Andrew Burton

Four hundred and three pounds. That’s the magic number that has put Andrew Burton, Washington, at the top of the list with USA Powerlifting of Missouri.

Back on March 23, Burton, a 2006 graduate of Union High School and son of Monica and Ron Burton, Union, broke the state record for raw bench press by lifting that amount, 403 pounds, at the 39th Annual Missouri State/Ozark Powerlifting and Benchpress Championships held at Oakville High School in St. Louis.

The previous record, Burton said, was around 370 pounds. The exact amount in pounds is give or take a little because the weights are actually measured in kilograms, he explained.

Burton said as soon as he completed the lift, he knew he had broken the record. He went into the competition intending to do just that.

“I felt excited . . . happy,” he said.

Organizers of the competition knew he had broken the record too. They announced it right away, said Burton.

His accomplishment wasn’t alone. There were a couple of records broken that day, Burton noted.

What Is Powerlifting?

For people who aren’t familiar with the term powerlifting, Burton explained it refers to competitions with three types of lifts — bench press, dead lift and squat.

Bench press is when a person lies on his or her back and lifts a weighted bar up above the chest. Dead lift is just lifting a bar up off the ground, not overhead. And squat, is when a person starts in a standing position with a weighted bar on his or her back, squats down with the bar in place and then stands back up again.

In competitions, athletes can do all three collectively for a total weight or do just one type of lift, said Burton.

At the State/Ozark Championship in March, he chose just to do bench press so he could focus all of his energy and adrenaline on the one event to better his odds of breaking the record. Competitions can be lengthy with a lot of waiting around time.

“You can’t just lift when you want to, so that changes what you are ready and warmed up to lift when it’s your turn,” he said, noting that his 403-pound record bench press may be the most he’s ever lifted in a competition, but he’s bench pressed as much as 445 pounds in training.

In addition to the three types of lifts at these competitions, there also are two categories of lifting — raw or equipped. Raw, Burton explained, means that the lifter does not use any special knee wraps or shirts for added support. Equipped, by contrast, means that the lift can use those items, which can significantly increase the amount of weight a person can lift.

For example, Burton broke the record for raw bench press, which was some 370 pounds. The record for equipped bench press, he said, is around 500 pounds.

Personally, Burton said he prefers the raw competitions, although the wraps and supports do have their place. They came along as a means of protecting lifters from injuries, and since competitions allow everyone the same opportunity to use them, it is a level playing field.

One thing that is not allowed in USA Powerlifting events are performance enhancing drugs, said Burton. The competitions are drug-free and athletes are tested.

Career in Personal Training

Burton has been competing in USA Powerlifting events since he was in high school. Back then he also was on the football team, ran track and played other sports recreationally.

After high school, Burton went to East Central College for a year before transferring to the University of Central Missouri at Warrensburg.

Originally Burton was a physical education major, but he discovered he didn’t like teaching as much as he did physical fitness, so he changed his major to exercise science and nutrition.

He graduated from UCM in 2010, but still wasn’t sure what direction his career should take. In college, he had completed an internship at a cardiac rehab unit in a hospital for post-heart surgery patients, and he kind of liked that work.

But 2010 wasn’t a great year for any college graduates, so he applied lots of places. He was hired as a personal trainer with a gym in Warrenton, but when he wasn’t getting enough hours to keep him busy, he began branching out on his own.

He started with in-home personal training until his clientele built up enough to warrant him leasing a facility at MacArthur and Fifth streets in Washington. About two months ago he began leasing space on the upper floor at N Sports in Washington.

Burton named the business HomeFront Fitness because it’s where he got his start — in people’s homes.

Today he has about 50 personal training clients that he works with one-on-one and about 100 other clients who attend his group classes. Clients range in age from 11 and 12 years old up to seniors in their mid- to late-70s.

His business has grown mostly by word of mouth advertising, although he also maintains a Facebook page.

Burton recently added some new equipment to his array — TRX straps for suspension training, climbing ropes and gymnastics rings.

Competitions Are Way ‘to Test Himself’

To keep himself in shape, Burton said he lifts weights four to five times a week and also leads all of the weekly cardio classes for his clients.

His diet includes protein at every meal and all throughout the day, plus drinking a lot of water.

“The more hydrated you are the better, for anything,” he remarked.

Looking ahead, Burton said he will definitely keep attending USA Powerlifting competitions. He typically attends one or two a year, usually just ones in Missouri.

There aren’t usually any cash prizes that come with winning, he said. It’s more for recreation.

“I like to lift weights, be physically fit and (this) gives me a way to compete,” said Burton, “to test myself, kind of.”