Tuesday, January 4, 2022

Tom Platz Leg Training Manual


Thanks to L.T. 


Never before in the history of bodybuilding has there been a pair of thighs like those of Tom Platz, IFBB Mr. Universe. The size, proportion, shape, cuts and vascularity of Tom's legs are absolutely legendary and overshadow the tight development of every champion bodybuilder before him. Arnold, Sergio, Zane, all pale by comparison to the herculean Platz underpinnings. 


Tom's massive thighs would lead one to suspect that he was born with some natural advantage, perhaps that he had 24 inch thighs before he even touched a weight. Such is not the case however, as you can see from the "before" photo above. Platz had thighs as skinny as the average guy and he's actually had difficulty developing them over the years.  

Like many novice bodybuilders, Tom totally neglected his thighs for the first year he trained, concentrating instead on the showy chest and back muscles. As a result, Platz found it extremely difficult to bring his thighs up to the level of the rest of his body. It was only when he discovered how and when to squat that his thighs exploded in a growth rate that brought them in line with his upper body. 

After several years of bodybuilding, Tom switched briefly to powerlifting and quickly pushed his squat up to 600 pounds. Because he powerlifted so briefly and reached such a high personal squat record, many veteran powerlifters have concluded that Tom could eventually have squatted 750-800 pounds at a bodyweight of 198. So effective was his squat routine however, that Tom actually found his thighs getting too big and he subsequently cut back to only one high rep set of squats per week. 

A few weeks ago Tom invited me down to World Gym for a couple of thigh workouts. He wanted me as a guinea pig for the routines included in this book. I tried them for two weeks and was amazed to find my thighs 3/4" larger and with better cuts after that short four workout course.

It should be obvious that Tom Platz is the definitive expert on thigh development and squatting for power. All of the techniques and routines in this book are time-tested by Tom and others whom he has trained. I am confident that you will make great gains training under his guidance whether you want better muscle in your thighs or more squat power! 

 -- Bill Reynolds.


Training the squat for power involves a cyclic type of training pattern, as is followed by many powerlifters and Olympic lifters. Cyclic training involves alternating six to twelve week buildup phases with periods of less intense maintenance work.

During the buildup cycle, a powerlifter will regularly add weight to his maximum sets, timing his peak effort for the day of his competition. After he has competed, the powerlifter will drop back to less intense training and use higher reps in his workouts. Instead of 2 reps using 500 pounds as the top weight, he might do only 400 for 5 reps.  

After several weeks of relative rest with lighter weights and higher reps, the powerlifter may decide to initiate another peaking cycle. Then, regular weight increments are again added each week, say five or ten pounds to the bar for each heavy set. Following such a procedure, a powerlifter can peak successively higher each competition without burning out along the way.

Training the thighs for size, power and strength involves the utilization of heavy poundages, but proper form and performance must still be a major priority. The squat must be performed to parallel or preferably below parallel depth, depending upon your thighs' lever-arm lengths and the flexibility ranges of knee, hip and ankle joints.

To begin with, the bar should ALWAYS be high on the shoulders and close to the neck. Your head and eyes should point straight forward or upward toward the ceiling. It may be helpful to roll a towel around the bar, so it rests easier on your shoulders. The feet should be no more than shoulder width apart, with toes pointed slightly outward. The feet and heels must remain absolutely flat on the floor. I have always squatted with a pair of weightlifting shoes or bare feet. Flatfooted squatting usually works the glutes more than the thighs. Nothing will destroy the value of squatting faster than bending over as you squat. So endeavor to keep your torso upright. Push with the legs and not the back.

I have heard just about every excuse for not squatting. It's dangerous for my back and keens; it makes my glutes big, etc. The truth is that you will probably never reach your full bodybuilding potential without performing the squat. The squat forces your whole body to grow! 
These hints can make your squatting more productive: 
1) Wear tight sweat pants.
2) Wear high socks and use a lifting belt.
3) Use a lifting suit or tight fitting tank top over your jersey. This, along with items one and two enhances the tight, secure feeling that you must have in order to squat properly and successfully.
4) When training for power, have a high carbohydrate meal the night before heavy squats -- example, spaghetti. 
5) When training for cuts, allow no rest between the reps and try to develop a rhythm.
6) Always approach the bar with confidence when training to absolute failure -- MEAN IT. 
Do not think that you have to do all of the above. They are merely hints that you might want to consider.
I do not recommend wraps as I feel they create a dependency and promote injury. Strengthen your muscles, ligaments and joints without wraps.
A. Performed twice weekly with at least 48 hours rest between workouts.
B. MJ -- Major Jumps are the sets in your routine which are of most importance. Not performed to absolute failure.
    MJA -- Major Jumps Absolute are the sets in your routine which are always performed to absolute failure.
C. Additional exercises are the hack squat, leg curl and calf raises.
Monday, Basic Squat, Heavy
135 x 10
225 x 10
275 x 8 MJ
315 x 6 MJ
345 x 4 MJ
360 x 4 MJ
Friday, Basic Squat, Medium
135 x 10
225 x 10
315 x 15-20 MJA
275 x 15-20 MJA
Monday, Basic Squat, Heavy
135 x 10
225 x 10
275 x 6
325 x 3 MJ
345 x 3 MJ
275 x ? (25 reps) MJA
Friday, Basic Squat, Medium
135 x 10
225 x 10
275 x 8
325 x 5 MJ
325 x 5 MJ
325 x 5 MJ
Note: These listed weights are not specific. They are only representations. Your weights will be different through your own experimentation.
I would suggest using the hack squat, and the leg curl in addition to the squat when training for power. They should be performed on both leg days during the week. The hack squat should be performed after the squat, performing no more than six heavy sets, 4 to 8 reps to absolute failure on all sets. 
I suggest a regressive weight pattern. Follow this with 4 to 6 sets of leg curls, 10-12 reps to absolute failure on all sets. At this point I would suggest forced reps, negative and positive, with the aid of a training partner. Perform no more than two forced reps. A very good way to end each set is to do 25 one second isometrics. Instruct your training partner to hold the machine immovable so you can perform the isometrics properly.   

No leg extensions should be performed when training for power. When I did extensions on a power program it always hampered my increase in squatting poundage. When doing a lot of heavy leg work it is definitely possible to overwork and avoid gains. So be careful, train intelligently, start light and warm up on any exercise you feel the need to.

Note: Do not bring hips forward on hack machine when training for power and size. Keep back and hips flat against machine. 
Note: Leg curls should be performed when training for power, and also when training for cuts. 


The type of routine I will begin to describe in the following should be utilized approximately three to four months before a show and again, proper performance is a must.

When training for cuts, leg extensions should definitely be employed as they will enhance muscle sepraration (muscle clarity) and muscle distinction characteristics.

As in power training, a minimum of at least 48 hours rest between workouts is mandatory.

Monday, Basic Squat
135 x 10
225 x 10
275 x 5
315 x 30-40 MJA
245 x 30 MJA

Thursday, Basic Squat
135 x 10
225 x 10
275 x 40-50 MJA
225 x 40-50 MJA

Again, the weights are only representations.

To achieve maximum separation allow no rest between reps. Upon completion of your first MJA set, rest until you feel mentally ready to proceed to the next set. However, allow as little rest as possible.

Note: You may require a build-up period to enable you to perform these high repetitions. Example -- you may desire to start with 12-15 reps one day and 20-25 reps the next day. Eventually try to push the repetitions higher.

Hack squats should follow your squats on Monday and Thursday. No more than three to five sets to absolute failure. Perform anywhere from 10 to 20 reps. Regressive weight patterns are recommended. 

70 x 10-20 MJA
70 x 10-20 MJA
50 x 10-20 MJA

Bring your hips forward to develop higher cuts. Always push with your toes. 

 Ideal position of feet for the hack squat. Keeping the heels together and the toes pointed outward will develop the lateral section of the thigh or vastus group. 

On completion of the hack squats, you should proceed to the leg extension. No more than six sets, performing 15-30 reps. Remember to go to absolute failure and follow regressive weight patterns. Allow no rest between reps on extensions and hacks.

Endeavor to break you old rep record each week. When broken, either set new rep goal of raise weight slightly higher by five to 10 pounds for the same number of reps. Allowing little if any rest between reps will be essential in burning off almost all existing adipose tissue. Keep in mind I am only referring to the basic squat and I am concerned with major sets only. 

Running can really bring out the striations and can be employed in your program when training for cuts. However, there are some basic rules to follow: 

1) Run after leg workout.
2) Do sprints rather than long distance running.
3) Too much running is counterproductive, which means you may begin to lose size and cuts in your arms and legs. More than five to 10 100 yard dashes is too much. 


Calf work can be employed at the end of your leg routine. This is the best time becaause the blood is locaalized. Four to six sets, varying the weight . . . sometimes heavy and sometimes light. 4 to 50 reps. 

You must constantly shock your calves, even more than any other muscle, to promote growth. Use and deviate from one machine to another. 3 to 5 days of calf work should be sufficient to stimulate growth. Working the calves six days a week was always too much for me -- that is to say staleness quickly occured. Later I discovered that the best way to overcome staleness in calf training was a one to two week layoff. 

Since sticking points and staleness can and often do result, additional and different squat routines are necessary. One routine should be followed for at least three months before deciding to change to another. 

Warmups are always necessary and should never be disregarded Stretching should be employed before starting to squat. Major jumps in weight should never exceed 50 to 75 pounds and should be at least 10 pounds. Each week major jumps should be increased five pounds over the previous week. If you cannot increase the weight on the bar five pounds each week, do so whenever possible. Remember, this five pounds deals with major jumps only. Starting your program with relatively easy major jumps will enhance gains and assure productivity. 


If you truly believe an exercise will work, chances are it will! If you believe you will gain -- you will! Think positive, set goals and visualize improvement and if you exercise to your maximum potential you will get what you want out of your training. So, good luck, train hard and reap the many benefits of bodybuilding. 

Remember . . . each individual is unique. What I have outlined here is what works best for me. Using these prescribed basics will most definitely aid you in developing your own program. What principles work for me may not necessarily work for you in exactly the same ways. 

So, do not be afraid to follow your own instinct and deviate somewhat from my basic outline if you feel the need to. 

Enjoy Your Lifting! 


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