallel on each rep to maximise gains.

Counting reps

Platz preferred to count his reps in sets of five as for him this was easier psychologically.


Attack every set with everything you have, Platz-style!

Tom Platz legs


The intensity and volume of this workout may seem extreme when compared with the popular training protocols of today.

With this particular routine, for example, you’re going to be performing between 33-47 sets a session.

As such, this is very much an advanced workout.

However, it can be adapted.

For example, you could quite easily cut the volume in half to make it more achievable.

Although, if you do modify this routine, make sure you still uphold the mantra of all-out hard work.

Ultimately, if you want huge legs you’re going to have to go through hell and back at the squat rack, over and over again.

Indeed, high rep squatting was the weapon of choice for the old-school natural bodybuilders such as John Grimek and Reg Park, who used this methodology to build their colossal, world-beating physiques before steroids entered the equation.

After all, as Platz himself said, “when you are uncomfortable is when you will grow!”


Over to you

What are your thoughts on this Tom Platz leg workout?

Fancy giving it a go?

Is the volume simply too much?

Think there’s someone with better legs than Platz?

I look forward to hearing your comments below!

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  1. Errr you didn’t mention steroids.

    His routine is designed for somebody on gear and it’s completely pointless to recommend it as a go-to leg workout.

    1. Hi Phil

      I never recommended this as a go-to leg workout – more an advanced routine that can be modified while sticking to the principles of high-volume leg work, a protocol which is tried and tested.

      I shared it because it’s fascinating to see the kind of workouts that Platz performed – a man who, let’s face it, would be a worldbeater with or without the gear.

    2. Errr, the typical fag response from what is more than likely a retarded faggot

    3. 45 sets for any given workout isn’t that far fetched for someone with a clean diet, plenty of rest, and about 10g of creatine a day.

      I’ve gone for months like that.

  2. Looking at that workout makes me feel like such a pussy.

    Still though, I am slightly more excited about legs tomorrow than I was before I read this article.

    I’ll just have to pretend I didn’t see the actual workout though haha.

    1. Haha, I know what you mean John.

      This routine makes the majority of leg workouts look like a leisurely jaunt around the block!

      Platz was an incredible athlete.

  3. Tom Platz is a legend.

    Henry you are exactly right that this workout is insane, however people would be surprised at what the body is capable of achieving assuming the trainee has the time and resources (mainly food) to apply to the goal at hand.

    High volume squatting can be a killer on the body, but then again so can high intensity.

    For example the world’s strongest man Paul Anderson (from my hometown of Toccoa Georgia) was able to squat 900 lbs for 10 rep sets.

    To this day he is known as the King Of Squat.

    He is arguably the strongest man to ever walk the face of the planet and he was just pure all out country strong.

    He lived a clean life and believe it or not didn’t use steroids.

    As a matter of fact he couldn’t because he suffered from a rare kidney disease called Brights Disease that would end up taking him later in life.

    So even though this squat routine is insanely tough the body, or should I say some bodies, still have the ability to adapt.

    Great post Henry!

    Platz is a legend in squatting for sure.

    1. Hi Brandon, thanks for the comment!

      Never actually heard of Paul Anderson before – I will have to check him out!

  4. That workout has insane volume, the basis of it is good though – for a natural I’d drop the reps of squats to 3 – 5 (more strength based) and decrease each accessory exercise by a set or 2 while maintaining the slightly higher rep range.

    Just my 2 cents if you want to give this a workout a try (and get results).


    1. Hi SJ – thanks for dropping by.

      I totally agree with your comments – this routine provides an excellent foundation which can be modified for lesser able athletes than Platz.

      Which, let’s face it, is pretty much all of us!

    2. For muscle building dropping the reps to 3-5 is one of the most ignorant things I have ever read.

      “Natural” has nothing to do with it, that reps range doesn’t build size.

      1. A ridiculous comment, I have used the 3-5 rep range for years, easily one of the most effective ways build muscle and strength.

    3. Your ideas about training tend to border on the side of someone who should have a thigh-master between his legs.

      Grow a set and then grow another set and try to tackle half of the style of work-out that Platz did.

      Stop being a wuss

  5. Love that video of Tom Platz going for 23 reps on the 500 lb squat.

    That was a squat-off competition he had against Dr. Squat – Fred Hatfield.

    Dr. Squat won on max weight, but he couldn’t come close to the number of reps Platz could pump out.

    You can listen to an interview about it on the Iron Radio Podcast #213.

    1. Hi, thanks for the heads up about Iron Radio, that was a great listen!

      For anyone else that might be interested, you can check it out here:

  6. Awesome information and always insanely motivational.

    Platz may only have made 3rd place by IFBB Olympia standards, but his legacy lives on forever.

    He’s the reason I respect and love leg day so much

    1. Hi Kerry, totally agree!

      Nothing gets me in the mood for leg day more than some Platz videos:

  7. Great HARD CORE article.

    Tom Platz’s legs were years ahead of his time.

    Ass to the ground squats, no bands no b.s.


    1. Thanks for the comment – glad you enjoyed it!

  8. Hey bro, funny to find you wrote this cause we added each other on G+ recently.

    And we have similar last names I wonder if we are distantly related or some shit.

    1. Haha, quite possibly!

  9. I used a Platz routine when I started and was natural.

    My thighs grew 5 inches each in the first 6 months.

  10. You mentioned Reg Park as a natural Bodybuilder?

    When he is the size of Arnold and as we all know was and has taken multiple forms of steroids.

  11. Tom will always be revered as the Quadfather; from his prime well into his…..

  12. Excellent article on tom platz

  13. In the first pic, the right picture of hams is not Platz, get your shit right.