I'm a noob, training for a little under half a year now. I picked up information on what to do from various sources, but my primary initial indoctrination came from Tom Venuto's "Burn the Fat, Feed the Muscle" e-book. He seems to give pretty standard advice in the weight training section, recommending 2-3 sets of 6-12 reps for each exercise, and with various split recommendations depending on your level of experience. I'm currently on a revolving 3 day split routine, working 3 muscle groups per day.
Now, the meat of my questions concerns rep numbers and "failure." More or less out of instinct, I've been training to failure on every set from the get go. However, as you might imagine, it's nigh impossible to do 6-12 reps for 3 sets at the same weight if you're going to failure each set. Once again, more or less by instinct, I started doing drop sets to compensate for this.
I like this methodology. I've gone from 135 pounds to 175 pounds using it. If you can do 12 reps on the first set, it's time for more weight --- if you can't do 6, it's time for less. Clean, simple, and seemingly effective.
On the flipside, I'm a curious dude, and started exploring other training methodologies over the past few days. Much to my chagrin, the general consensus seems to be that I'm overdoing it. Scary. So, I've started looking for alternate set/rep advice, but found it to be rather confusing.
This brings my wordy self to the actual questions --- three of them:
1) Am I following some existing training style that I don't know about?
2) Am I setting myself up for injury/overtraining the way I'm going now?
3) When somebody says "do X sets of Y reps," I take it weight remains constant and you're not going to failure (at least for all but the last set). If that's so, does that mean the weight has to be (relatively) light? Further, how do you know when it's time for more poundage?
Any input is appreciated, and is good for your karma too.