I was not trying to suggest that you were too hung up on the small stuff and were ignoring the foundational stuff. That was more of a generalized observation of the types of threads that have been springing up around here lately. If you are continuing to pay attention to the basics (foundational elements), and wish to utilize periodization, and it's working for you, then more power to you.
It's just that you don't need to periodize in order to build strength and muscle. And, most people who are fairly new to this game would be much better off just finding a good tested proven program that they like and sticking to it, while at the same time making sure that the foundational elements are in place.
Worrying about strength phases, and mass phases, and (insert attribute) phases is fine for athletes or more advanced lifters who feel like they enjoy the change of pace. But for newb's it's pretty much a waste of energy IMO.
I'm not arguing that building strength is #1 in the gym, nor am I telling anyone to work out one muscle every 7 days. But you don't have to periodize to fully realize those two points.
Also, why is it really necessary to vary volume, intensity (%1RM) and exercises?
There have been people getting big on just the old 3x8-12 set/rep scheme for literally half a century now. Yes, I'll admit that when a lift plateaus (can no longer progress in strength gains) that it's time to switch that exercise for another variation. But that's not really something you can make an accurate prediction on (in terms of the time it will take for this to occur).
See first of all building muscle is an adaptation, you WANT adaptation to occur. Now if you were to do the EXACT same workout every time you went to the gym, then your body would have no reason to adapt further. But, as long as you are putting overload on the muscles, they will continue to adapt, even if the set/rep scheme stays the same for extended periods of time. Load is, as you eluded to above, the single most important (and most easily manipulated) variable in the gym.
Unless you're Andy Bolton and you literally need more plates than anyone should reasonably need, you shouldn't have any problems with increasing the load enough to illicit adaptation (muscle growth). Nor are you probably going to reach a strength level where you actually cannot find enough resistance to make something challenging.
Also, plateaus are unavoidable, IMO you'd be much better off just sticking on a few good tried and true mass builders or each muscle group and getting as strong as possible on each one of them. Then, when you do finally reach a plateau, then and only then should you switch up to different exercises (and repeat the process).
Seriously, if you're switching up exercises every 4 weeks (or whatever the in vogue time frame is this week) it's going to take you a lot longer to reach those same strength levels. In other words, you can either take the scenic route, or the expressway. If you choose the scenic route then, hey it's your time, do with it what you please. But also realize that there are other ways to get there, some quite possibly faster than the route you took.