Quarterbacks build arm strength incrementally by throwing the football day after day, adding velocity and distance. But sport- and position-specific resistance training can make the core, shoulder and arm muscles stronger and more durable. A proper workout program can help quarterbacks throw the ball greater distances. From the high school level up to the NFL, quarterbacks use extensive weight training programs to improve their performance.
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Value of Weight Training
Even quarterbacks deep into their careers can improve their throwing range through proper weight training. Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers improved his arm strength after coming to the NFL from the University of California. "He never displayed this type of rocket or the ability to throw the ball from every angle," former Cleveland Browns executive Michael Lombardi wrote for NFL.com. "He had a good arm, now he has a powerful arm ... he looks like he enjoys the weight room and has made his meek body into one that can take a hit and drive the football."
Rodgers, Drew Brees and several other quarterbacks use TRX suspension training and other instruments while training at Todd Durkin's Fitness Quest 10 facility. "A lot of my emphasis is on the core, as well as shoulder and joint integrity," said Durkin, who estimates that 60 percent of a quarterback's power comes from core muscles. Durkin targets the scapula area while emphasizing shoulder deceleration. He aims to balance the front-side and back-side muscle development. Rodgers uses barbells, dumbbells, kettlebells and superbands in addition to the TRX to get stronger. He throws 15-pound medicine balls off the wall and catches them in a high-repetition drill. On the dumbbell bench press, he and the quarterbacks use 70- or 80-pound dumbbells. Rodgers also uses Pilates to build his core muscles and Yoga to improve his flexibility.
Quarterbacks train during the season, too, to maintain their strength, flexibility and durability. John Balano, strength and conditioning coach for the City College of San Francisco football team, recommends various medicine ball drills to work the core muscles and the "Jobe dumbbell protocol" exercises to the strengthen the four muscles comprising the rotator cuff. He recommends using dumbbells 5 pounds or lighter while stressing precise form in each exercise.
No Substitute for Throwing
While weight training is important to quarterbacks, extensive throwing programs remain critical as well. “It’s just like when a track guy needs to get faster. You don’t do 5,000 squats, you run and run some more," Bengals quarterback Carson Palmer told the "Dayton Daily News" in 2009. "To get your arm in shape you throw and continue to throw."