“I started with six 45-pound plates on each side with collars. I did about 20 reps to failure. These weren’t powerlifting-style squats, but strict bodybuilding-style squats, going all the way down to where your butt touches your calves.
“I racked it, immediately took a plate of, and did as many reps as I could to failure with five plates. Racked it again, rested slightly longer, and did four plates, then I went down to 315, then 225, each time for failure. The entire set was probably a total of 150 reps.
“I was totally exhausted at that point. I remember lying on the floor, and it felt like someone was stabbing knives into my legs. After I retired [from bodybuilding competition], I often thought I was nuts. Who in their right mind would do things like that? As a professional athlete, it certainly isn’t about health, it’s about performance. It’s about being the freakiest person onstage.”
That’s Tom Platz, recalling his all-time sickest leg workout in a 2001 interview as he looked back over a legendary career. That he never won a professional bodybuilding contest and could muster no better than third on the sport’s biggest stage—that was in 1981, one of seven appearances in the Mr. Olympia—hasn’t tarnished his image over time.
Indeed, utter his name among iron fans today, and those who have seen the old grainy black and white training photos of Platz’s heyday vividly remember one thing about him: the incredible, carved-out detail of his dense, freaky, otherworldly legs.
All these decades later, despite the dramatic advancements and enhancements (chemical or otherwise) of today’s bodybuilding stars, Platz’s wheels still reign as arguably the most revered of all time… and this from a bodybuilder who stood merely 5'7" and topped out around 212 pounds onstage. He stands as proof that legs—perhaps like no other body part—can transcend mere titles and grant one eternal fame.
In the years hence, few have followed in Platz’s tectonic footsteps. The reason is painfully simple, in a literal sense. In order to build incredible, three-dimensional, physics-defying quadriceps, hamstrings, and glutes, one has to push themselves through excruciating agony few humans can withstand. That is, to the maniacal edge Platz reminisced about above, where you lie on the floor afterward, peering into the dark depth of your soul and wonder, “Will I survive this experience?”
Here, as demonstrated by IFBB pro Lionel Beyeke, one of today’s true freaks—in the best sense of the term—is a workout that can test your mettle and your muscle. In the end, you may not be standing upright necessarily, but you’ll surely be taking giant steps forward in your quest for leg development of historical proportions.
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