Photo by Alison Gamble
I love the feeling of hitting a new PR. Achieving a personal record (PR) is one of the most motivating and exciting parts of consistent training. Not only do PRs keep us fired up and focused, but they are also a measurable way to mark improvement without comparing yourself to anyone else.
But whether you’re a recreational athlete or a serious competitor, many women want to know: how can I hit more PRs in my lifts? And while it does depend where you are in your journey (those who are newer to training may PR fairly regularly, while veteran lifters could go years between PRs), there are ways to ensure you continue to progress. Here, I provide you with the tools to help you on your way to achieving that next personal best.
Follow a Program
Following a progressive program is key to increasing strength and in turn, hitting that next PR. I recommend consulting a coach or trainer to help you develop a 6-12-week program that includes not only the primary lifts you want to improve, but appropriate accessory movements to build your strength. So for example, if you’re focusing on a squat PR, your program should also include split squats and hip thrusts to increase strength in supporting muscles. Stick to your program and complete the full cycle before you re-test your max!
Have a Pre-Lift Ritual
When attempting a big lift, it’s common to anticipate the heaviness and suddenly change your approach, hesitate, or lose confidence. The key to not psyching yourself out is learning to channel your adrenaline and energy into productivity—having a consistent pre-lift ritual or routine is a fantastic way to do that.
Your pre-lift ritual may be a specific breathing pattern, a quick visualization, a physical drill, or a choreographed approach to the bar—whatever helps you feel focused and confident going into the lift. Practice the same sequence each time in order to improve consistency on heavy lifts and PR attempts.
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Plan Your Attempt
Once you complete your training program, it’s time to put your work to the test! Plan your lift attempts or warm-up lifts in advance, decreasing the reps each set as you build in weight towards a PR lift. Here’s a sample warm-up sequence:
4 reps @ 60%
3 reps @ 70%
2 reps @ 80%
1 rep @ 90%
1 rep @ 95%
1 rep @ 98%
1 rep @ 101% PR!
Consistency in Other Areas
Working towards a PR takes commitment not only in your lifting program, but also outside the gym. Inadequate nutrition, rest, or recovery while asking your body to reach new physical benchmarks is like asking a car to drive on empty. Set yourself up for success with your lifestyle choices. Walk into each training session with the confidence of knowing you’ve given your body all it needs to excel.
As you approach your new max, feel things out, listen to your body, and stay confident. A positive outlook and an empowered mindset will be essential to hitting those new PRs.