Tom Platz’s Legendary Legs

Training Philosophies & Leg Workouts He Used to Build Massive Legs

By: Jeremy Fox, CNC, CPTPublished: January 16, 2023

Tom Platz is a bodybuilding legend known for his incredible legs. And he even commands respect among powerlifters and Olympic lifters for his strength, work ethic, and perfect form.

In this article, you’ll learn everything there is to know about Tom Platz’s legs. From his leg size and strength to his leg workout philosophies and routine.

Tom Platz Legs Cover

Who Is Tom Platz?

Thomas Steven Platz is an American bodybuilder that competed in the 70s and 80s and was famous for his incredible leg development. His massive thighs earned him the nickname The Quadfather.

Platz competed in the Mr. Olympia contest from 1979 to 1986, even facing off against Arnold Schwarzenegger in 1980. However, his best performance was a 3rd-place finish in 1981.

View this post on Instagram

A post shared by Tom Platz (@tomplatz)

Tom Platz Leg Size, Height, and Weight

During his bodybuilding career, Tom Platz reportedly weighed 225-235 lbs. At a height of 5’7”, that’s a lot of muscle mass.

Tom Platz claims that his legs measured more than 30 inches around in his prime. To put that in perspective, some men have a 30-inch waist!

Table 1. Tom Platz Height, Weight, Leg Measurement

Date of Birth June 26th, 1955
Height 5’7″ (170 cm)
Weight 225-235 lbs (102-106 kg)
Leg Circumference 30″ (76 cm)

With this massive leg development, Platz was more bottom-heavy than other bodybuilders. And some have even said that his legs were too big compared to his upper body to win the Olympia.

But when confronted with this, Platz said he wouldn’t change a thing. For him, bodybuilding is a form of self-expression, not just about pleasing the judges.

View this post on Instagram

A post shared by Tom Platz (@tomplatz)

How Did Tom Platz’s Legs Get So Big?

Before you hit the gym with hopes of replicating Tom Platz’s legs, it’s vital to understand how his legs got so big.

First, Platz started working out consistently from the age of 15. So he had years to grow and build his leg mass.

Also, Platz has excellent genetics for building muscle, particularly in his lower body. And your body type might not be as conducive to growth.

Find Your Body Type with This Short Quiz

Finally, Platz pushed himself further than most humans are willing to go in the gym. Even other professional bodybuilders and strength athletes don’t approach leg day with the same intensity as Platz.

Tom Platz Legs Quads

Tom Platz Leg Day Philosophy

After his bodybuilding career, Platz began coaching others and sharing his leg training principles. So I’ve compiled a short list of Tom Platz’s top 3 leg workout tips.

1. You Have to Squat

According to Platz, the traditional barbell squat is a mandatory part of building big legs and reaching your bodybuilding potential.

He argues that squats are superior to the leg press because they’re harder, and the hardest things are usually the best.

Related: Leg Press vs. Squat Muscle Activation

2. Use High Volume

Tom Platz was incredibly strong with a squat 1RM of 765 lbs, which is world-class at his body weight. But his real superpower was squatting for reps.

In a 1993 video, Platz squats 525 lbs for a mind-bending 23 repetitions with perfect form. A world record that still stands today.

Moreover, Platz attributes his leg growth to regularly performing heavy squats for 20 to 50 reps. This combination of workout intensity and volume is outside the comfort zone for any lifter.

3. Be Uncomfortable

And that brings us to Tom Platz’s final leg workout mantra, be uncomfortable. Because he wisely states that when you’re uncomfortable is when you grow.

And for Platz, being uncomfortable doesn’t mean working until you get tired. His version of failure is falling to the floor after a set of squats!

Platz defines getting out of the comfort zone as heart-pounding, sweat-drenched leg workouts. After a set, he says, “it should be hard to breathe, you can’t talk, and everything hurts.”

And Platz goes on to describe how squatting for sets of 50 reps feels. “At 25 reps, I was done. At 35 I can’t believe I did 35. At 45, God was doing it for me. At 50, I was just in a different world.”

Tom Platz Leg Workout

Next, let’s get into the actual exercises, sets, and reps that Tom Platz used to reach Quadzilla status.

But first, a word of warning. Do not attempt this workout if you’re a beginner, or you might cause too much damage to your muscles, nervous system, and recovery.

Even advanced lifters should build up to this leg day massacre.

Tom Platz Leg Day

  • Squats – 8-12 sets, 5-50 reps
  • Hack Squat – 5 sets, 10-15 reps
  • Leg Extension – 5-8 sets, 10-15 reps
  • Lying Leg Curl – 6-10 sets, 10-15 reps
  • Standing Calf Raises – 3-4 sets, 10-15 reps
  • Seated Calf Raises – 3-4 sets, 10-15 reps


As you now know, Tom Platz is arguably the strongest proponent of squats you’ll ever find. And he was also one of the most proficient and prolific squatters of all time.

But Platz didn’t just put the bar on his back and blindly force out reps. Instead, he honed his technique and form over decades of lifting.

In his pictures and videos, you’ll notice that Platz squats with a full range of motion, also called ass-to-grass (ATG) squats. This makes the exercise harder and recruits as many muscle fibers as possible.

In addition, Platz performs high bar squats where the barbell sits higher on his shoulders. This technique enables him to keep a more upright back and achieve greater quad activation.

Related: High Bar vs. Low Bar Squat Techniques

Tom Platz Legs Squat Workout

Lastly, Platz does a huge number of squat sets with various rep ranges. Lower rep sets help him build strength, while higher reps fatigue every fiber and stimulate growth.

It’s important to remember that this isn’t lightweight high-rep squatting for muscle endurance. Instead, you should go heavy and do as many reps as possible with good form.

Common Question: Are Squats Cardio or Strength?

Hack Squat

The second exercise in Tom Platz’s leg workout is hack squats. If you’re unfamiliar with this exercise, it’s essentially an inverted leg press where the sled is on your shoulders.

Moreover, this leg machine replicates the high bar squat technique, where your back stays more upright. And that body position results in more significant knee bend and quad activation.

In addition, Platz uses a low foot placement and close stance to isolate his quads further. And he targets 10-15 reps to beat his legs into submission (assuming they’re not already dead after squats).

Related: 15 Hack Squat Alternatives Without a Machine

Tom Platz Leg Day Hack Squats

Leg Extension

Next up are leg extensions. This isolation exercise forces your quads to work without assistance from the hamstrings or glutes.

With 5-8 sets of 10-15 reps, you might need help getting off the leg extension machine. But that is the final quad-focused exercise.

Related: Leg Extension Alternatives at Home

As with other exercises, Platz recommends going to failure and beyond. Also, ensure you use the full range of motion and control the weight on every rep.

Tom Platz Leg Extension

Lying Leg Curl

The lying or prone leg curl is a favorite hamstring exercise of Tom Platz. And he treats it with as much intensity as he does the heavy compound movements.

Again using the 10-15 rep range, but this time performing 6-10 sets.

Standing Calf Raises

Moving on to calves, the Quadfather starts with standing calf raises. This exercise helps develop the upper part of your calves. Platz does 3-4 sets of 10-15 reps each.

Related: Smith Machine Standing Calf Raises

Seated Calf Raises

Finally, seated calf raises work the soleus muscle underlying the length of the calf. Again, Platz performs 3-4 sets of 10-15 reps.

Tom Platz Legs Calves

More Bodybuilding Workouts

Now you know Tom Platz’s leg workout routine. But remember, this is just one example of leg training, and it definitely isn’t right for everyone.

So here are some additional leg workout articles you might find interesting.

Chris Bumstead Contest Prep & Offseason Leg Workouts

Bill Pearl High Volume, Low Intensity Workouts

55+ Leg Day Memes Worthy Of Sharing With Your Friends

Chris Bumstead Push Pull Legs Routine

Mike Mentzer High Intensity, Low Volume Workout Routine

If you found this article informative and enjoyable, check out some of my other great content below!

Share with your community and get the conversation started!

Go to Top