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Powerlifting propels Airman’s drive to succeed

Senior Airman Jacob Horton, 460th Contracting Flight, pushes out an exercise during his win at his first ever powerlifting competition in February 2015 in Colorado. He began powerlifting while on deployment and has been competing successfully since then. (Courtesy Photo)

Senior Airman Jacob Horton, 460th Contracting Flight, pushes out an exercise during his win at his first ever powerlifting competition in February 2015 in Colorado. He began powerlifting while on deployment and has been competing successfully since then. (Courtesy Photo)

Senior Airman Jacob Horton, 460th Contracting Flight, wins first place at his first ever powerlifting competition in February 2015 in Colorado. He began powerlifting while on deployment and has been competing successfully since then. (Courtesy Photo)

Senior Airman Jacob Horton, 460th Contracting Flight, wins first place at his first ever powerlifting competition in February 2015 in Colorado. He began powerlifting while on deployment and has been competing successfully since then. (Courtesy Photo)

BUCKLEY AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. -- It's just a bar. It's 45 pounds of American steel, rolled and folded to 7-feet in length. Its surface is etched with hand grips and its length strengthened to hold nearly 1,200 pounds. But it's still just a bar.

However, for Senior Airman Jacob Horton, 460th Contracting Flight and successful power lifter, there is more to the bar than the steel it's made of and the weight it carries. Horton's commitment to lifting all started with a barbell during a deployment halfway across the world.

"Last year on my deployment, I decided to get serious about fitness and went and found a barbell-focused strength program," explained the 5 foot 10 inch, 200lb Airman. "It was my first real exposure to things like squatting and deadlifting. At this point I still hadn't really thought of actual power lifting as a way to go but after some reading on it I realized this is what I wanted to do."

After returning from his deployment, Horton was still hooked on power lifting.  The bar was becoming more than an inanimate object; it was becoming a way to lift himself to new limits.

"So I started a legitimate power lifting program last May and haven't looked back," Horton said. "I stuck with it at first because I enjoyed the clearly defined goals and style of training. Now, as it gets harder, I stick with it to push myself up and above other competitors I know I'll be going against."

However, for this power lifter who won the first competition he ever entered, his current weight ceiling isn't the only thing he is looking forward to shattering.

"I plan on entering one or two more events this year and hopefully I'll be facing progressively harder competition," he added. "I'm not sure where my potential can take me honestly. I try not to look too far into the future. My main focus right now is getting myself to 625 kilograms (1,375 pounds)."

Horton isn't only a power lifter, but a leader among his peers. As an Airman, his commander sees power lifting as a boon to his motivation and attitude.

"Power lifting has reinforced in him a drive, determination, and work ethic to achieve excellence," said Maj. Gene Smith, 460th CONF commander. 

Much like the bar that remains steadfast no matter how many metal plates stacked on it, Horton relishes the straightforwardness of competitive powerlifting.

"I like powerlifting because it's raw and simple," he said. "There are no excuses. There is no one or nothing to blame on your poor performance. It's me versus the iron. Either I lift the weight, or I don't." 

His sentiment is as rigid and as simple as the bar itself. The bar can carry the weight of the challenges he heaps upon himself.  It has become more than just a bar, it is now his foundation.
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