Hardcore Contender - Tom Platz

The hardest of hardcore leg workouts
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His very name sounds like a comic book punch connecting with a skull: PLATZ! And his every workout was a war of attrition, not between him and the iron but between him and his muscles, and he refused to surrender. When he couldn’t get another full rep, he enlisted just enough help on forced reps. After that, he did half reps, and when he couldn’t get half reps, he did quarter reps, and then he just held the weight against the forces of gravity until his muscles, screaming for mercy, admitted defeat. He would not lose.

Coming into the 1981 Olympia, he was 26, a middling pro, noted as much for his lack of upper-body mass as his outstanding legs. But that summer he had pushed his workouts into new realms of torture and made one of the most dramatic one-year transformations in the history of bodybuilding. Not only was his upper body catching up to the previous high standards of his legs, but — forget symmetry — his legs were traveling where none had gone before, and many believe his wheels still have not been surpassed. He stunned the physique world with a third at the controversial ’81 Olympia and was the talk of bodybuilding for the following year. “I’ll win or die trying,” he famously said of the Olympia, but a much smaller tragedy — a torn biceps — derailed his dream the following year when he was favored for victory but finished sixth. His physique was never the same. Still, that brash and brutal sentiment summarized Platz’s too-brief but legendarily intense quest for the Sandow.

PLATZ'S '81 LEG ROUTINE

  • Squats, 8-10 sets, 20-8 reps, 635 lbs max weight
  • Hack squats, 5 sets, 10-15 reps, 500 lbs max weight
  • Leg extensions, 5-8 sets, 10-15 reps*, 350 lbs max weight
  • Lying leg curls, 6-10 sets, 10-15 reps*, 240 lbs max weight
  • Standing calf raises, 3-4 sets, 10-15 reps*, 500 lbs max weight
  • Seated calf raises, 3-4 sets, 10-15 reps*, 225 lbs max weight
  • Hack machine calf raises, 3-4 sets, 10-15 reps*, 400 lbs max weight

*NOTES: Final sets of each exercise were drop sets extended even further via partial reps. This is not reflected in rep totals.

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