I think wise men make the most out of bad situations. My health issues over the past years made me more aware of the importance of proper training management. And having to measure several health markers multiple times per week allowed me to make correlations that I would have never made in the past.
I always had the underdog mentality: I was never blessed with any particular genetic gifts for size, strength or leanness. But I was willing to work harder than anybody else. The stories I could give you!!! I once did 100 sets of bench press in ONE session (okay they were all between 1 and 3 reps, but still) and then did 70 more sets in the afternoon...I once drove 2 hours round trip (so 4 hours) EVERYDAY for 4 months to train with the best Olympic lifting coach in Canada then we would train 5 hours per day (two sessions of 2:30 hours)... At some point I was even training up to 6 hours per day.
In retrospect that wasn't smart and probably did a lot of bad things to my body that I'm paying for today.
I always felt like crap but willed myself to continue working harder, ignoring the symptoms of stagnation. I would see people who were training less than 1/3 of what I was doing progressing at s much faster rate. It would frustrate me and I would train even more.
At one point you become so used to functioning at 70% then that 70% becomes your 100% (your normal state). And you fail to see that what you are doing is suboptimal.
When I began to measure my health markers I noticed a very strong correlation between the quality of my health markers and 1) how I felt 2) how good my training sessions were 3) my rate of progress 4) how lean and dry I looked.
So in a sense my health issues allowed me to learn more about proper training planning. I've always been very good with creating super effective methods and modifying exercises. But because of my excessive nature I often used too much volume in my programs.
Now I use health markers to gauge recovery and progress.
Furthermore I strongly believe that the healthier the body is, the better it can progress. Seriously, how would an "unhealthy body" progress at an optimal rate? 1) adding and sustaining more muscle puts more strain on the body... your body wont add it if the body is unhealthy and cant deal with the added strain 2) being healthy allows you to function better, thus perform better which will stimulate more growth 3) the energy your body is expending to try to get back to being healthy is energy that is not used to build muscle.
And that is an issue with performance-enhancing drugs: those who use them can stimulate gains even while unhealthy: it basically "forces" muscle growth by artificially putting you in a constant state of protein synthesis. Which is one of the reason why, even though they can offer some good advice on some issues, those who abuse drugs will no see the connection between being healthy, having a balance between stimulating and recovery and muscle growth.
What I do at the moment is use 1 upper body lift and 1 lower body lift per heavy session. I still believe that frequency is very important.
I don't count reps... I really don't. On the muscle days all I care is hitting muscle contractile failure with a weight where I can feel the target muscle do the work. Sometimes I use rest/pauses, sometimes I do drop sets, sometimes I accentuate the eccentric, sometimes I add isometric holds. It doesn't matter really, the key is hitting true contractile failure and I use whatever strategy I feel are needed to do that. I don't always use advanced methods because I want to stay away from being excessive again.
I like doing 2 muscles (sometimes 3 but the third one is a small muscle group) per muscle session, for 2 or 3 exercises each. I like to use the double stimulation approach for two muscle days (those following the heavy days). And on the other days I work the antagonist muscles.
Note that my strength lifts are one press and one squat/deadlift or Olympic lift, so the double stimulation work is for one of the pressing muscles and the lower boy muscle I want to emphasize.
So far yes, very.
No it likely doesn't. I use the exercises in which I feel the best contracting in the target muscle. Sometimes that can mean sticking to the same exercises for a while, sometimes it means changing them up.
But I like to stick to the same exercises or close variations for the heavy days.