We’re going to be doing something more tongue in cheek on our next episode by morphing Joe Rogan into a Bili Ape, but it’s indicative of how we’re going to be using 3D models to, compare and contrast anatomy.
Working our way to Tom Platz achieving an Arnold peak, Here’s a shot from the 1977 AAU Mr America before Tom Platz became a household name amongst bodybuilders. This level of striated feathering in the quads hadn’t been seen before and, even though Platz’s upper and lower body were more balanced at the time, this freakiness in the thighs pretty much eclipsed the rest of his body. If you attended the contest, it’s likely that his quads were what you would remember about him. 1978 was when Platz first started getting a lot of magazine coverage. It’s clear from this photo of the 1978 AAU Mr. America that it wasn’t just quads, he had hams too, and calves like Schwarzenegger, in that, he didn’t have to lift his heels to exhibit tons of detail. Platz’s ascent was meteoric and his upper legs in particular were a novelty that got him attention, bookings for seminars, appearances, course sales, etc, so he exploited them by making them even freakier. Quads, adductors, hams…. no one came close.
At the same time, Platz was intent on bringing up his upper body to match his lower. Platz’s back, with full development down to his iliac crest, was a strong point, but dominant arms, especially biceps, needed to be factored into the equation. If you could sum up biceps peak at the time, or even now, into one image, it could be the biceps shot of Arnold on the cover of his best seller, Arnold: The Education of a Bodybuilder. The steep drop off from biceps peak down to where the biceps meets the deltoids was unparalleled. The earliest bodybuilding photos of Arnold showed signs of the potential for his later biceps peak. Tom showed biceps potential as well, but he may have maximized his genetic potential for biceps even further than Arnold because, as we will see, Platz ended up with some unexpectedly spectacular peaks on his biceps, after prioritizing them.
Determined to create an Arnold-like peak, Platz went to the biceps-blasting limit as described in this early 1980s Muscle and Fitness article. To quote Tom, “During the off-season, I have been experimenting with various types of preachers curls. Using one arm at a time seems to work best for me. My two key biceps movements are alternate dumbbell curls and regular barbell curls, both done in extremely strict style. I’ve never found another biceps movement that can compare with either of these.”
According to the article, Platz used to go to the gym early in the morning when no one else was around and do strict dumbbell curls with 20 pounds, in order to practice isolating his biceps. That led to him being able to increase the weight to 70 pound dumbbells while still getting the same feeling, and strict movement. Unlike Arnold and Franco, Tom said he didn’t do cheat curls because he didn’t like the way they felt. He wanted to concentrate on how his biceps felt through the longest motion possible.
These images show the results of Platz’s quest for an Arnold peak. Platz got the look he was going for. He had that same steep fall off that Arnold had on the cover of his book. Biceps were never Platz’s weak point, but the peak he was eventually able to develop looked almost beyond his genetics. However, Tom tore his right biceps some time after his 1981 Mr Olympia third place to Franco Columbu and Chris Dickerson, a contest some say Tom should have won. At the controversial 1981 Mr Olympia, Platz was in his best ever condition, had zero muscle tears, while Franco Columbu had very weak quads due to an earlier injury and Chris had both pec, and arm, tears.
Platz’s post-1981 Mr Olympia biceps tear was very noticeable but if you want an example of someone who tore their right biceps off their bone early on in their career but their torn biceps, due to great surgery, looked the same as their untorn biceps, look no further than Vince Taylor. What’s amazing is that most of the photos you’ve ever seen of Vince Taylor’s right biceps, are post-surgery.