Writers in our industry like to use the religious phrase, the search for the Holy Grail, far too frequently because there really is only one HG and that is the never-ending quest for Size & Strength. In fact, this search is the genesis for training methods whether they are more anecdote, (Jones, Mentzer -- Heavy Duty or HIT) or science-based, such as cycling periodization.
Recent research from the Exercise and Wellness Laboratory at Arizona State University called undulating periodization (UP) has proven to be especially effective in inducing maximum strength gains. The May 2002 issue of The Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research reported that experienced strength trainers who followed this type of training program doubled strength increase as compared to a traditional training, control group. It concludes that ongoing strength gains for those who have hit plateaus may be preferentially accrued from this type of training.
Undulating periodization is another form of cycle training with changes in volume and intensity.Here are examples:
90 percent of repetition max for the desired reps. If you can use 200 lbs. for an all out set of 8 reps, you'd use 180 lbs.
10 and 5 rep warm-up sets. 3 sets x 8 reps (Using 90% of your actual max for 8 repetitions, as explained above).
Again 90% but his time, 3 sets of 6 reps with 90% of your 6 rep max. For example, if you are able to do 200 pound 8 reps, you may be able to do 220 pounds 6 times. So here you would use approximately 198 pound (round to 195 or 200) for your 3 sets of 6.
3 sets of 4 reps with 90 precent of your 4 rep maximum. Assuming you are able to do 240 pounds x 4 reps, then you would use 215 pounds, 3 x 4 reps.
Repeat the 3 workouts of cycle 1 - 8,6 and 4 reps respectively, but at 95 percent of your repetition max all the way through.