Tech. Sgt. Kenneth Cook knew that his effort to bench-press 551 pounds at a powerlifting competition last month could end in one of two ways. If it went wrong, he could be hospitalized with multiple chest muscle injuries.

But instead, the boom operator from the 60th Operations Group at Travis Air Force Base in California successfully pressed 12 plates of iron Sept. 13 at the annual Olympia Pro Powerlifting Competition in Las Vegas. And in doing so, he smashed the previous 534-pound world record for an unassisted bench press lift for the 198- to 220-pound weight class.

Tech. Sgt. Kenneth Cook, 60th Operations Group boom operator, talks about winning a power lifting medal Sept. 27 at Travis Air Force Base, California. (Senior Airman Jonathon Carnell/Air Force)
Tech. Sgt. Kenneth Cook, 60th Operations Group boom operator, talks about winning a power lifting medal Sept. 27 at Travis Air Force Base, California. (Senior Airman Jonathon Carnell/Air Force)

Cook, who weighs 218 pounds, first lifted 512 pounds as “just a warm-up,” he said in an Oct. 4 release from the Air Force. He followed up by easily lifting the previous world record.

His coach, Eric Cranage, said they then wanted to move on to 551 to raise "the bar so high it wouldn’t be broken again anytime soon.”

Cook let out “a huge roar of triumph to the dozens watching” after lifting the record-setting weight, securing first place, the release said.

A mid-size car’s engine block weighs about 500 pounds, the news release noted.

Tech. Sgt. Kenneth Cook, 60th Operations Group boom operator, displays a medal from the United States Powerlifting Association competition. (Senior Airman Jonathon Carnell/Air Force)
Tech. Sgt. Kenneth Cook, 60th Operations Group boom operator, displays a medal from the United States Powerlifting Association competition. (Senior Airman Jonathon Carnell/Air Force)

But Cook still isn’t satisfied. He wants to top 600 pounds and break another record in 2020.

“Right after I broke the record, I realized I could’ve done way more than I just did,” Cook said. “Next year, I will set another international record for sure. I’m just warming up.”