During my own training session yesterday, I heard my coach get asked a question I've heard many times.
"Should I being doing more?"
That might not have been the exact wording, but it worked out to be the usual question - shouldn't I be working harder?
It was preceded by the usual comments - hey, since I've been training with you, my nagging aches and pains are gone, I haven't gotten injured, I'm stronger, faster, lighter, more explosive, etc. etc. etc. and I walk out of the gym ready to take on the world. I'm exaggerating but only slightly. And yet, immediately after, the question is - shouldn't I be working harder, doing more, pushing harder in the gym?
If they don't leave tired, they often feel like they haven't worked.
My coach fielded it pretty much the way I do - and I probably learned how from him. If you're not hurting and everything is better, isn't that the point? Aren't you leaving the gym better than last time, each and every time? You could do more, but what you doing now is already more than you did before. It's already making you better . . . and adding more will be done when you need it, not until then.
With that in mind, you should check out Mike Robertson's new article on T-Nation. It's an interesting way to use RPE - Rate of Perceived Exertion - to gauge your strength workout. What makes that tie in is that RPE depends on working hard, but not too hard . . . and folks with "should I do more?" syndrome might respond better if they use RPE instead of straight-up planned rep counts.