#363 – Why Programming Frequent PRs Matters

Matt talks to Niki about a refinement of MED principles and how frequent PRs play into the ultimate goal of improving people’s quality of life and reaching & surpassing their goals.


At Barbell Logic, we’re really oriented toward the vast majority of people who want to improve their quality of life, and strength and the process of getting stronger can help them. This doesn’t mean these people can’t get seriously strong, but it means we’re not focused on world records or mimicking methods of the world’s strongest people.

Because quality of life and reaching clients’ goals are really our purpose, PRs have to connect to this purpose. It can’t just be about 1RMs and the typical PRs. We need to tie together consistency, form, quality of life, and PRs.

First, programming consistent progress & PRs matters for EVERYBODY. People who train consistently and don’t have monkey wrenches of injury or exorbitant life stress should be progressing consistently, and they can progress every single workout.

Part of this came from seeing different set & rep schemes graphed on the new BLOC App, which some BLOC clients are using and to which more will be transferred soon. Matt realized that clients who weren’t facing extreme life stress & injury were making volume PRs EVERY SINGLE WORKOUT.

PRs are an objective way to demonstrate progress. Even people who don’t agree with Barbell Logic’s philosophy or programming agree that stress needs to increase over time to continue to progress. PRs demonstrate objective, quantifiable demonstrations of progress, and expanding PRs beyond the 1RM helps show that it’s not just improvement every couple or few months (especially for more advanced lifters) but that you’re doing more consistently. It shows that stress has gone up and that you can handle more stress and that you’re stronger.

It’s both about objectivity and a changed mindset. It’s about not only seeing the progress, but about looking for it beyond the typical PRs that most people track (1RMs, 3RMs, 5RMs).

So, what PRs can we track (remembering that it’s about quality of life and reaching goals)?

  • weight on the bar
  • volume
  • tonnage
  • different equipment (straps, no straps, belt, no belt, different types of bars)
  • consistency PRs (if you struggle with this)
  • frequency PRs (squat slots in a week or month)
  • post-X PRs (post weight loss PRs, post-40 PRs, post-injury PRs)
  • metrics
The little wins matter–find those little wins and point them out and celebrate them. Sometimes the everyday grind can obfuscate how far we’ve come and how much better we are than we were before. By expanding what a PR is, we can help maintain and even increase motivation and see and celebrate our progress toward improved quality of life.

Another thing to mention, of course, is that some people can push this gamification too far and can get neurotic and unhealthy in a different direction. If this is you, you might need to modify PRs–maybe consistency PRs or other measures that don’t drive a neurosis.The final point is that, of course, life happens. You’ll get injured or sick, life stress happens, and during this time you may have to redefine what PRs are. Focusing on consistency may matter. Focusing on time spent with family may be something you track.

Broaden the definition of PRs to ensure PRs demonstrate the clients’ moving toward their goals. What we measure matters. Measuring and stressing the 1RM might not matter that much for all clients, but we can identify and measure PRs that DO matter for clients, and we can ultimately help drive progress for the things that these clients value.




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