When lifting weights, there are 3 main ways to PR.*
“PR” means to set a new personal record.
For the majority of lifters, the most sought after PR is the 1RM (1 Rep-Max). This is the maximum amount of weight that can be lifted a single time for a given exercise. If you take your max bench press from 80lb to 95lb - your PR bench used to be 80, but is now 95.
You don’t necessarily have to push a higher weight to PR. You can set new repetition, or rep PRs. This is the number of repetitions that can be completed at any given weight, for any given exercise. If during your last training cycle you could squat 275 for 8 reps, and your current cycle has you squatting 275 for 10, you have established a new rep PR (for 275lb). The convenient thing about rep PRs is that they can be set for every single weight. This gives you more opportunities to set new ones.
The type of PR that is most overlooked, yet the easiest to make is a volume PR.
Volume = Sets x Reps x Load (weight).
Calculating and tracking your volume can be complicated if you want it to be. Because of this, I typically only consider the total volume for the main lift of each training session.
Here is a very simple way to ramp up volume over a relatively short period of time…
Let’s say that today you deadlifted for 5 sets of 5 using 135lb for all five sets. That would put you at 3,375lb worth of volume. The next time you deadlift, you could increase your volume by doing everything the same, except for bumping up the weight to 145lb on only your fifth set. That would give you 3,425lb worth of volume. The next time you deadlift after that, you could boost your volume again by using 135 for your first three sets, then 145 for your remaining two. That would be 3,475lb worth of volume, and you would have volume PR’d three deadlift sessions in a row. Continuing to fill your working sets with heavier and heavier weights will get you stronger over time.
As you see in the above example, it is very feasible to set new volume PRs and it is something you can do pretty quickly and regularly.
*There is another “type” of PR that I use. It opens up your PR setting possibilities even further, and I will write about it in another post (once I can come up with a name for it, or figure out if there is already a name for it).