Master Sgt. Grainger: Fitness Fanatic

  • Published
  • By Senior Airman Michael Bowman
  • 17th Training Wing Public Affairs

With the new year underway, gyms across the country are going to see a rise in membership as millions of Americans resolve to improve their personal fitness, but for Master Sgt. Dalton Grainger, his journey into weightlifting began not at the turning of the new year, but while deployed back in 2014.

Master Sgt. Grainger is currently stationed at Goodfellow Air Force Base as an instructor with the 316th Training Squadron, but long before he was pushing students through the training pipeline, he was pushing his limits in the desert. While on deployment in 2014, Grainger discovered his passion for fitness. “On deployment, all there is to do is complete the mission, eat, and workout. It was what made me feel good,” said Grainger. “When I came back I stuck with it for a few years before getting really serious.”

As COVID-19 drastically changed the way the Air Force accomplished the mission day to day, many Airmen saw their fitness decline. While the world transitioned towards an emphasis on teleworking capabilities and social distancing, it became more difficult to utilize gyms and other physical training facilities. Many people found it more difficult than ever to workout, but for Grainger he made the most of the situation by revamping his home gym. “I got really lucky on timing,” said Grainger. “I actually bought a bunch of home gym equipment, and then once they shut everything down all I had to do was go back into that deployment mindset again.” Since much of Grainger’s job takes place in a classified environment, there was only so much for him to accomplish through teleworking. Instead of sitting around, he turned all of his focus to his physical training.

“I got really big into fitness, training with specific programs consistently. I was training four times a week, it was a really good outlet for me during the pandemic,” said Grainger. His dedication to training has led him to competition powerlifting where he has seen marked success, placing first for his division in his first competition. Grainger recently accomplished his goal of joining the 1,000 lbs. club, a term used for competition powerlifters that move over 1,000 lbs. cumulatively over the three main events; squat, deadlift, and bench press.

Grainger wasn’t always the dedicated athlete he is today. The champion powerlifter has had two fitness assessment failures in his Air Force career. “I was the complete opposite. I didn’t eat well, I smoked, drank, and partied. I put on weight that wasn't necessarily muscle, and had to take a hard look in the mirror,” said Grainger. By setting high goals for himself, and sticking to a disciplined routine, Grainger has completely changed his outlook on fitness. “Just because you’ve failed in the past or made mistakes doesn’t mean it’s the end of your career. I’ve had two fitness assessment failures and I still made master sergeant.” 

Grainger’s new outlook and dedication has led him to discover his passion for fitness, as he alternates between training for powerlifting events, and CrossFit workouts that prepare him for his official fitness assessments. Grainger’s next goal is to score higher than a 90 on his next PT test. “My advice is to change today,” said Grainger. “You just have to show that you’re serious, and you’re willing to improve. Ultimately, it’s your responsibility, you have to take ownership.”