What Does PR Mean in the Gym?

If you visit the gym a lot, a term that you might hear floating around is PR. For those who don't know, PR or a personal record is a term that you should familiarize yourself with as far as working out is concerned.

Today, we're here to figure out what a PR is, why achieving a good PR is important, and how to continuously improve your own personal record.


What Does PR Mean?

What Does PR Mean in the Gym?

The quick answer, PR in the gym means personal record sometimes called personal best (PB). Your personal record is a term that you use to determine what your highest level of performance on a specific exercise is.

For instance, a personal record could be the heaviest amount you've ever lifted on a specific exercise, whether shoulder press, bench press, or anything in between. However, a personal record doesn't just have to do with weightlifting.

A personal record could also have to do with cardiovascular exercise, such as achieving a fast time when running or cycling a certain distance. Remember that personal records are unique to each person, and they represent your peak endurance, speed, and strength at a specific time point.

Today, we're going to take a much closer look at personal records and why they're so important, as well as how to achieve better personal records every time you exercise.


Why PRs Are Important

Yes, a personal record is certainly something to aim for, and more than anything else, achieving a new personal record time after time again just makes you feel a whole lot better. Achieving new personal records provides you with a sense of confidence that you are progressing, and it shows you that your work is paying off.

It's something that helps motivate you to keep doing more and keep doing better. It's all about having motivation and goals that you can achieve. But by continuously setting the bar higher and higher, you push yourself to perform better week after week.

Speaking of progression, this is one of the biggest benefits that you get when keeping track of personal records, being able to track your progress.

If you lift 100 pounds on a bench lift one day and then lift 105 pounds the next week, then you've made a 5-pound progression over the course of a week, which you only know thanks to the fact that you've been keeping track of your PR's.

It's all about knowing how well and how fast you are progressing.

What many people may also not realize is that achieving personal records, or at least setting personal record goals for yourself, helps to keep you accountable.

Recording your personal records requires you to be honest and accurate when recording your stats, and this helps to encourage integrity and discipline all throughout your exercise routine.


How to Improve Your PRs

Of course, your number one goal is to continuously improve your personal records, so how do you do this?


1. Progressive Overload

Progressive Overload

One of the best ways to help you consistently break personal records is to incorporate the principle known as progressive overload into your workout routine. Progressive overload may sound complicated, but it's actually very simple.

It involves very slowly increasing the frequency, intensity, and volume of your exercises over a given amount of time. It’s all about slightly pushing your body past its comfort zone, just a little bit, which helps to stimulate muscle growth and increases overall strength.

No, this doesn't mean that you need to add 50 pounds to your lifts right off the bat, but rather, start by adding one or 2 pounds every time you work out. It's all about being slow and steady, or in other words, it's a marathon, not a sprint.


2. Consistency is Key

Consistency is Key

Speaking of weightlifting and exercise, in general, being a marathon and not a sprint, if you plan on continuously improving your personal records, this is the mind frame that you have to be in.

The fact of the matter is that when it comes to exercise, whether weightlifting, cardiovascular exercise, or anything in between, it's consistency that will provide you with the best gains.

It's a whole lot more beneficial to go to the gym for 45 minutes per day, five days per week, than it is to go for one long session that lasts for several hours.

Furthermore, it's better if you only go a few times per week, but you maintain this over a prolonged period of time, instead of starting out by going every single day, and then petering off and maybe only going once or twice per week, or not at all.

You need to remain consistent in your workout routine. Create a solid workout plan that dictates exactly when, where, and what you will work out, and what your goals are for every session.

This kind of consistency is one of the best ways that you can work towards continuously improving your personal records.


3. Don’t Forget to Rest

Don’t Forget to Rest

With all of the weight lifting and bar pushing that you're doing, one of the most important things that you might be forgetting is to rest. The simple fact of the matter is that rest is one of the most crucial aspects of muscle recovery.

In fact, the vast majority of muscle recovery happens while you are sleeping. It's recommended that you get around eight hours of sleep per night, although a minimum of six hours of sleep per night is an absolute must.

Now, resting doesn't only apply to sleeping well at night, but also to taking breaks or days off from the gym.

The reality is that while you are motivated you might want to exercise seven days per week, the fact is that this doesn't actually benefit the body.

Yes, there is such a thing as too much of a good thing, and working out is unfortunately one of these things.

You really shouldn't work out more than five or six days per week at the most. At the very least, you should give yourself one rest day every week, to give your body a chance to recover from all of that exercise you've been doing.

You'd be surprised just how better able you are to achieve personal records after a day or two of rest.


4. Nutrition Matters

Nutrition Matters

Just as important as sleep, if you plan on  blowing your personal records out of the water day after day, to get adequate nutrition.

Yes, protein is by far one of the most important factors here. It's recommended that you consume at least 1.2 grams of protein per kg of body weight, and up to 1.7 grams per kg.

This translates to between 0.5 and 0.8 grams of protein per pound of bodyweight. While many beginners may focus exclusively on protein intake, what expert bodybuilders and weight lifters know is this, you also need carbohydrates, healthy fats, vitamins, and minerals.

While protein is certainly the most important building block for your muscles, you can't ignore other macro and micronutrients, and the vital roles they play in building muscle as part of a balanced diet which is essential in helping you achieve your personal records.


5. Motivation Matters

Motivation Matters

While breaking your personal records has a whole lot to do with consistency and pure muscle power, you also need to be able to stay motivated.

Physical strength is important for achieving personal records, but your mental strength comes into play as well. This is especially the case when you hit that wall, that point where it feels like you just can't get past.

Sometimes you might struggle for a few days or even weeks before you manage to add a few pounds to your personal records.

The point here is that you need to stay tough and stick it out, because if you remain consistent, you sleep well, and you eat right, eventually you will break that personal record.

It might take some people longer than others, but realize that even a little bit of progress is a big deal, so don't let your motivation slip if you don't see yourself progressing for a few weeks or even months.

Everyone stagnates at one time or another, and it's simply about pushing past it. Stick with it!


6. Don’t Forget Proper Form

Don’t Forget Proper Form

A big issue that many people may experience, unknowingly, when trying to achieve personal records, is throwing all caution out the window.

By this, we mean that many people all of a sudden forget what proper form and technique are, and instead try to push as much weight as they can.

Remember, lifting less weight with proper form and technique is always better than lifting more weight with improper form and with no technique at all.

At the very least, you won't get the most out of the exercise if you don't follow proper form and technique, and worst case scenario, you could end up injuring yourself, and putting yourself on the sidelines for an extended period of time.


Achieving Personal Records in the Gym – Final Thoughts

The bottom line here is that if you remain consistent, you keep track of your progress, you eat and sleep right, and you use proper form and technique, you should be able to break your personal records week after week.

Author's Photo

William Parrett

Will, co-founder of Home Gym Supply, launched the company in 2019 after 15-years in the fitness industry. His expertise stems not only from his professional background but also from his athletic pursuits. A former competitor in the World Beauty Fitness & Fashion (WBFF) and a competitive rugby player, Will has always been dedicated to health and fitness.