T Nation

Can Someone Clarify the PR Set?


#1

For starters, yes I’m stupid. I just can’t seem to wrap my head around how the PR set is supposed to work. I get that if you do more reps this week than you did last week your stronger, but what I don’t get is the fact that the weight is higher week to week within the cycle due to percentages going up weekly and cycle to cycle due to raising your training max 5 or 10 pounds, so your never trying to beat a previous PR with the same weight. So if I do 200lbs for 10 reps on my 5’s week at 85%, then only get 9 reps at 210lbs on my 3’s week at 90%, how do i interpret that? Am i stronger for lifting 10 pounds more? Or weaker for getting less reps? I love this program for its simplicity, but this is the one part I just don’t get. Is it just a daily PR for that weight? Or is it a comparison to the previous PR sets? Or should I just shut the fuck up and train? Please someone explain this to me so I can get on with my life, its twisting my brain in knots.


#2

If you are pushing yourself, training hard, doing your conditioning, eating right and recovering well, there is no way you aren’t getting stronger. Don’t focus on comparing this week to last; compare this year to last year.

And with proper TM management, you will inveitably find yourself in a situation where you are using a weight you have used before. When that happens, you will note that you have become stronger.


#3

Its based on your estimated 1 Rep Max, so if you got 200lbsx10 one week thats an e1RM of 267lbs and then got 210lbsx9 the next week, then thats an e1RM of 270lbs which would be considered a PR.


#4

Both great answers, thanks guys. I’ll focus less on week to week and more on just hitting it hard, then if I need to know ill calculate the estimated 1rm and see where I’m at. Thanks again!


#5

I personally enjoy tracking PR’s and beat them in one or another weekly or several times a week. It’s not always a main lift PR, but I chase assistance, supplemental and conditioning PR’s as well. Assistance I just do something like shoot for 50 total reps in 3 sets. Conditioning is usually distance for time or how long it takes my heart rate to return to baseline after bouts. For main lifts you can either get an erasable marker board or make a spreadsheet chart and mark reps 1 through 10+ at the top. Write your weight in under the rep count. Say you benched 300 for 6 reps at one point a month ago and 310 for 6 reps today, you know you’ve gotten stronger. You’ll also come across certain poundages here and there. Glance at the chart and see you did 300x6 awhile back, shoot for 6+. PR beat. Just don’t sacrifice form and technique chasing them and you will be fine.


#6

You need to get/re-read the book/read 5+ of his articles here. From the chapter alone with his PR calculator it will be clear.


#7

A PR is an all time PR, not a PR for the month or 3 week span. If you do 210 for 9 reps then next time you do 210, whenever that is, months from now maybe then try to get 10 reps or more. If you do 531 long enough every weight will repeat itself eventually (except maybe some of the 85% weeks).


#8

If you must keep track - compare meso to meso.
Eg:
Meso 1 week 1 (5+) lets say you bench 220 8 times
Meso 2 week 1 (5+) you rep 225/230 8 times your stronger. If you rep over 8. Youre much stronger.

I’m only a few weeks in - but meso to meso comparison is where I think to key is. Making sure your 5+/3+/1+ numbers do not dip.


#9

Update to what I said, you have 2 ways to make a new PR.

You first do 200lb for 10

Next cycle you will have 205 or 210lb, if you do that for 10 reps its a new PR. And if anytime in the future you do 200lb again, you can go for 11 reps as a PR.


#10

That makes a lot more sense, thank you everybody who responded.


#11

these answers also made me realize I need to log my workouts better. I do keep a training log but I don’t think its as efficient as it should be to compare past PR’s , its kind of chicken scratched without much consistency from week to week.


#12

As said log your training.
There are kind of 3 different PR’s.
1: A real 1 RM where you lift a weight you never lifted before.
2: A Rep PR where your estimated 1RM gets higher.
3: A Rep PR where you bettered your previous Rep PR for that weight.

The first one is one you almost never do, because we train and do not test.
BUT maybe twice a year or if you compeed you do it.

The 2 others you chase every time you go for a Rep PR.
So find your old logs, write down all those Rep PR’s for every weight you’ve done.
This is where the real fun begins.
When you squat a 20 rep PR whith a previous PR at 18 or 19 reps. You’ll almost pass out, but you’ll do et with a big smile.


#13

This is only confusing because you don’t have the time in the gym to base anything off. Everything will make sense with time.

Just get into the habit of having a number in mind going into training and hitting it (be aggressive but not delusional).

The most important thing to learn is sometimes you won’t get the PR. You still need to show maximum effort and most importantly, not to shit the bed and throw all your planning away because you didn’t get what you wanted.


#14

That’s why it’s good to have a blackboard or spreadsheet to chart. I make note of PR’s in my log too. You can just glance at the chart and know where you are at at in the present. You can dig deeper in your logs to get a better view of what you were doing in training at that particular time in the past. Its easier to make correlations, when you have kept good logs and consider revisiting things that have worked well in the past if you are stuck in a plateau.


#15

I guess lack of experience is a key factor for me, after 8 months of stronglifts and starting strength I’m only in my fourth 531 cycle. I didn’t really realize that ill eventually be lifting a previous weight, I just figured the weights were always going up. I really like the idea of a separate log for PR’s, that way I don’t have to keep flipping through old logs. This was my first post here and I’m blown away with all the responses, again thanks to all who took the time to answer, its helped a ton.