Tom Platz’s Master Class
Here’s what happened when the legendary Golden Eagle hosted his world-famous squat clinic and motivational seminar at the Ironclub Strength Complex in Garden Grove, CA, presented by Old School Labs.
Learning how to perform the squat from Tom Platz is like taking driving lessons from Mario Andretti. A very patient and cerebral Mario Andretti.
As one of the greatest bodybuilding legends of all-time, Platz is renowned for mastering perhaps the most important foundational weight-training exercise ever invented, the squat. It has been called the “king of exercises”. This is one movement every serious athlete needs to incorporate into their strength-and-conditioning routine. The squat is an essential element in bodybuilding, strength training, Olympic lifting, and functional fitness, not to mention one of the three lifts in powerlifting competitions.
With a background in powerlifting and Olympic lifting, Platz mastered the mechanics of the squat as a young man. He also developed numerous mental tricks and intensity techniques to get the most muscle cell recruitment you can from the exercise. Says Platz: “I was influenced by weightlifters back in the ’70s and the squat rack almost became a separate sport for me.”
One photo of Platz in top condition tells the story. In his prime, the Golden Eagle’s leg development shocked even longtime veterans of the sport. The size, density, and striations of his quads and hamstrings boggled the mind, earning him the nickname “The Quadfather”. To this day, he remains unmatched in the area of leg development in the history of the sport.
Platz built his superhuman quads by performing squats with insanely heavy reps, sometimes over 600 lb, displaying an intensity that even he admits was a little crazy.
The Golden Era legend now travels the globe giving seminars on training, and on May 27, Platz visited the Ironclub Strength Complex in Garden Grove, CA, to host one of his valuable squat clinics. Presented by Old School Labs, Platz provided in-depth instruction and motivation to the group of men and women who were wise enough to seek instruction from one of the world’s foremost authorities of the craft of weight training and bodybuilding.
Here’s what went down.
Class (with Mass) Is in Session
Platz is like an engineer who has deconstructed and rebuilt the squat over and over again for decades. He has thought through every aspect of the exercise, and put his concepts into practice at the gym.
The Golden Eagle was recently signed as an Old School Labs Ambassador, and the title “ambassador” fits him well. While his outsized reputation can intimidate those who have never been in the presence of one of the sport’s true legends, Platz’s easygoing, approachable style, and friendly introductory statements put everyone at ease.
After his opening remarks, Platz took each participant through a simulation of a squat to help each one understand and, more importantly, feel the nuances of the movement.
Now, 62 years old, Platz is an energetic, vibrant presence, who offers clear guidelines on all aspects of the exercise. Everything from foot placement, stance width, breathing, depth of descent, where to focus your eyes as you move up and down—all these details are important to maximize the effects of the squat. More than any other multi-joint barbell exercise, the squat requires a specific choreography that takes careful practice.
Like the patient mentor he is, Platz provided clear instructions to each member of the group. While the attendees in Garden Grove were all familiar with training and the squat in particular, each had different experience levels, and Platz was careful to take the time necessary to prepare them for the part of the clinic when the bar is loaded and the real work begins.
“Go Five More!”
When Platz begins the part of the clinic where actual weight is being squatted, he doesn’t hold back from challenging those in attendance. Of course, Platz understands who can handle the extra workload (he’s been doing this for a while), but the lesson is clear to everyone in attendance: If you have the correct mindset, you can push your body to places you never thought you could.
The room became alive when the Eleiko plates were thrown on the bar and the grunting and leg shaking began. Platz would make sure the form was perfect before exhorting the exerciser to “go five more!”
Five more reps? That’s easy for Platz to say. And he said it often when it was time for the heavy lifting. But he knows how to motivate and inspire. One young woman named Amy did more than 40 reps with over 130 lb, dropping to the floor Platz-style after she was finished.
In this part of the clinic, the energy is electric. Much different from the quieter studious approach Platz takes in the early instructional part of the seminar. Platz challenges as he instructs. And there’s no better way to absorb new information then to put it into practice immediately.
Grunts became screams, and personal bests were topped one after another. Platz often cites the camaraderie of the Golden Era in articles and interviews, and he tries to create that same atmosphere at his clinics. He’s the first to applaud when the final rep is completed.
In addition to the squat clinic, Platz conducted a motivational seminar. Beyond its inspirational benefits, those attending the Garden Grove event heard incredible memories from the Golden Era of bodybuilding by a legend who was in the middle of it all.
Golden Era Stories You Won’t Hear Anywhere Else.
In addition to the Squat Clinic, Tom provided a Motivational Seminar. Check out the highlights below and stayed tuned as we will be releasing the extended cut soon.
Part raconteur, part sage, Platz holds court in a mesmerizing discussion. He’s one of the best storytellers of the Golden Era. He’s a careful observer who remembers the details of his encounters in Gold’s Gym. He remembers what really happened on the stages of some of history’s most renowned contests.
Despite being a legend, Platz presents his compelling personal story in a way that’s relatable. With a disarming honesty, he talks about his early training years. How he made the decision to move from Michigan to Southern California. How he would eat pizza the night before a big squat session. And how he kept working until he found himself standing next to the greats he admired as a kid.
After all, you’re learning more than how to do a squat when you attend one of his seminars. The Golden Eagle understands that overcoming the pain and struggle during a workout can transfer to other skills. Platz has often said that what he learned in bodybuilding has helped him in all areas of life.
This is the type of event that creates memories for a lifetime. If you ever get a chance to attend, don’t hesitate. Platz inspires as he teaches. That’s one of the unadvertised benefits of a Tom Platz squat clinic. You show up to learn how to squat, and you leave with life lessons you can apply beyond the gym.
Like so many, Platz had his naysayers, people who told him, “You’ll never make it.” But he overcame the obstacles—as well as his own doubts—to push forward. He will inspire you to do the same.
As Platz says: “If you give up on your dream, what do you have left?”
Have you attended a squat clinic or motivational seminar with Tom Platz? Let us know how the Golden Eagle inspires you in the comments below.