Maximal Effort Method
This consists of lifting against maximum resistance and effectively trains the central nervous system and neuromuscular coordination. It develops both intramuscular and intermuscular coordination, which carries over well to sport activity. The trainee learns to improve motor coordination, and a maximal number of motor units and muscle fibers become activated at an optimal rate. This is the most effective way to build max strength. In most cases, multiple sets of lower repetitions are used. Though it can vary, such as dragging a maximal weight on the sled for a certain distance.
Dynamic Effort Method
This consists of moving lighter weight as fast as possible. It is used to build explosive strength and the rate of force development. This is probably the most common method that is missed by the average gym goer. Repetitions can vary from 2 to 3 reps for optimal explosive strength or speed strength, to 8 to 10 reps for developing speed endurance. It all depends on what your goal at hand is.
Repeated Effort Method
This consists of lifting submaximal weights for multiple repetitions. It is usually the most common method you will see at your average gym. This method is most responsible for hypertrophy (muscle growth) in muscle fibers. Sets can be pushed to muscular failure to ensure that a maximal number of motor units (and in turn maximal number of muscle fibers) are recruited. The submaximal effort method can also be used, in which sets are not taken to complete failure.
A popular way to use this method is to perform a lower to medium number of sets (2-5) of multiple repetitions (6-12 reps). However, there is more than one way to do things. In "Explosive Power and Jumping Ability for All Sports" by Starzynski and Sozanski, performing repetitions with a set weight for time is discussed. For example, you could take a pair of dumbbells and perform as many reps as possible in five minutes; resting when you need to.
When it all comes down to it, various methods must be employed to train various physical qualities at the right times. I am currently training a high school pitcher. He has added 50 pounds to his squat, 40 pounds to his bench press, over 5 inches to his vertical, and over 15 pounds to his frame over the course of the past 5 to 6 months. Hes bigger, faster, stronger, and more powerful. How did we accomplish this? By employing each of these different methods at specific phases of training.
For the record, you can't just jump into training with max weights. Technique and muscles, bones, and all connective tissue must first be developed. In this athlete's case, we first needed to fix some imbalances in his hips and shoulders in addition to raising his level of general physical preparation, before we could get into more advanced training methods. If you don't address these things, injuries and problems will await you.
In conclusion, if your gains have stalled lately, maybe you should mix things up and employ a style of training you have been missing.