In virtually every textbook and manual about strength training that I’ve ever read, the suggestion for “hypertrophy” workouts is always something like 3-5 sets of 10-12 reps at around 70-75% of your 1RM. This tends to double up as a suggestion for beginners, as well – the rationale being that they need to use lighter weights and build a foundation before moving into heavier weights.
Of course there are some differences of opinion there; Bill Starr suggested sets of five, and this has been continued by Glenn Pendlay and Mark Rippetoe with their ongoing use of the now-classical “5×5” workouts.
In reality it seems that it just doesn’t matter much what beginners do. They’ll grow and get stronger regardless of the program as long as they’re showing up and trying to get stronger. And in Maximum Muscle, I questioned the idea of the “hypertrophy protocol” to begin with. This entire notion is based on these beginner gains, firstly, and secondly, on the notion that the hormonal response elicited by this kind of training actually correlates with muscle and/or strength gains.