Originally Posted by Chad Lammert
I'm a little bummed because I thought this was going to be some sort of holy grail for programing volume.
Unfortunately it doesn't exist. There are so many factors that influence how a given volume of training will affect different lifters (and the same lifter at different times) that it would be impossible to make a simple formula for it. The class system developed by the Soviets is the closest thing to this, and even that needs modification based on age, training experience (neither of which is necessarily aligned as might be expected with class ranking), and lifestyle factors, etc.
As I said, and as Dave said more enthusiastically, it can be of use for some broad guidelines to be sure, but I would suggest you consider it just that: guidelines, not hard and fast rules.
Regarding my expectations, I don't have them beyond expecting a lifter to warm-up as ideal for him/herself in order to perform the workout optimally. For some lifters, that means quite a few sets to get to the 80% working sets, and others will be able to get to it very quickly. Largely that's dependent on technical proficiency if we're talking about classic lifts or variants. If I'm looking for a very specific number of lifts, I'll prescribe all sets above 60% explicitly. Often with my own lifters, I'll instruct them on what warm-up wts, sets and reps to take as they're lifting even if it's not written on their programs - this is just based on how that lifter functions generally along with what they look like that day and what I want to see them do that session.