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The science of mind and body: A successful combination for one Airman

  • Published
  • By Susan A. Romano
  • AFTAC Public Affairs

When Dalton McIntire was a freshman in high school, he spent a lot of time lifting weights in his school’s gym.  For him, it was a way to increase stamina, strengthen his workout routine, and further build on his abilities on the baseball field


It wasn’t until about four years ago after he enlisted in the Air Force that he developed a love for powerlifting.

To the layperson, weightlifting and powerlifting may seem like synonymous and interchangeable terms, but there are actual differences between the two.


Weightlifting is a “speed” sport, requiring the participant to lift the most weight in the shortest period of time, and the object is to lift that weight over your head.  Powerlifting, on the other hand, is a “strength” sport, where the participant uses the squat, bench press and deadlift techniques to lift as much weight as possible, but not overhead.


Both, however, require commitment and dedication –traits that McIntire displays not only in the gym, but on the job as well.


As a Scientific Applications Specialist at the Air Force Technical Applications Center, the Air Force senior airman works at the Department of Defense’s sole nuclear treaty monitoring center. His primary job is as a geophysical maintenance technician in AFTAC’s Component Repair Facility, where he maintained seismic equipment used on all seven continents to detect and examine nuclear weapons detonations across the globe.


After demonstrating strong attention to detail and solid leadership skills in his primary job, McIntire was selected to become a product manager for the center’s Systems Development Directorate. In that role, he is responsible for both product planning and product business value, including managing products throughout their lifecycle; gathering and prioritizing product and customer requirements; defining the product vision and strategy; removing/minimizing team blockers; managing and organizing stakeholders; and working closely with developers and designers to deliver operable products.


He finds time to balance his demanding work schedule with his passion for powerlifting and to date has participated in several competitions. 


“Up until about a year ago, I was lifting by myself,” McIntire said.  “But then I found an amazing powerlifting gym in the local area and teamed up with an awesome group of fellow lifters.  Working out with people of the same mindset with the same goals has been not only inspirational, but also motivational.  Everyone brings something different to the table and we all learn from each other and encourage each other to be the best we can be.”


In addition to powerlifting events, he’s also competed in a Strongman competition and a few charity events.


“I’ve taken 1st Place in all the divisions I’ve competed in, and I’m currently ranked 2nd in the State of Florida for the USA Powerlifting 93 kilogram class,” he said.  “At powerlifting competitions, you compete by weight classes, much like in wrestling and boxing, so that a smaller 165-pound athlete won’t be up against a 300-pound lifter.”


Being a powerlifter requires discipline, stamina, focus and drive. He parlays all of those traits into his required military physical fitness training as well.


“I did pretty well on my last Air Force PT test – scored a 94.6 – and I’m proud of that,” he said.  “But I’m always pushing myself to do better, so I’m shooting for a perfect score the next time around.”


Since the coronavirus outbreak, McIntire has had to adapt his workout schedule to ensure he gets his time in at the gym.


“I was somewhat lucky at the beginning of COVID-19,” McIntire said.  “I was in a competition the day before my gym shut down, and once the competition was complete, I planned ease up a bit to give my body a rest.”


The desire to stay in competition-shape, however, led him to buy and rent some equipment and train with three of his workout buddies from home.


“We dubbed my garage the ‘Iron Circus’ as there was always some kind of laughter or craziness going on between the seriousness and intensity we all shared during training sessions.”


Fortunately for the Airmen, the base fitness center as well as McIntire’s downtown gym have reopened and his small group is back lifting and training together.


The Air Force has a competitive sports program that reaches around the globe for the morale, welfare and recreation of its active duty servicemembers.  Unfortunately for McIntire, the Air Force disbanded its official Powerlifting Team a few years ago, but he has his sights set on convincing the service to reinstate it as an official Air Force sport again someday.

“The AFSP is designed to encourage competition, camaraderie and unit cohesion,” McIntire said.  “It also helps Air Force athletes continue on to competitions at the regional, national and international levels while representing the force as world-class athletes.  My goal is to generate enough interest from Airmen who powerlift throughout our branch of service so we can see powerlifting reinstated as a competitive sports program.”


Whether he meets that goal or not, he remains passionate and focused on bettering himself as an athlete and an Airman.


“I encourage everyone -- male and female – to get involved in some form of lifting weights, whether it’s powerlifting, bodybuilding, weightlifting, or just some form of involvement at the gym,” he said.  “It can really change a person’s life more than they realize.”


He added, “I’ve memorized a quote that I refer to often to keep motivated.  It’s by Louie Simmons, a former American powerlifter and strength coach.  He said, ‘Your job in the gym is to make others stronger by any means necessary, and their job is to make you stronger by any means necessary.’  If any of my fellow Airmen need some extra motivation at the gym, let me know – my job will be to help make you stronger!”