I tried Tom Platz's leg workout — here's what happened

a photo of a man doing a squat and bodybuilder Tom Platz
(Image credit: Getty/Alvaro Medina Jurado/Instagram/tomplatz)

Bodybuilder legend Tom Platz, who gained fame for his immense leg development, is considered one of the greatest leg trainers of all time. Kicking off his competitive bodybuilding career in the ‘70s, he quickly made a name for himself in the fitness industry thanks to his impressive set of quadriceps, which are widely regarded as some of the best in the history of bodybuilding.

His legs were characterized by their impressive size, symmetry, and striated muscle definition. This led to him being known as "The Golden Eagle" and earned him a devoted following of fans and aspiring bodybuilders who sought to emulate his training methods by pushing their limits and achieving new heights in leg training.

It’s no wonder then, that Platz’s leg workout is still prominent today, known for its high volume, heavy weights, and a combination of compound exercises and isolation movements that targets the quadriceps, hamstrings, and glutes.

Intrigued by Platz’s legacy, I thought I’d give the workout a go and relay if it really is all it's cracked up to be.

Precursor: while Platz's leg workout gained fame for its intensity and effectiveness — promising to deliver impressive results — it’s important to note that working the leg muscles every single day probably isn't such a great idea.

Like any other muscle group, the leg muscles require adequate rest and recovery to grow and develop. Overtraining can lead to muscle fatigue, increased risk of injury, and hinder progress. Therefore, it's essential to balance intense leg training with proper rest days to allow for optimal muscle repair and growth.

Still, I thought there was no harm in giving the workout a go. Here’s how I got on…

What is the Tom Platz leg workout? 

Before I get into my experience trying out Tom Platz's leg workout, let’s delve into what exactly it is.

There’s no denying that Tom’s famed leg routine is a gruelling and demanding set of exercises. It primarily focuses on building strength and size in the lower body and incorporates a combination of heavy compound exercises, isolation movements, and high-volume training.

While Platz’s exact leg routine varied throughout his career, here are the key elements of Platz's leg workout and how many sets/reps are required from each exercise:


an illustration of a woman doing dumbbell squats

(Image credit: shutterstock)

The cornerstone of Platz's leg routine is a series of squats, which are performed with heavy weights and high intensity (here are the best adjustable dumbbells if you're still weight training at home). This compound exercise engages multiple muscle groups and stimulates overall leg development.

How to do it: Perform 4-5 working sets of 8-12 repetitions, focusing on deepening the squat and maintaining proper form (here's more on how to do a squat). Use a weight challenging enough to stimulate muscle growth.

Leg Press

an illo of a man using a leg press machine

(Image credit: Shutterstock)

Next up is the leg press, which further emphasizes the quadriceps while providing additional support for heavy loads. It also allows for greater isolation of the leg muscles and can be adjusted to target different areas of the quads.

How to do it:  Do 4-5 sets of 8-12 repetitions, progressively increasing the weight. Ensure a full range of motion, going as deep as your flexibility allows while maintaining control. Here's what happened when this fitness writer used the leg press every day for two weeks

Leg Extensions

an illo of a man using the leg extension machine

(Image credit: Shutterstock)

Another isolating exercise that makes up Tom’s rigorous routine is the leg extension, which focuses mainly on the quadriceps and provides an intense burn to the targeted muscles. This exercise is usually performed with high repetitions to induce muscle hypertrophy (in short: the enlargement of total muscle mass and cross-sectional area).

How to do it: Use a leg extension machine and perform 3-4 sets of 12-15 repetitions. Focus on squeezing the quadriceps at the top of each repetition. Here's what happened when this fitness writer added 60 leg extensions to her daily routine for a week

Hack Squats

a man using a hack squat machine

(Image credit: Shutterstock)

Last up we have hack squats, which place emphasis on the quads while also engaging the glutes and hamstrings. This variation of the squat provides an effective way to target different areas of the leg muscles.

How to do it: Load the hack squat machine with an appropriate weight and perform 3-4 sets of 8-12 repetitions. Focus on the mind-muscle connection, feeling the quad muscles engage and contract with each rep.

To try the workout myself, I will perform all of the above in one session.

I did Tom Platz's leg workout — here's what happened

As a self-proclaimed fitness fan and someone who can build leg muscle relatively easily (unlike my arms which do not grow no matter how much I work them), I was intrigued to give Platz’s legendary leg workout a try. I knew it wouldn’t be easy, but nothing good in life comes without its challenges, right?

Not even five minutes into Tom’s infamous leg workout and I immediately felt the demands on my leg muscles. The combination of heavy weights and high repetitions really pushed my limits, as expected, and I could feel the burn with each set. Squats, in particular, proved to be quite a humbling experience as I struggled to maintain proper form under the heavy load.

As the workout progressed, I could feel the fatigue setting in. Leg presses and hack squats intensified the burn in my quads while leg extensions provided a targeted and isolated contraction.

The overall volume of the workout was demanding to say the least, and I had to push myself mentally and physically to complete each set — especially toward the end. I ensured that I was only just able to complete the last rep of each set to get the most out of it.

It goes without saying that Platz’ workout was undoubtedly one of the most challenging leg workouts I had ever done. I would never really focus solely on my legs during a visit to the gym. Since my legs are probably the most muscle-dense area of my body, I always mixed up leg workout days with another, opposing area, such as the shoulders. The intensity and focus required to perform the exercises left me feeling completely done in, but it was pretty satisfying to complete it. I can’t say the same about the DOMS that followed in the days afterwards, though…

So. Would I do it again? 

While the Tom Platz leg workout delivered an intense experience and proved effective — especially when it came to my post-gym pump — I would approach it with caution. The high volume and heavy weights require a pretty high fitness level and overall leg strength. 

The key thing here is listening to your body and recognizing the importance of balanced training one thing this workout isn't.

If you’re determined to do it, however, I’d recommend starting slow and gradually increasing the intensity while ensuring adequate rest and recovery to avoid overtraining and potential injuries.

Remember, working the leg muscles every day is not recommended, as they require time to repair and grow. Incorporating the principles of Tom Platz's leg workout into your routine could certainly be beneficial, but should definitely be done in moderation.

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Lee Bell

Lee Bell is a freelance journalist and copywriter specialising in technology, health and fitness and how the latest innovations are shaking up the lifestyle space. From national newspapers to specialist-interest magazines and digital titles, Lee has written for some of the world’s most respected publications during his 12-plus years as a journalist.