What Does PR Mean In Weightlifting?

When you first start weightlifting and powerlifting, you’re likely to come across new terms that you don’t understand. Most of these will be easy to learn, but in some cases it might take a while to get to grips with the lingo. As long as you’re lifting right, knowing the correct term isn’t always important.

One thing you might hear a lot, especially when you start out, is PR. PR simply means personal record, and it’s a way of celebrating achievements, and setting goals.

To learn more about PR, and how useful it is for your development as a weightlifter, read this guide.

What Does PR Mean In Weightlifting

What Does PR Mean In Weightlifting?

PR in weightlifting is simply a term used to describe a personal record. It typically refers to the heaviest weight lifted, or the number of reps.

There can be many confusing terms for a beginner to weightlifting, but PR shouldn’t be one of them. If you hear someone discussing their PR, they’re talking about a new record they’ve set for themselves.

Setting A PR In Weightlifting

As you might have guessed from the name, personal record, or PR, is a personal decision. It’s down to you to decide what your records are, and how you hope to improve. Typically, weightlifters set a new PR when they increase the number of reps.

When you first start weightlifting, it’s going to be easy to set new personal records. And it’s tempting to celebrate each and every win as a new achievement. If you’re training right, you might find you hit a new personal record every week.

But you’ll soon find that these PRs start to drop off, and eventually you’ll go for long periods without a new record. This can be disheartening, and you might be tempted to blame it on your training.

Realistically, it’s just the way it is. Achievements come fast when you’re starting out because everything is an improvement. In time, you’ll have to really work to improve your PR. These records may become rare, but they’re much more significant.

Keeping your PRs to a few categories - such as deadlift, bench press, and squat - can give you a more realistic idea of your achievements.

Overall, PRs are personal to you, so it’s up to you to find a system that works. If celebrating every small achievement keeps you motivated, then you might benefit from keeping track of every PR. Or you might find it works best to set a major goal, and work towards that. 

PR And Lifting

Personal records are a great way to track your progress, and they can often keep you motivated during tough periods. Over time, as you settle into your routine, you may find you need PRs for motivation less and less. 

With lifting, you may choose to try a PR for the number of reps you can do with a certain weight. At the start, these records will build up quickly. The more you improve, the more likely you are to hit a plateau. Then, a new record will feel like a massive achievement.

Another thing to track is how much you can lift. Again, this will go up quickly at first, and then plateau out. You can try for different records with different lifts.

Some people use weightlifting for weight loss. In that case, when they speak about PR, they might refer to their weight loss goals. As you can see, setting a PR should really be based on your own specific goals and achievements. 

Squat PR

If you hear someone referring to their squat PR, this refers to the maximum weight squatted for one rep. So, they achieved one rep with a weight heavier than any before. Typically, the squat PR is achieved with a standard Olympic barbell and standard Olympic weights in olympic style weightlifting. Check out our guide here on what an olympic weightlifting is and how to correctly perform it.  

Is PR Only Used In Lifting?

Personal records are used all across the gym, they aren’t only used for weightlifting. PR is a helpful way of measuring achievements, and that might refer to how much you lift, how fast you go, or how long you kept it up for. 

Crossfit trainers regularly refer to PR, and they might measure achievements in many ways. 

Sanctioned And Unsanctioned PR

At the gym, discussing PR is a common way to monitor training. In many cases, PR is solely a personal achievement. A weightlifter will keep up their own records, set their own goals, and decide what they consider an achievement.

This would be considered an unsanctioned PR. It hasn’t been observed in a competition setting, and there’s no real rules for what counts. If you see something as an achievement, you can consider it an unsanctioned personal record.

Sanctioned PR is different again. This is a record that will have been set at a competition or meet, and will have been observed by an official. A sanctioned PR will have to meet a certain set of criteria — it has to reach competition standards.

This will refer to how the bar is lifted and held, with strict timings and distinctions. These standards will vary depending on the lift.

When someone at the gym is talking about their PR, they’re probably referring to an unsanctioned PR. But if it’s a lifter who goes to meets, then they may have an official PR.

When a lifter breaks their sanctioned PR in the gym, it doesn’t count as a new record. Of course, they can still be proud of the achievement. But without an official to observe, it will remain an unsanctioned PR.

Should You Set A PR?

A personal record is a fantastic way to monitor achievement, but it isn’t necessary. However, you should keep track of your reps and weights, so you can improve consistently.

PRs tend to come fast at the start, and then slowly plateau. After a while, you might find you only hit a PR once a year, if that. PRs shouldn’t be the sole focus of your workout. Instead, they should be a way to recognize achievement, while you build up a weightlifting regimen that works for you.

Kevin Harris