What Does PR Mean In Weightlifting? (Real Weightlifter Opinions)

Getting into Weightlifting and Powerlifting can be confusing at first if you are a newbie at the gym. Or maybe you are in a lifting group online and you keep seeing things like new PR today and such.

doing my personal record pr

So What Does PR Mean In Weightlifting?

PR simply means “Personal Record” in weightlifting terms. The personal record is your heaviest weight lifted for a particular lift usually something like Bench, Squat or Deadlift. Those are the 3 main core compound lifts that most weightlifters live by. 

So for example lets say today I lift 600 lbs on my deadlift (someday hopefully) and that is the heaviest I have every done. That would be a PR for my deadlift that day.

PR Meaning In Weightlifting

PR does mean Personal Record in Weightlifting, but that Personal Record can be almost anything in Weightlifting. Meaning lets say you just 3 Rep Maxed 305 on your bench press that can be a personal record as well if that is the most you have done for that amount of reps.

When you are first starting out I would keep the PR's to a minimum because you will be hitting new PR's every week if you are working out correctly. Most people keep their Personal Records to the 3 main lifts that include Bench Press, Squat and Deadlift. From there you can go with cleans and even just dumbbells as well if you don't have barbells.

For example: If you hit 200 on your Bench press as a personal record that might not seem like much, but once you state that it was with Dumbbells that is a bit more of a feat there. So you would say something like PR DB Bench Press 200 1RM = Personal Record Dumbbell Bench Press 200lb 1 Rep Max.

What Is A PR In Lifting?

PR is just a standard to be used in lifting to measure your progress to achieve higher goals with the amount of weight you lift. That is why this term is used loosely. I love to lift and I honestly at this point don't max out that often because I don't have anyone to spot me in my home gym. So I cycle between light, medium, and heavy weights along with pyramids and such. So my PR's pertain to the amount of weight that I do for those reps and sets.

Everyone can use PR's differently, but they work great for tracking and you want to keep simple in the beginning. Losing weight for example can be tough you try to PR's with your weight loss, but it happens slowly for most especially after those first couple weeks. With PR's in weightlifting you can attain new achievements in the amount of weight you are pushing every week or two and keep it going for a long time. Once you reach a plateau you can either break through it or take a break and work on another lift.

PR's keep an individual motivated in many different ways. You can either just record the achievement for yourself or share it with your friends and even people in Facebook groups. There are standards for competitions and such, but we won't get into those right now. For beginners and until you get into competitions for powerlifting I wouldn't worry about standards I would worry more about progress and motivation.

Squat PR Meaning

Squat PR means your 1 rep max personal record for squatting the heaviest weight you ever have. Unless it is stated differently a personal record means 1 Rep Max meaning they did one rep with that weight which is the best they have ever done before.

PR also means using a standard Olympic barbell with standard Olympic weights unless otherwise stated. So let's say all you have is a Smith Machine then you would want to state PR Smith Machine Squat XXlbs 1RM

Where To Use PR In Lifting? (According To Other Real Lifters)

We didn't want you to only take our word for it so we went out and gathered the opinions of real lifters around the internet. We curated this information from weightlifting forums, sub reddits and facebook groups. So nothing has been changed except any spelling or grammar where needed.

Real Weightlifters

1. Tec5c “Use PR's anywhere” – You can hit a PR every session if you want. There are all kinds of PR's. If doesn't have to be a 1RM. It can be 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, oreven 10RM!!!!! It's a good way to stay motivated. Do an exercise you have never attempted before and it will be a PR.

2. WarlordZephyr “Use on small lifts if you want” – Even a small variation on a standard exercise like close grip bench.

3. Jammin179 “Every workout should be a PR” – Every workout should be a PR but not the heaviest weight you have lifted. If you did squats of 3 sets of 5 with 200 lbs last time, 2 sets of 5 and 1×8 with 200 is a new PR. Just keep making progress and do a small reset when you are unable to make progress 2-3 times in a row.

4. StuWard “Beginners will have every workout” – Beginners will have PRs every workout or two. Intermediates will have PRs every week or 2. I'm happy to get a PR once a year or so.

5. CircusCL “Everybody is different” – Everyone is different, but you can only expect a few months of very quick progress and PR rates on things like SS or SL. I think that I ran SS for about six months, four of which I took seriously. So I had about four solid months of constant weight PRs in the big lifts. After that it tends to be easier to set rep PRs, but even those get pretty hard. Point is to just train for something bigger than today, as Wendler tends to say.

6. Akintunde “Noob gains vs Intermediate gains much different” – This is of course very general. You could probably expect 0.5-1x, 0.85-1.15x, 1.35-1.75x and 1.8-2.2x to be around “normal” for how far noob gains will be for you, assuming you have perfect form. Extremely sedentary people would expect the low end, and people who tend to be athletic but with no weight intensity training could expect the higher end. This is where most people I know fall. This is by no means a scientific answer.


Going over weightlifters opinions they vary quite a bit on the use of PR in weightlifting. Around 30% believe they can be used for anything to keep you motivated. While around 47% think you should stick to the major compound lifts like Bench, Squat, and deadlift. We believe this is users choice and whatever it takes to keep you motivated and moving towards your lifting goals. You can always compromise with doing PR's for everything at first then as you start reaching plateaus dial it back a bit.

What Does Hitting A New PR Mean?

Hitting a new PR means you have hit a personal record for a certain lift. This will mean different things to different lifters depending on where they are in their journey. If you are just starting out you will be hitting new PR's every week and every workout. Once you reach a certain level those PR's will be hard to come back especially if you have setbacks like injuries which will make them much more meaningful.

So how often you should do PR's is up to you, but as you get more advanced I would wait at least every 4-8 weeks before attempting a 1RM PR.

Related PR Questions

What Is A PR At The Gym?

A PR at the gym simply means an unofficial personal record for a certain lift like bench, squat or deadlift. An official personal record would be at something like a sanctioned powerlifting meet with witness and it will actually be on the record.

What Does It Mean By 3 Sets Of 15 Reps?

When someone says 3 sets of 15 reps they are meaning you should do that specific exercise 3 times for 15 repetitions each. So for example lets say you are doing 3 sets of 15 reps with 135lb bench presses. You would bench the 135lbs 15 times before re-racking to take a rest period in between lets say 1 minute. After that one minute you would repeat that 15 reps again with the same weight to then take another 1 minute rest. Then you would complete the 3rd and final set for 15 reps just like the previous two at which time you would be done with that exercise.

Will 3 Reps Build Muscle?

3 Reps will build more muscle then if you have never done any reps however you won't really see much of a difference if only one set. If you are doing lots of sets with little rest in between the 3 reps then you will definitely break down that muscle much more creating more muscle growth over time. I wouldn't go with a 3 rep workout all the time, but it is okay to mix in with doing what we set with the sets.

Are Humans Meant To Lift Weights?

Humans are meant to lift weights and anything you put in front of them. We used to be hunters and foragers over the years building everything with our bare hands. Now as evolution has taken its place we have become softer unfortunately. There are a select few who push the limits and do what humans were meant to do which is lift and use their hands. Now most of us need exercise just to stay in any kind of shape. Yes humans are meant to lift weights.

Tab Winner

We are fun loving family that lives on a small farm and tries to be healthy. We are not fitness fanatics we are just trying to keep things simple especially with how busy our lives are. We have a few horses, a few dogs, and a young daughter along with a big extended family. Follow us on our journey. I hope you enjoy the website. If you have any questions, feel free to contact us. Please check back for updates!

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