what does pr mean in the gym

What Does PR Mean In The Gym?

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For some people, going to the gym is just a hobby. Other people make a career out of this, such as powerlifters or bodybuilders, but for those who are not genetically gifted to compete at a higher level but are passionate about lifting weights, keeping track of progress and improving training sessions are important things for many reasons.

There are a lot of terms used in the gym that refer to the intensity of an exercise, but these can be quite difficult for people who are not yet familiar with the world of fitness to understand.

In today’s article, we’ll discuss one of the most popular terms of this kind: PR.

What Does PR Mean In The Gym?

PR is the acronym for “personal record”. In the gym, hitting a personal record means that you managed to do one repetition with a weight that you have never lifted before, usually for a compound exercise, such as bench press, deadlift, squat, or overhead press. (but it can also be used for other exercises). A PR can also mean exceeding the maximum number of repetitions you have done with a certain weight.

Examples of PRs in the gym:

  • Your best bench press is 300 lb for a rep. If you manage to do a rep with 305 lb, it’s a personal record.
  • Your best deadlift is 400 lb for 4 reps. If you manage to do more than 4 reps with 400 lb, it’s a personal record.

Why It’s Important To Hit New PRs?

Hitting PRs sounds pretty great, right? But why is it important to hit new PRs over time? There are two main reasons: motivation and progress.

How can a PR motivate you? Let’s think this way. If you compete in powerlifting, a PR can be a confirmation that you are on the right track and proof of progress, which can help you be mentally prepared for the competition. If you don’t compete, but you’re still a fan of heavy lifting, hitting personal records in the gym can boost your confidence and make you enjoy the process.

For those whose main goal is muscle hypertrophy, personal records can be seen as a form of progressive overload, which is essential for muscle growth. Remember, you don’t have to work in the low-rep zone to hit a PR.

A personal record is a reward for your hard work. It is proof that there is still room for progress, although for experienced athletes this can mean even a few extra pounds or an extra repetition. However, it is unrealistic to seek new PRs every training session, unless you are a beginner.

Gym PR Vs Competition PR

When we lift in the gym, we basically make our own rules regarding a PR. The foot placement, the speed, or the lifting accessories used, all depends on you. 

You are free to use lifting straps, knee wraps, wrist wraps, knee sleeves, any kind of lifting shoes or belt. However, in powerlifting competitions, things change a little.

Just to clarify things, a PR in a competition means exactly what it means in the gym, but with stricter rules.

The rules include squatting below parallel, using a “thumbs around” grip for the bench press, and locking the knees for the deadlift. 

There are many more lifting requirements as well as rules on lifting accessories and other things. In addition, for each attempt, athletes have to wait for the signals of the Chief Referee, which makes things more complicated. 

Therefore, a PR obtained in the gym is very difficult, if not impossible, to reproduce in a powerlifting competition.

How To Keep Track Of Your PRs

To know your PRs, you need to keep track of your workouts.  There are many phone apps for this, but you can also create a workout log using Microsoft Excel. If you are old school, a notebook and a pen will do the job.

Tracking your workouts is very important if you want to progress over time, but it can also be a good reminder of your PRs. Moreover, you can keep track of the days you achieve them.

PR vs 1RM

What’s the difference between PR and 1RM? 1RM is the acronym for “one-repetition maximum ” and refers to the maximum weight with which you can do one repetition. Not every 1RM needs to be a PR. We need to consider other details such as motivation, equipment, energy, rules, or weight.

For example, suppose your bench press PR is 250 lb. This was achieved when you weighed 200 lb. A year later, you weigh 170 lb, 30 less than the year before. You want to test your bench press, but because of the circumstances (weight difference), you only manage to do a rep with 240 lb. This is your 1RM for the moment. It’s not a PR because your all-time best was 250 lb for one rep.

Other Commonly Used Acronyms

As a new gym enthusiast, you’ll hear a lot of specific terms that might confuse you at first, but it won’t be long before you start using them. Some acronyms may sound strange, so we’ll try to explain a few here.

AMRAP - As Many Reps As Possible

A technique that involves doing as many repetitions as you can with a certain weight, usually with good form. It’s also used to determine your strength level in other rep ranges.

RPE - Rate Of Perceived Exertion

An indicator of the difficulty of a set on a scale of 1 to 10, with 10 meaning muscle failure.

ROM - Range Of Motion

The range of motion of an exercise is the distance traveled by the weight at each repetition.

LSRPE - Last Set Rate Of Perceived Exertion

This term is similar to RPE but refers to the last set of an exercise.


PRs are important for weight lifters, whether we are talking about competing athletes or keen beginners. They can be an excellent source of motivation as well as a reward for hard work and consistency. Important PRs are hard to forget, but tracking your progress is a good habit that can help you reach your goals faster.