What Is a PR in Fitness

It can be hard to keep track of all the acronyms and abbreviations in the fitness world sometimes. One of the common phrases is “what’s your PR?”. A PR refers to an individual’s personal best at the gym or any other activity, usually a physical activity, but not always limited to it. The maximum number of reps that you lifted a certain weight can be as heavy as the weight you lifted for a particular exercise.


In the gym, PR refers to the best weight (most) you have lifted for the given parameters. This can be the same regardless of the type of exercise you are doing. When people talk about big lifts, they usually toss around the acronym. The term can also refer to isolation exercises, including bicep curls, jump distances, sprints, or even the length of time it takes to run one mile. The point of this article, however, is to answer the question, “What does PR mean in weightlifting?”. Below are a few examples:

  • Until now, you’ve only been able to squat 225 pounds per rep. Whenever you can get to 230 pounds, that’s a new personal record.
  • It is possible to perform five repetitions of 120 pounds on the bench press. A month later, you can perform six repetitions of 120 pounds, which is a personal record.

A PR in the gym could be achieved by lifting more weight than in the past, or by doing more repetitions with the same weight that you previously achieved.


Before testing your PR, you should be appropriately warmed up, mentally and physically prepared and have an idea of what you’re aiming for.

You should warm up as mentioned above if you have a PR based on a low number of reps or just one rep so that you can lift a heavy load. Don’t start out with a set of 10 reps at 50% and then try a 3-rep PR. Let your muscles get ready for testing. If you have never lifted a volume before, you should have a spotter present to support you. If you are unable to lift the weight, you can also use a safety hook or catch to act as a fail-safe in some exercises. Motivating and encouraging your training partner could also be done with the help of a spotter.


Make Sure You Do a Variety of Exercises:

Using a variety of exercises to set a new PR for a specific exercise may seem counterintuitive. Focus on the exercise that you want to break your PR. However, be sure that you are performing lifts that recruit similar muscle groups so that you can improve your overall strength. You might want to incorporate some incline/decline presses, pullovers, close grip presses, and shoulder presses into your workout program if you want to achieve a new PR for bench press.

Warming Up Properly:

It is always a good idea to do a proper warmup before trying to achieve new PRs. A proper warmup should be enough volume to prepare you for attempting a new PR, but not too much so you become fatigued before you attempt it.

Decide on Your Goals:

It’s hard to break your PRs if you don’t begin by setting goals. Progressive overload is the key to weightlifting. As you increase the volume you lift, you will become stronger. It is best to set specific goals that are realistically achievable and can be measured. For example, a 165-pound PR won’t work for you if you set a 300-pound PR a month later. Goals should be set within a timeframe that keeps you motivated and on track. Avoid setting long-term goals that will be hard to achieve. A timeframe of 1-3 months usually works well when setting personal records.

Make Sure You Try Often:

You don’t always hit new PRs when you try them, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t try more often to hit new ones. Just because you set realistic goals doesn’t mean you shouldn’t. You only had 12 attempts to hit a new PR in a year if you only attempted a PR once a month. Some of those attempts might be failures, making it even less likely that you will break your PR. Try to break your PRs almost every workout. It is best to PR on the number of reps lifted of that exercise in a previous workout, not on one rep. In the case of deadlifts, say you can do ten reps at 190 lbs tomorrow, you might want to try eleven reps at 190 lbs or even 200 lbs at ten reps the next workout.

Maintain a Progress Log:

By keeping a record of your workouts, you can hold yourself accountable while motivating yourself to see what you’re capable of. Tracking your progress in the gym lets you see where you started and how far you’ve come. As well as marking successes and failures, you should keep a complete picture of your weightlifting journey so you can stay focused and see that victories are likely to follow failures.

Maintain a Positive Attitude:

Failure is a part of life and fitness, so don’t get discouraged if you don’t hit a new PR. You will succeed if you have a positive attitude and a good work ethic. Fitness and health are not a 100-meter sprint; they are marathons that go up and down throughout our lives. The keys to success in life and fitness are positivity and consistency.

What to Eat:

In science, diet plays a vital role in our overall health. We are learning more and more about the importance of diet. Assuming you’re here because you want to set new PRs, it would be best to eat a well-balanced diet that includes protein, fat, and carbs. Setting new PRs is less likely if you’re on a diet or in a caloric deficit. Your body might not have the fuel to push you past the finish line if you’re cutting.


Quality sleep is essential to muscle and strength gain. Poor sleep can lead to poor performance in the gym. Sleep allows our bodies to recover and is vital for muscle protein synthesis and growth hormone release. Try to get 7-9 hours of shut-eye every night!

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