Training to Get Legs like the Quadfather
Want some wheels? And of course, I am not referring to wheels for your vehicle.
They say to win a bodybuilding competition you need the best back... "Shows are won from the back," a phrase I have heard one too many times. Though historically winners did possess incredibly developed and defined backs, I find this is becoming less and less true as judges seek more aesthetic looks. Ones of symmetrical beauty. Nothing completes a thick back, capped delts and a full chest like some sweeping quads.
In 2020, many bodybuilding fanatics may only be able to think of a handful of current bodybuilders with notable leg development and a training philosophy to go with it. But in a time before mass monsters like Big Ramy, one man became known for his over developed quads - the quadfather, Tom Platz.
When he was a child, he saw Dave Draper on the cover of a Bodybuilding magazine and was mesmerized. From that moment, Platz wanted to grow up to be a bodybuilder. His dad brought him his first set of weights for Christmas. Voraciously, every night after dinner, he would perform different exercises in his basement.
His professional bodybuilding career began, like many of the first bodybuilders, in California at the Mecca. He lived in Santa Monica in a one bedroom apartment with 25 others - both men and women. Soon he was to be known in his local gym for his reverence of the squat and training intensity.
Moving from the AAU to the IFBB, he competed in the 1978 World Amateur Championships and won the middleweight class title. At that show, he finally won his pro card.
Platz's most notable placing was 1981 Mr Olympia competition where he placed 3rd behind Frank Zane and Franco Columbu. This Olympia was very controversial - the year following the 1980 Arnold comeback win. The winner, Franco Columbu, was competing after a long hiatus and recovering from a bad knee injury he got from competing in the Worlds Strongest Man competition years prior. Columbu's physique was not the same as it once had been. Not only did Columbu's older and downsized physique raise questions, but his dearest friend Arnold Schwarzenegger was promoting the show. To many spectators' minds, Platz won that show.
He continued to compete professionally and be a fan favorite. All the fans wanted to see one thing... His legs... Flex those legs, Platz!
When asked in an interview in Muscle Mag what he did to acquire and maintain his legs, he responded, "Mostly squats." He followed with, "The squat rack is an altar to me, a very special place... When I am squatting very hard, my life passes in front of me."
While training for the Olympia, his squat range was around 50 working reps with heavy weight. Platz believed that at the core of his leg development was years of heavy squatting, noting a prevalent flaw in many current bodybuilder's regimen.
"Most bodybuilders get carried away," he said. They think that if squats make their legs grow, they need to add leg presses, hack squats, leg extensions and leg curls. All of a sudden, they're performing red fiber work, endurance training. Go back to squats."
He would not only execute squats with heavy volume but heavy weight. He would perform over 50 reps of 350 lbs in the squat rack. One of his most notable moments is when he performed 23 reps at 525 lbs at FIBO.
Platz told interviewers he believed most people did not squat because it was hard, and with that mindset, they will never win the physique they desire.
In order to endure his squat sessions, he had to be in the right mindset. His legs were not genetic miracles. He pushed through the temporary pain and anything else in his mind that would urge him to stop. Platz said, I would "rather die than acknowledge I am a loser. I do not ever want to go home from the gym a loser... There's nothing I won't do to avoid being a loser, and if you think you could have done more, you are a loser."
So next time it is YOUR leg day, remember squats are king.
For some leg day motivation:
Want to see some heavy weight and heavy volume squatting? Check out this link: