What Does PR Mean In Gym?

As a weightlifter, your priority is probably getting better at the fundamental lifts and gaining strength. And to do that, you need to push your limits in the gym.

One way to gauge your fitness and strength is called a PR. It’s a number you can use to track your progress and efficiently plan your workouts to get stronger.

So what does PR mean in the gym? How do you know your PR? And how can you improve it?

Read on to get answers to all these questions and more!

What Does PR Mean In Gym

What Does PR Mean?

In the gym, PR stands for “personal record.” Usually, this refers to lifting a heavier weight than you’ve ever done before. However, the term PR can also apply in several more situations.

Before I explain all the types of PRs, let’s get into why your PR is relevant in the first place.

Why Is A PR Important?

By tracking your PR on an exercise, you can see how your strength changes over time. Moreover, this measurement helps you figure out if your training and nutrition plan is working.

In addition, you can use your PR to determine how much you should lift at specific rep ranges. For example, doing sets with a weight between 70-80% of your PR results in maximum muscle growth (hypertrophy).

What Does PR Mean In Gym - Hypertrophy vs Strength

Different Types of PR in the Gym

There are several different ways you can set personal records in the gym. And even some PRs you can set outside the gym!

So let’s look at the various types of PRs.

One Rep Max PR

First, the most common type of PR in the gym is called your one-rep max or 1RM for short. Your 1RM is the heaviest weight you can lift for one repetition on a given exercise.

One way to determine your PR on an exercise is to incrementally increase the weight until you can’t lift it anymore. But this can be dangerous, especially if you’re new to weightlifting.

Another way to determine your one rep max is with a simple calculator. By entering the number of reps you can do for a given weight, the calculator finds your estimated 1RM.

One Rep Max Calculator


Gym PR vs Competition PR

You can get away with bad form or partial reps in the gym. But there are rules on what counts as repetition on squats, bench press, and deadlift in powerlifting competitions.

For example, bench press competition rules require you to pause with the bar on your chest until the judge says “press.” This pause eliminates momentum and makes the lift more challenging.

Similar rules apply for the squat and deadlift exercises. Therefore, a competition PR is generally less than a gym PR due to the strict form required.

What Does PR Mean In Gym - 1RM

As Many Reps As Possible PR

Another type of PR is called “as many reps as possible,” or AMRAP for short. This PR refers to the number of reps you can perform with a given weight before failing.

For example, you might max out at ten reps with 185 lbs on bench press before failing. Then, the next week you get twelve reps with 185 lbs. That would be a new PR for reps.

CrossFit PR

In CrossFit, workouts include timed circuits of resistance and endurance exercises performed in sequence. So you can set PRs for weight or reps, as well as for time.

Fitness PR

Finally, you can also set time PRs outside of the gym. Such as reaching your best pace in a cardio activity like running or cycling.

How To Improve Your PR In the Gym

Eventually, you’ll hit a plateau where you find it challenging to reach new personal bests. You need to dial in your training and nutrition to attain new heights. Here are 4 steps you can take to get stronger.

1. Perform Sets With Low Reps

Most exercises should be heavier weight for lower reps when training for power and strength. That means the highest weight you can do with perfect form for 4-6 reps.

Also, structure your workout split to ensure you get enough training volume while giving your body time to rest and recover.

2. Increase Your Calorie Intake

Your diet is another likely cause of training plateaus. If you’re not getting stronger, odds are you’re not eating enough!

As a rule, multiply your body weight by 20 to see how many calories you should eat to gain strength. For example, if you weigh 150 lbs, you should eat at least 3,000 calories per day (150 x 20 = 3,000).

Keep in mind, this is a very rough estimate, and caloric intake for strength gain depends on several factors, including your body composition, metabolic rate, and activity level. Click here to calculate your exact caloric needs for muscle gain.

3. Track Your Progress

Even if you feel like your workouts and diet are dialed in, you can benefit from tracking specific numbers. Writing things down helps you eliminate guesswork and verify you’re hitting your targets.

One way to track your progress is by logging your workouts in a notebook or app. Document your weights and reps on each exercise to see your progress week to week.

Tracking your nutrition is also accessible using apps like MyFitnessPal. Just enter the foods you eat, and the app calculates your daily calorie and macro breakdown.

4. Be Consistent

The last key to PR progress is consistency. In practical terms, that means not skipping workouts and sticking to your diet 90% of the time.

If you follow these simple guidelines, you will find it easier to achieve new personal records in the gym.

Gym PR Q&A

We’ve covered a lot so far. But you might still have questions about hitting PRs in the gym.

What does PB mean in the gym?

PB stands for “personal best.” You may hear it used interchangeably with PR in the gym. Both acronyms mean you’ve reached your best weight, number of reps, or time.

Do I need to do a one-rep max for a PR?

One rep maxes come with the risk of severe injuries like torn muscles or tendons. And the risk increases with age, overtraining, and lack of rest.

I know this because I completely ruptured my pectoral while attempting a one-rep max on the bench press. So now I rarely “max out” and use the one-rep max calculator instead!

On which lifts should I attempt a PR?

Usually, you track your one-rep max PR on compound exercises like the squat, bench press, and deadlift. Of course, you could max out on any exercise, but a 1RM on the calf raise machine doesn’t reveal much about your fitness!

That said, it’s good to track your rep PR on most of your primary exercises. Then try to increase the reps or the weight in each workout. This concept is called progressive overload.

How often should I attempt a PR?

On the core powerlifting exercises, it’s not a good idea to max out too often. The reason is that all-out efforts take a significant toll on your nervous system and can quickly lead to overtraining.

To prevent injury, you should limit 1RM PR attempts on heavy compound exercises to once a month at most. And give yourself adequate time to recover before and after each attempt.

Is it necessary to increase my PR to improve health & fitness?

While increasing your PR is an excellent way to increase strength and gain muscle size, it’s not required to be healthy and fit. Instead, how you train depends on your overall fitness goals.

For example, if your main priority is losing weight, you should focus more on burning calories and maintaining muscle. Or if you’re more concerned about health and longevity, then you don’t need to be pushing for maxes.

Should You Bulk or Cut?

Many people struggle with finding the right fitness goal. The proper goal depends on your current physique and your fitness priorities.

Whether you’re just starting or a seasoned weight lifter, it can be hard to know which direction to go. That’s why I created a free Bulk vs Cut quiz to help you choose the right fitness goal.

Now that you know what PR means in the gym, I hope you’ll check out some of my other helpful articles below. If you don’t find a topic that interests you, click on “load more” to see additional content!

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