How to hit a new PR: Best Way to Test Your 1RM

Written by the Boostcamp staff
Last Updated: Apr 14,20237 min read

Preparing for a personal record (PR) lift, whether it's a squat, bench press, or deadlift, requires careful preparation and attention to detail. It's not just about showing up at the gym and hoping for the best. This article will guide you through the steps to help you prepare for a successful PR lift, from your pre-gym routine to the actual workout.

Pre-Gym Preparation

Nutrition and hydration

Start preparing for your PR lift at least the night before. Eat a big, carb-heavy dinner and ensure you are well-hydrated. Continue to eat nutritiously and hydrate throughout the day leading up to your workout, with a focus on consuming enough sodium and carbs to fuel your body.

Sleep for a new PR

Make sure to get a good night's sleep the night before your workout. This will help ensure your body is well-rested and ready for the demands of a heavy lift.

Meal Prep (Powerlifting) : r/MealPrepSunday

Warmup for a new PR

Warmup exercises

Before beginning your PR lift, perform a thorough warmup to activate your muscles and loosen up your body. For deadlifts and squats, this may include banded rows, glute-ham raises, good mornings, or walking with a hip circle. For bench press, this may include tricep extensions, lat pulldowns, and explosive push-ups. The specific warmup exercises will depend on your chosen lift and personal preferences.

Consistent technique

As you perform your warmup sets, pay close attention to your technique. Approach each set with the same intensity and focus as if it were your PR lift. This will help build good habits and ensure that your technique remains consistent as the weight gets heavier.

Weight jumps

Plan your weight jumps during warmup sets strategically. You should have a target weight in mind for your PR lift, and the jumps should make sense based on that goal. Make sure to take the same weight jumps each time you work up to your target weight in order to become familiar with the process.

Mental preparation

Stay focused and calm during your warmup sets. Avoid getting overly excited or nervous as this can affect your technique. Channel your excitement internally and maintain a clear mind.

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The PR Lift (New 1 Rep Max)

Maintain technique and intensity

When attempting your PR lift, remember to apply the same technique and intensity used during your warmup sets. Keep your focus and concentration on the task at hand.

Hype song and smelling salts

Choose a hype song that gets you pumped up for your PR lift, and consider using smelling salts for an extra boost. If you've never used smelling salts before, don't try them for the first time during an important lift, as they can be intense.

Execution and success

If you've followed the steps above, you should be well-prepared for your PR lift. Execute the lift with confidence, knowing that your preparation has set you up for success.

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Preparing for a PR lift goes beyond just the workout itself. It involves proper nutrition, hydration, sleep, and a focused warmup. By following these steps, you'll be well-equipped to tackle your PR lift with confidence and achieve success. Remember that consistency in your technique and mental preparation is crucial in helping you reach your goals.


How do I prepare for a new PR like a squat, bench press, or deadlift?

Start preparing at least the night before by eating a carb-heavy dinner, staying hydrated, and getting enough sleep. Continue focusing on nutrition, hydration, and proper warm-up exercises on the day of the lift.

What should I eat the night before hitting a new PR?

Eat a big dinner that's high in carbohydrates to ensure your body has enough energy for the upcoming workout.

How much sleep should I get before a new PR?

Aim for a sufficient amount of sleep, as it plays a significant role in your performance. The exact duration may vary, but generally, 7-9 hours of sleep is recommended for adults.

What should my nutrition look like on the day of a big lift?

Focus on consuming a balanced breakfast and snacking throughout the day to maintain your energy levels. Stay hydrated by drinking water, Gatorade, or other hydrating beverages.

How should I warm up for a new PR?

Perform exercises that target the specific muscles you'll be using in the lift. For deadlift, this may include banded rows, glute-ham raises, good mornings, or hip circle walks.

How should I approach the bar during my warm-up sets?

Treat each warm-up set with the same intensity and technique as if it were a heavy set. This helps build good habits and prepares your central nervous system for the lift.

How can I maintain proper technique during my warm-up sets?

Focus on your foot placement, body positioning, and lifting cues for each set. Consistent technique helps reduce the risk of errors when attempting a heavy single.

How should I plan my weight jumps during my warm-up sets?

Choose weight jumps that make sense for your target number and follow a consistent pattern. This will help you get familiar with the appropriate weights for each stage of your warm-up.

How can I mentally prepare for a new 1RM?

Stay calm, don't get overly excited, and remember the technique and intensity you used during your warm-up sets. Focus on your lifting cues and avoid overthinking the lift.

How can I maximize my focus and energy before attempting a heavy single?

Choose a hype song to listen to and use smelling salts, such as ammonia, to increase alertness. However, do not use ammonia for the first time during an important lift, as it may be too intense.