World-class powerlifter at Osan

OSAN AIR BASE, Republic of Korea -- Have you ever heard that heated discussion between guys in the gym, "I can bench more than you can," well chances are, one Osan Airman will win that argument every time.

Staff Sgt. Michael P. Schwanke, 51st Communications Squadron wideband technician, is currently ranked 16th in the National Power Lifting Rankings for the 242 pounds weight class.

When he returns to the U.S. in March, he will re-qualify for the American Powerlifting Federation Senior Nationals to be held in June. With a qualifying total, he will advance to the Arnold Classic in Columbus, Ohio, and become part of the elite World Power Lifting Organization.

Power lifting is a strength sport where competitors break down into weight classes. The competitions consist of three events: squat, bench press and the dead lift. In these competitions, the lifter performs each of these event three times. The highest lift from each is added together to equal a total.

Staff Sgt. Schwanke lifted his personal best Sept.1 at the 8th Army Powerlifting Competition held at Camp Humphreys. He squatted 775 pounds, bench-pressed an astonishing 675 pounds, dead-lifted 730 pounds -- which totaled 2,180 pounds, all done at a body weight of 240lbs. For a point of reference, 2,000 pounds equals a ton or the weight of the average compact car.

Staff Sgt. Schwanke said that he started lifting in high school. Once relieved of duty from the Army his lifting became an obsession. Accompanied by long time best friend, Joey Smith, the two started attending East Coast Barbell and Granite City Barbell gyms. It was here where he began training with World Powerlifting Organization Pro's learning proper training methods from Westside Barbell and Metal Militia Barbell Clubs. Shortly after this, Staff Sgt. Schwanke began his second tour of duty, but now as a member of the Air Force.

While stationed here, Staff Sgt. Schwanke devotes nearly all of his off duty time to lifting and helping others around the gym. Instead of going downtown, he focuses on something a bit more positive.

"I try to instill the training ethics that I have learned into others," said Staff Sgt. Schwanke. "I look for people with the same drive and devotion as myself."

His training philosophies are simple, "be willing to learn proper techniques, and if you're not giving 110 percent then get out!"