I am staying away from the "as-much-as-you-can". Now, in the dumbbells part of my workout I simply mimic a linear load progression at fixed number of reps, á la SL5x5. I just use smaller increments and a slightly higher rep range.
But I need an explanation of what I should do with the number of sets. What is the recommendation for a middle-aged person whose priority is to avoid screwing up his tendons?
Is it safer to restrict the number of sets to 3 instead of 5, or will that inhibit the progress too much? I don't mind to slow down the progress (as long as there is some) if that is safer.
Specially, my priority is giving room for my wrist tendons to keep up with the progress. In most workouts plans I have seen, the number of sets specifically dedicated to forearms is usually low in relation to the main exercises. But I don't know if that is due to the fact that the forearm training is seen as a mere addition that should not interfere with the big exercises, or if that is due to an specific need of low volume for the most grip-taxing exercises.
In any case, my question is about the number of sets in general, not only for the forearm specific work, since wrists take part in nearly all exercises.