My mentor started me with a basic system for each lift:
--2 sets of 4-6 reps
--2 sets of 6-10 reps
--2 sets of 12-15 reps
He was a split guy, so the last 2 sets were isolation moves.
Initially I did 2 of these patterns for each major muscle group, and one for each smaller muscle group. Everything was raw progression, stopping short of failure. when I could hit the top rep limit for each 2-set pairing, I added weight.
I used this for 18 months, from 1986 to 1987. In 1987 I decided that Arnold might be smarter than my mentor so I switched to a 3-on, 1-off system of push pull legs that used the above template.
I ran the "Arnold variation" for 3 months but it destroyed my lower back and my shoulders, so I reverted to my old split.
I used this same split until 2007, though from 1989 forward I started to use fewer and fewer isolation lifts. I hated most of them. Flyes and laterals just irritated my shoulders, and more than that, I liked ramming heavy weight.
Before 2007 I didn't deadlift. But I did do rack pulls from below the knee. I actually used them for my lower back, and was completely ignorant about deadlifts in general.
My "evolutions" were small...adding new lifts here and there like close grip benches.
I used 4 primary chest lifts...dumbbell and barbell bench...incline and flat. Shoulders were dumbbell and barbell press. Triceps were dips and overhead dumbbell extensions. Back were dumbbell rows and t-bars. Legs were squats and leg press.
I slowly weeded out rear laterals, flyes, leg extensions, laterals, lat pull downs (very early - 1986, I hated them).
I lived for progression.
Over time the total number of sets I did also "evolved" to fewer and fewer, and I eventually dropped all sets with 10+ reps. Sets evolved to only doing 12 per workout, 6 sets max per major body part each week.
I learned less is more, many isolations weren't needed, etc.
From 2007 on I played a bit.
In late 2007 I ran a Westside variation, and then a powerlifting periodized 6 week cycle than I designed myself. I started using box squats and deadlifts at this time. I could only deadlift 365 and was pathetic. My 6 week cycle bumped my deadlift up 50 pounds and I fell in love with the lift.
I explored my own merging of Max-Stim and DC Training in 2008, called Bulldozer Training. I ran this nearly the entire year. During 2008 I moved away from powerlifting because I tore my left shoulder at work, completely non-lifting related. I trained through the tear, starting with a 135 bench and ending at a 275 max 6 months later.
In 2009 I dabbled quite a bit with Hepburn's methods, and "just played", trying different things because I could. My max potential for size and strength was about exhausted.
I have also tried some Heavy Duty workouts, German Volume training workouts, etc.
Destroy That Which Destroys You
"Let bravery be thy choice, but not bravado."