You walk into the gym. Hot tracks are playing, you’re rested, you remembered all your gear, and your feeling good. You decide it’s time to get under some heavyweights. They’re flowing well and feel light, so your keep adding. It’s getting heavy, but with everything going so right, you want to see where this goes. Suddenly you have hit a new all-time PR—success, a breakthrough, proof that all of your hard work is paying off.
Every PR is a milestone, a sign of growth, of perseverance, but it isn’t necessarily the weight you want to use when calculating your weights on the next training cycle. A PR is a weight or time that you hit when all conditions are perfect; your form may not have been great, but you completed it, and you might not be able to hit every time you come in.
Your one-rep max is a little different. It is probably just a little lighter or slower than your PR, but it is a weight or time you can hit consistently 90% of the time with proper form and technique. No matter the conditions, you could warm up and perform it consistently.
When we calculate our training goals off of our one-rep max, we ensure that when we break down the percentages and rep schemes, they can be performed with the same eye to proper form and technique.
For some people, your one-rep max and your PR may be the same, and that’s ok.
Having a max-out day is fun and sometimes a little frightening. It’s a great day to see your progress and celebrate with others, both about your new max and theirs. It can also be stressful to think about what your weights should be and how you will perform. Don’t worry; no matter how you perform, try your best. The new totals will help set the goals and programming for your next fitness or lifting cycle. Remember, like life, fitness is a never-ending cycle of growth and maturation.