The Tom Platz Leg Workout: Building Legendary Legs

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When people talk about leg development, one of the first names that pops up is Tom Platz. He is famously known as “Quadzilla” because of his astonishingly developed leg muscles and insane leg workout routine.

Despite never really being at the top of his sport, Tom saw some notable success and became widely popular for his intense leg training. For those who are dedicated enough and maybe a little crazy, I’ll use this article to break down Tom Platz’s leg workout, exploring its benefits, exercises, and frequently asked questions.

Table of Contents

  • Tom Platz’s Leg Workout
  • Who is Tom Platz (Quadzilla)?
  • Benefits of Tom Platz’s Leg Workout
  • Frequently Asked Questions
  • Final Thoughts

Tom Platz’s Leg Workout

If you want to have the best lower body, you have to train like the monster Tom Platz is. This comprehensive workout will work every muscle in the legs to grow them.

It is worth mentioning that even if you did this workout every leg day, you may not still see the same results that Tom Platz saw. There are other things to consider, like genetics, lifestyle, nutrition, and other contributing factors.

With your expectations more realistic, let’s break down the workout.

  • Back Squat: 8-12 sets x 5-20 reps
  • Hack Squat: 5 sets x 10-15 reps
  • Leg Extension: 5-8 sets x 10-15 reps
  • Leg Curl: 6-10 sets x 10-15 reps
  • Standing Calf Raise: 3-4 sets x 10-15 reps
  • Seated Calf Raise: 3-4 sets x 10-15 reps

tom platz leg day

1. Back Squats

When it comes to compound movements, back squats are among the best for building overall strength and improving muscle engagement. They allow for heavier loads, build quads and glutes, and strengthen stabilizer muscles.

The great thing about back squats is that you can change the emphasis on which muscles are being focused by changing your stance and foot placement.

Tom Platz is a massive advocate for ashoulder-widthstance, with knees above the toes.¹ This allows for an increased range of motion and really activates the quads.

Step-by-Step Guide:

  1. Set up a barbell in a squat rack at or just below shoulder height and load it with an appropriate weight that challenges you but doesn’t cause you to break form.
  2. Stand under the bar, feet shoulder-width apart, and grip the bar with both hands a bit wider than shoulder-width.
  3. Lift the bar from the rack and take a couple steps back to ensure you have space.
  4. Keeping your chest up and tightening the core, lower your body by bending your knees and at the hips; imagine you’re sitting back in a chair.
  5. To squat like Tom Platz, you will squat down to the very bottom, also known as ass to grass. If you can’t, go down until your thighs are parallel to the ground or even slightly lower. Try not to let your knees push past your toes.
  6. Pause at the bottom briefly and then push through your heels to return to the starting position, fully extending your hips and knees.

tom platz squat

2. Hack Squats

Machine hack squats are an incredible exercise for torching the legs without worrying about stabilizing your upper body. In fact, Tom has beenquotedas saying, “Hack squats are all you need.”²

Hack squats make moving more weight at a higher volume easier and use foot positions you wouldn’t usually use with free weights. Tom would put his heels together like a duck, which puts more of the emphasis on the Vastus Lateralis, aka teardrop muscle.

Step-by-Step Guide:

  1. Position yourself in a hack squat machine, placing your shoulders under the pads, and your heels together pointed out like a duck.
  2. Unlock the machine and slowly lower the platform by bending your knees; make sure to keep your chest up and back straight.
  3. To get those Tom Platz quads, you will want to go down as low as possible, maintaining control throughout the movement.
  4. Push through your heels to begin straightening your legs and return to the starting position, avoiding locking out your knees at the top.


3. Leg Extension

Unlike compound movements that work multiple muscle groups, a leg extension machine helps you isolate the quads, leading to larger, chiseled muscles. Tom Platzstartshis leg extensions by going lighter but using more higher reps until failure.³

As you add more weight, focus on kicking high and fully contracting the quad muscles, keeping the tension the whole time.

Step-by-Step Guide:

  1. Sit on a leg extension machine with your back flat against the backrest and your feet hooked under the padded bar.
  2. Adjust the machine so the padded bar rests comfortably against your lower legs close to your ankles.
  3. Grab the handles on both sides of the seat for stability, brace your core, and make sure your toes are pointing in the same direction.
  4. Extend your legs by straightening your knees and lifting the weight until your legs are fully extended.
  • Tom says to overexaggerate this part and try to kick even higher.
  • Hold the contraction briefly, then lower the weight to the starting position.
  • 4. Leg Curls

    Hamstring curls, especially the laying down version, are incredibly effective at isolating the hamstrings, especially the sartorius. Shockingly, Tom doesn’t really focus a lot on hamstring training.

    Initially, he started with a lighter weight, going slowly and getting a full contraction. Eventually, he worked intoforced repsfor the last couple of sets, which means that you train them until failure and then get your workout partner to help lift the weight.

    Like quad extensions, foot placement plays an important role in hamstring development.

    Step-by-Step Guide:

    1. Lie down on the leg curl machine with your knees slightly off the edge of the bench and the padded bar against the back of your legs, closer to your ankles.
    2. Grasp the handles for stability and brace your core.
    3. Bend your knees to curl the weight towards your glutes, contracting your hamstrings.

    • In the above video, Tom kicks it back so hard that the pad hits his hamstrings.
  • Hold the contraction briefly, then slowly lower the weight to the starting position.

    • If you have a partner, do the last couple of sets with forced reps.

    platz leg workout

    5. Standing Calf Raises

    Standing calf raises work your gastrocnemius and soleus, which are the upper and lower calf muscles. To get the most out of this exercise, go heavy and get a good stretch in the calves between sets.

    Tomsayshe had the most success training his calves twice weekly at the end of the workout. Slowly and progressively, he would increase the weight, with his goal just to hold the weight in the middle position.

    Step-by-Step Guide:

    1. Stand upright on a calf raise machine or a raised platform with your shoulders back, and core engaged.
    2. Place the balls of your feet on the platform’s edge, allowing your heels to hang off.
    3. Hold onto the handles to help with balance and stability.
    4. Rise onto your toes by extending your ankles as high as possible.
    5. Hold the contraction briefly at the top, then lower your heels below the platform’s level.

    • Once per week, gradually increase the weight and just hold in the middle position to work the calves like Tom Platz.

    tom platz legs

    6. Seated Calf Raises

    Depending on foot placement, the seated calf raises target more of the soleus’s development. Just like the standing calf raises, Tom had the best success building the weight slowly and progressively, with the goal of holding the weight in the middle position.

    Focusing on a strong contraction at the top of each rep will still lead to significant gains for most people.

    Step-by-Step Guide:

    1. Sit on a calf raise machine with your feet flat on the platform and your knees bent at a 90-degree angle.

    • Make sure your feet are pointed in the same direction, as the angle of your feet can change the focus of the muscles targeted.
  • Push through the balls of your feet to raise the weight by extending your ankles as high as possible.
  • Hold the contraction briefly, then slowly lower the weight to the starting position.

    • Once per week, gradually increase the weight and just hold in the middle position to work the calves like Tom Platz.

    tom platz quadriceps

    Who is Tom Platz (Quadzilla)?

    Thomas Steven Platz, often referred to as “The Quadfather or Golden Eagle,” during his heyday left a mark on the bodybuilding world during the 1980s. As an IFBB professional, he took the stage in seven Mr. Olympia competitions, achieving a respectable third-place finish in 1981.

    He also claimed the prestigious title of Mr. Universe in 1980. Despite his popularity among fans and notable successes, Platz never quite reached the top of the sport.

    Most people attribute his failure to do so to the fact that while he had an incredible physique, his lower body was much bigger than his upper body. His legacy lies in his legendary dedication and near insanity to training his legs, earning him a reputation as one of the most iconic figures in bodybuilding history.

    Unlike many of his competitors, Tom Platz is still involved in bodybuilding and is a highly sought-after coach. So, despite being in his late 60s, Tom continues to train regularly, and his legs would still put most people to shame.

    tom platz now

    Benefits of Tom Platz’s Leg Workout

    1. Comprehensive Leg Development

    Platz’s workout targets all the major muscle groups in the legs, ensuring balanced and proportionate growth. By starting with back squats, a compound lift, you target multiple muscle groups, like quads, glutes, hamstring, and calves, while having higher energy levels and more focus.

    As you tire, you switch to isolation movements at high volumes to target specific muscle groups and reduce the risk of injury.

    2. Increased Strength and Muscle Definition

    Platz’s routine builds functional strength and muscle size by incorporating compound movements like squats and hack squats and having a varying rep range. The wide rep range targets the muscle groups and fibers differently, making your muscles more well-rounded while leading to significant strength gains.

    Isolation exercises such as leg extensions and leg curls help carve out detailed muscle definition, which can significantly improve the aesthetics of the legs.

    tom platz legs workout

    Frequently Asked Questions

    How big were Tom Platz’s legs?

    As you have learned throughout this article, Tom Platz’s leg size was legendary in bodybuilding. During his prime, his thighs reportedly measured around 32 inches in circumference.

    Tom Platz had an incredible physique, but his massive legs were the defining feature of his physique, earning him the nickname “Quadzilla” and making him the guy people talk about as one of the greatest leg trainers in bodybuilding history.

    How often did Tom Platz train legs?

    Platz trained his legs twice a week, a workout regimen that some may consider extreme, even among professional bodybuilders. This dedication to leg training was unparalleled, and he often pushed himself to the limit in the pursuit of perfection in his lower body development.

    For most people, I would recommend starting with one leg workout per week, and as your recovery improves, start implementing another leg day every week.

    Did Tom Platz win any Mr. Olympias?

    Unfortunately, no. Tom Platz competed in several Mr. Olympia competitions throughout the 1980s, with his highest placement being third in 1981. Proportions are considered an important part of bodybuilding, and while his physique was incredible, many considered his proportions to be off.

    Making it difficult for Tom ever to have a chance of placing higher than third. Despite not securing the top spot, Platz’s influence and legacy endure, inspiring generations of bodybuilders to strive for greatness in leg training.

    How can you modify the Tom Platz Workout?

    A leg workout like this can be daunting and probably too much to handle if you’re a beginner.You can modify the Tom Platz leg workout to suit your needs by adjusting weights and reps, varying which leg exercises you use, changing training frequency, incorporating supersets or circuits, adding plyometric or stability exercises, and utilizing tempo variations.

    Final Thoughts

    Beyond his physical achievements, Tom Platz’s legacy doesn’t stop at what he did on stage. He is an incredible influence as a motivator, teacher, and icon of what leg development can look like when you push yourself to the limit. Whether you’re a seasoned competitor or a novice gym-goer, incorporating elements of Tom Platz’s leg workouts into your training regimen can lead to greater gains and a deeper appreciation for bodybuilding.

    If you want to increase your muscle mass and overall physique, check outthis articleabout the man, myth, and legend Arnold Schwarzenegger.


    1. “Tom Platz Squat Technique Explained: 60-Second Guide to Legendary Quads #Shorts #Gym.”,
    2. “TikTok – Make Your Day.”,
    3. “Tom Platz Muscle Camp Legs.”,
    4. “TikTok – Make Your Day.”,

    (All image credit to Tom Platz and original owners)

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