When you’re in the gym, you might hear people use the word “PR” more than once. You might also notice that, when people use this term, they’re usually excited or pumped up. But, what exactly does PR mean in the gym? Read on to learn more.
What Does a PR Mean
PR, or Personal Record, is a reference to a person specific to the movement, task, or tasks in which they are doing. PRs should be objective for their reference of measure of deciding what is impactful to measure is entirely a subjective decision. For example, “ I was able to make it to the gym 24 days this month. That’s a PR!“ we love that measurement and accountability to your own self-care.
Why Do Personal Records Matter?
PRs are important because they allow each individual to benchmark themselves against what is important for THEM. We can all agree that time is extremely precious in our lives.
Ensuring that what we are choosing for our wellness outlet is in fact making a return on our investment of time is nice to know. Not every individual is going to be motivated by strength gains, increases in speed or decreases in waist size or bodyweight. Individualizing our PR’s creates a unique accountability system that can provide an immense amount of motivation especially when things appear frustrating or futile.
How to Test Your PR
When testing your PR it’s just important to choose a metric that is consistently measurable. No matter the goal, just ensure that you can replicate the conditions each time you decide to measure to ensure a fair and adequate retest.
Types of PR
The types of PR’s are quite literally infinite. Popular examples include:
- Number of push-ups without stopping, number of TRX Rows without breaking
- Length of time to run 2 miles
- Total time being able to jump rope without a mistake
- Maximum amount of weight you can lift for a particular exercise
- The number of steps taken in a week or the length of time it takes to complete a specific workout
Weight PR or 1 Rep Max PR
When testing a one rep max with a ‘traditional lift’ there are a lot of things to keep in mind and always proceed with safety.
- Always have a spotter and spotter arms with you/on the rack for protection.
- You want to be adequately “warmed up” prior to making an attempt but you also want to avoid excessive fatigue. Doing calisthenic warm-up movements and submaximal sets of the exercise is imperative so that your muscles, joints, and nervous system are prepared for the new maximum load.
- While performing the submaximal sets on your way towards your new max, move slowly and effectively throughout the entire range of motion. Spend time on attention to the specifics of the range of motion and avoid rushing through a set of eight or 10 reps. It is better to perform 2 to 4 reps of an exercise slowly with proper form and control the weight space to prepare your body.
Once you get within 80% of your attempted max weight, we recommend the following techniques
- Only perform one rep but do it as if it is the maximum load. “Respect the weight”
- Rest at least three minutes between successive attempts at moving weight. Between the adrenaline and energy pumping in your body, you’ll feel ready to move but your central nervous system NEEDS more time to recover for the next set.
- C) Once you get to 89/90% of your attempted maximal weight, do not increase more than 3 to 4% with each passing attempt. The nervous system will become too overwhelmed with a large increase this close to your max. This will induce failure which may not be indicative of your true strength.
For anyone that is not motivated by moving a large amount of weight, they might find themselves looking to increase the number of repetitions they are able to perform at any static weight.
An example can be the number of times they are able to front squat 135 lbs. Probably the most famous example of this technique is the NFL Combine 225 Bench press test. Every single player who is looking to play in the Nation Football League is benchmarked, pun intended, against this test.
A competition PR has all the same characteristics as a PR but under very specific conditions, during a competition itself. Utilizing the aforementioned example of the 225 bench. An athlete may have an all-time personal record of 23 reps but when performing at a ‘test day’ or at the combine itself the max number of repetitions achieved was 21. These two scores may differ slightly when comparing a Personal Record to a Competition Record.
Tips on Hitting More PRs
Hitting more PR‘s in the gym is a question often received by our coaches. The answer we cannot emphatically exclaim loud enough is REST. Pushing yourself to new limits is an amazing testament to physical ability and mental fortitude. It’s also important to understand the toll that this takes on the joints, the central nervous system, and our endocrine system.
If we are constantly pushing ourselves to maximal output without the appropriate amount of rest, there will inevitably be a breakdown. It’s always great to challenge one’s own self. It’s also mission-rcritical to understand that our fitness routine supplies the stimulus but rest and recovery are what cause the body to make the change.
On top of our advice to rest between sessions at the gym, here are some other tips for hitting more PRs.
1. Set Your Goals
Think of what has you motivated right now but also something that you feel you’ll remain motivated in the weeks to come. We always suggest focusing on behavior for long-term success. If you’re having difficulty placing an objective measure around this behavior, this is a great time to speak to a coach. Setting PRs is something that’s going to take continued commitment throughout our lives. Weather, time of year, work fluctuations, special events, holidays, etc. Setting realistic goals is imperative.
2. Maintain a Healthy & Balanced Diet
Maintaining a balanced and healthy diet is EXTREMELY critical. Anytime an athlete is pushing their body to a new limit and setting a new PR, they are challenging all the body’s systems to a different degree. This is going to require vital vitamins and nutrients on a cellular level to maintain proper function and continued success in the gym. Eating a diet rich in whole foods and keeping up with your water intake is always our highest recommendation.
3. Do a Variety of Exercises With Your PR in Mind
Varying your exercise routine isn’t just smart, it’s critical. If your PR is surrounding the squat, make sure that you’re also actively involved in single-leg movements like lunges and additional core training. If your goal is endurance related, make sure that you’re choosing exercises to maintain great postural and pelvic strength. Mobility training should remain a high priority to both examples above. Placing focus and energy on only one area of wellness may lead to an unhealthy balance of the entire system.
4. Get the Proper Amount of Sleep
Getting the appropriate amount of sleep is something that cannot be stressed enough. The average adult needs between 7 to 8 hours of quality sleep per night to adequately recover from any type of rigorous exercise.
Prioritizing sleep must be at the forefront of each and every athlete's wellness plan. Without restorative sleep, the body is unable to recover between successive exercise sessions. Therefore, the hard work you’re putting into at the gym isn’t actually affecting your body’s systems on a cellular level. Exercise is the catalyst but sleep is the magic.
5. Work Past the Failures
You’re going to fail. You’re going to have moments in life where you get sick, miss the gym, re-attempt this personal record, and fall short. It’s all part of the process. It’s always important to understand this is part of the growth curve and you need to remain objective upon reflection.
It’s OK to get irritated but work through that quickly and allow it to invigorate you. You may not have beaten your PR THIS time but all that amazing work and dedication you’ve put into your wellness to get here is amazing! “Either you win or you learn”
What Does PR Mean in Weightlifting?
Achieving a new PR in any particular weightlifting activity is the result of an amazing amount of work and dedication. It is also going to result in a readjustment in the workouts for all submaximal exercises. The workout that had you squatting a particular amount of weight for six repetitions is no longer valid. That workload should be adjusted as a percentage of the new PR that you just sent, congratulations! Hard work paid off.
Gym PR vs. Competition PR
These two can be frustratingly different for any athlete. If you are unable to achieve a NEW PR or come close to your PR during a competition event, we suggest that you replicate the competition you’re training for. When an individual is successful in their home gym, with their chosen playlist, barbell, friends, and time of day, it feels great. But, are any of these playing into your misses on competition day?
We suggest that you attempt to exercise at the same time of the day as the competition. Do not use your favorite squat rack or barbell. Play a playlist you do NOT find motivating. There are many ways to disturb the process and raddle the conditions. Start here to potentially unlock some new competition PRs.
Start Working Towards Your New PR Today!
The work any individual puts in towards a new Personal Record should be celebrated! You’re working to achieve a new level of fitness & wellness that previously did not exist.
Although we always suggest keeping objective measures on your PR tracking and goal setting, don't sell yourself short on a celebration and some loud claps for your efforts. Progress is progress and movement is medicine! We at TRX thank you for your continued commitment to your personal wellness journey and for being a champion for change. “Make Your Body Your Machine”.
The 300 workout. Men’s Health. (2022, August 10). https://www.menshealth.com/fitness/a19536290/muscle-building-10/
Official site of the National Football League. NFL.com. (n.d.). https://www.nfl.com/combine/