In the fitness world, PRs (Personal Records) refer to your best performance on a certain exercise. PRs could refer to your 1-rep max, 2-rep max, 3-rep max and so on, but the most common PR that lifters love to measure is their 1-rep max, and you will get to know in a bit why it’s very important to keep increasing your 1-rep max.
In most gym settings, you will find people attempting and hitting PRs only to show off or to boost their egos. However, there are better reasons to train for PRs.
For starters, PRs help you gauge how good you are at certain exercises and how well you fare against other humans. Your 1-rep max PR is basically your breaking point, meaning it measures the maximum load you can lift without breaking yourself.
While a PR may seem like a “good-to-know” number and nothing more, effectively training for PRs can help you get stronger much faster in the long run.
The concept here is simple. Hitting a new PR gives you a confidence boost that you can lift that much weight on an exercise. So, when you go back to your regular workout weight, you will be able to progress more easily since you know that you have lifted something heavier in the past.
This is especially useful if you are in the process of linear progression and are having a difficult time increasing weight on an exercise. Not only that, if you are out of the gym for some time, it will be much easier to progress to your PR when you get back since your body knows that it has already done it before.
It’s really so much easier going into an exercise knowing you’ve lifted something as heavy or heavier in the past, as opposed to attempting to lift something you’re not sure you can handle. This happens because PRs give you that boost in willpower for your next workouts without you even realizing it, and this boost occurs because your mind and muscles know that:
If you did it before, you can do it again.
Scientifically speaking, this also has something to do with a special type of muscle memory. Whenever you hit a new PR, you shock your muscles with high amounts of stress that the muscles have never encountered before. The human body is very smart, and due to this your muscles will adapt and be ready to face that same amount of stress again.
Why and how should you be attempting new PRs more often?
Don’t attempt PRs only when you feel like or when you’re having a showdown with your bros, rather utilize PRs to help you get stronger faster. Attempt PRs more often but not too frequently that you start burning out.
To give you an idea, here’s a sample deadlift workout I used a long time ago in which I utilized 1-rep max PRs to increase weight on my 5-rep sets of deadlifts.
I did deadlifts twice a week during this time, and believe me I was feeling stronger than ever.
275lbs 1×1 (PR)
280lbs 1×1 (PR)
and so on…
See the pattern? Because I was having a hard time increasing my 3×5 weight, I added a 1 rep PR at the end of my deadlift workout in order to give me the confidence and power boost to increase 5lb the next time I do my 3×5 workout. Note however that I only did those 1 rep sets once a week, if I did them twice a week I’d probably burn out and this strategy would not have worked.
This was something that worked for me and I did this for about 2 months before it became hard to hit NEW PRs consistently. It’s going to be different for everyone depending on your goals and on the exercise.
The point is, one can definitely optimize strength gains by effectively attempting and hitting PRs more frequently. After all, you get stronger when you push yourself to your limits, and hitting new PRs enable you to do exactly that.
What’s the fun in getting stronger and better alone? If you liked this post, go ahead and share it with your friends. Let’s get stronger together!