In the last few years I have found a good way to balance training volume & intensity is to base virtually all of my chosen exercises on the magical number 24.
2 sets of 12
3 sets of 8
4 sets of 6
5 sets of 5 (25)
6 sets of 4
8 sets of 3
12 sets of 2
Even 1 set of 24—–“flushing set.”
Some of these rep-ranges like 3 sets of 8 are very familiar to the average gym-goer. Some, such as 12 sets of 2 may seem unorthodox, but can do wonders for the trainee that is looking to add strength to a particular movement.
Likewise a blood-flushing single set of 24 reps to close out your training session can be productive in increasing sarcoplasmic fibers (think “pump”) and can add impressive, albeit temporary muscle for aesthetic purposes.
I would like to add that NONE of these set/rep schemes are performed at absolute failure. I always like to stay at least 1-3 reps shy of failure. Taking a set to absolute failure is not a great idea most of the time for a natural trainee. It is fine to do occasionally, but doing so on the regular will quickly fry your central nervous system and cause possible setbacks in the form of illness or injury.
A natural trainee is better served with a focus upon frequency and a mindset of progression as opposed to balls to the wall intensity.
Read more about these ideas here: Ageless Shred ebook