TECHNICAL MAX – This would be the max weight that you can hit on a given lift WITH PERFECT TECHNIQUE, or at least without any excessive deviation.
PERSONAL RECORD (PR) – This would be the most weight you have ever successfully moved in a given lift REGARDLESS OF TECHNIQUE.
When performing the strength portion of workouts (Olympic lifts, squats, presses, etc), a good rule of thumb for most people is to base your efforts and percentages off of your “TECHNICAL MAX.” Yes, by all means there is a time and a place to go for a true maximum effort or lifetime personal best. But in general, over the long haul more benefit will be derived from working to improve how much weight you can move with solid technique and strengthening your body in correct positions than just trying to get the weight from point A to point B no matter what regardless of form.
Getting stronger takes time, discipline, and patience. There are no shortcuts or easy fixes. The smartest and most productive thing to do is to take your time, enjoy the journey, and build your strength step by step with your primary focus consistently being on moving the weight with as close to technical perfection as you can obtain. Don’t worry – your strength will still improve, you will still get a great workout, it will be brutally difficult, and as you become more experienced as a lifter, the difference between your technical max and PR will become smaller.