FORT RUCKER, Ala. -- Individuals interested in stepping up to the bar to test their mettle will soon get their opportunity.

Fort Rucker's Battle at the Barbell: Powerlifting Competition takes place Feb. 10 at the Fort Rucker Physical Fitness Center on Andrews Avenue and, according to Zea Urbiztondo, fitness program specialist, the event was created due to overwhelming requests.

"This has been very patron-driven with requests from Soldiers and other fitness enthusiasts asking for a powerlifting competition to be held on Fort Rucker," she said. "There are several that have been hosted in nearby gyms and other military installations that people have to travel to, so they were looking for something closer.

"It has been a few years since the last weightlifting-type competition has been held on Fort Rucker," she added. "With the growing trends in the powerlifting and Olympic weightlifting communities, it was definitely a great opportunity to try to bring it back."

Early weigh-in takes place Feb. 9 from 5-7 p.m. at the Fort Rucker PFC. Competitors may also register and weigh-in the day of the event from 8-8:45 a.m. A mandatory event-day athlete meeting will be held at the PFC from 8:45-9 a.m. The competition begins at 9 a.m.

Urbiztondo said the increased popularity in weight training directly aids combat readiness.

"Weight training as a whole is very important in order to build muscle and strengthen your body," she said. "By training appropriately and increasing your weights while training, your body builds muscle and adapts to the weight of loads. So when you look at instances such as distance rucks with 50-pound packs on your back, having to lift tactical equipment into the backs of trucks, or having to carry a comrade away from a danger zone while deployed -- incorporating weight training into your exercise program is crucial as a tactical athlete."

Powerlifting is a weightlifting sport where the main goal is to determine overall strength, she added. It is based off three main lifts: squat, bench press and deadlift. The lifter has three attempts to lift the heaviest weight for a single repetition.

"These three movements are often referred to as the big three because they set a solid foundation for many other movements," Urbiztondo said. "Being able to perform the squat, bench press and deadlift safely and correctly helps with overall strength gains and increased core stability."

Whereas bench presses target the chest and squads target the lower body along with the back, Urbiztondo said the deadlift combines numerous muscles throughout the entire body.

"The deadlift is the most effective full-body exercise because so many muscles move simultaneously," she said. "It is probably one of the best ways to measure strength because of the complexity of the movement and the amount of muscles utilized.

"When done correctly, the deadlift strengthens the upper and lower body, as well as the back and core muscles, which are crucial for overall stabilization and injury prevention," she added. "Deadlifts also work on grip strength and are very relatable to real life application. You are always going to be picking things up off the ground such as grocery bags, furniture, equipment, etc."

Although the competition will welcome numerous advanced powerlifters and athletes, Urbiztondo said beginners are also encouraged to sign up.

"This is a great event for all lifters to participate in, no matter their experience," she said. "Even if you do not have a lot of lifting experience, it is always great to challenge yourself to push as hard as you can. Find out what the rules and regulations are, learn how to do the lifts safely and correctly, and give competing a try.

"Everyone has to start somewhere and there is no better place to be inspired and motivated than being around others who are all pushing to the best of their abilities," she added. "Many people who try powerlifting for the first time fall in love with it. Even if you have never competed before, now is the time to step out of your comfort zone and experience something new."

Less experienced lifters can also attend an upcoming pre-competition clinic to help prepare them for the event.

"There will be a free informative pre-competition clinic held at the PFC [Jan. 27] for anyone interested in competing or just wanting more information," Urbiztondo said. "We will go over rules and regulations, what is expected of each lift and any questions people may have."

Registration for the competition is $45 before Feb. 1 and $55 afterwards. Registration can be paid at the front desk of the PFC and is open until the morning of the event.

For more information, call 255-2296.