When I was in high school in 1975 I began strength training. Needless to say I was hungry to learn. I wanted to know why the program was structure the way it was. At that time Nautilus was big and was selling High Intensity training as the model for increase strength gains that would also lead to gains in increase muscle size.
Nautilus founder Arthur Jones at that time marketed 1 set to muscle failure for a variety of repetitions was all that was needed for increase protein syntheses. The Negatives were 4sec down and Concentric was 2sec up. Intensity at many Nautilus centers was more about what the set felt like vs. were you adapting to putting more weight on the bar for the repetitions you were training with. How many people remember the guys working there that when you failed on the last rep they push you past that by force repping you and at the same time screaming it is all you but he has his hands all over the bar.
If you were dedicated to working out 3 times a week no matter how much delayed muscle soreness you had that trainer was waiting for you smiling because you were only doing 1 set and that justified the same effort plus 3 -reps additional for that workout. High Intensity was being sold over volume which could save time in the gym but results were not objective though data collection. Training three times a week to failure plus force reps for 12 weeks cause a lot of people to see a weaken of reaction that cause strength plateau within 4 weeks and cause many sports medicine injuries.
Even with the low volume 1 set per exercise challenging the body to a max effort three days a week for 12 weeks we should of question how our CNS would respond to cause the loss of strength that was so common. IF you were keeping records of what you were lifting there would have been a red flag to staying more catabolic than anabolic over the 12 week period. I grew up in an time frame with the famous sayings NO PAIN NO GAIN or JUST DO IT . That mind set of working hard but not working smart can be two different things. HERE IT IS 2015 FORTY YEARS LATER AND WE ARE STILL NOT WORKING SMART!
An example of this is how many people are doing Cross fit workouts which uses many of the Olympic lifts. The Olympic lifts require an optimum velocity, load, and rep count to learn the lifts in a high skill manner. Any rep count for load on bar that causes bar speed to reduce not only produces poor form, reduce power, but puts individuals at higher risk of injury. If the goal is short term endurance(max force between 3-20rep) you should not pick a strength speed or speed strength movement (all Olympic lifts).The whole purpose of strength and conditioning is training for specific adaption’s to impose demands.
We must define what strength is? Absolute Strength, Strength Speed, Speed Strength ,Short Term Endurance and Aerobic Strength are all traits needed to be train . Absolute Strength is your maximum strength for 1 repetition. The most weight lifted regardless of speed. Strength Speed and Speed Strength have required velocities for weight being lifted that must be kept constant or the set is stop. All sports require there athletes to developed these two forms to increase the power curve on force velocity curve. Short Term Endurance involves producing strength with rep schemes between 3-20reps where the goal is progressive overload(more weight for rep scheme) speed does not matter. Aerobic Strength for most coaches is not thought of as a strength but very easy to measure though Vo2 testing. Lack of Aerobic Strength for time sports are played prevents athletes from using the other forms of strength to be competitive.
An example is football players and soccer players both perform sprints at maximum speed but soccer player has a longer period of time with game lasting 90 minutes. Soccer players need an optimum Peak Vo2 of mid sixties to be condition to DO what is expected of them to be able to compete.
That being said there are many football players ignoring what the best way is to overload there Aerobic strength which improves their 4th quarter play production. All of these forms of strength or traits have specific guidelines that when followed allow that strength to become overloaded. Positive Adaption to repeated bouts of training is not just about hard work but more about the leader willing to change if it can be proven it is better. What is evidence base that we can prove through Exercise Science has no value if the Coach or leadership Stops being hungry to learn.