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What are the trade-offs of weight versus repetition?

I have just started out with lifting weights, now I know that I should be working all the muscles and I have a routine worked out for everything, but I can't figure out which is best should I be doing heavier weights and less reps or should I be doing less weight and more reps and how many sets is a good amount if doing heavier or lighter.

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    -1 no research effort, typing the question title should have yielded this result. If your goal differs, you should state that, but there are a lot of other question covering repetitions vs weights. – Baarn Dec 30 '12 at 0:26
  • I did actually do research into this and except for loads of crappy forums that had people saying different things there was a video by someone called Jessica Matthews and it didn't actually answer my question. So I did actually do some research before. The question you have added didn't show up at all in the search. I have also been reading two books one called The Men'sHealth Big Book Of Exercise and Body for Life by Bill Phillips and they don't really talk about it so I think I did actually do a lot of research into this before asking. – Popeye Dec 30 '12 at 15:22
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    Maybe you should just ask if any research has been done before criticizing. If i could I would downvote for the none constructive comment as you clearly don't know what I have done before. I have never downvoted someone for not doing research because unless you are sat next to them you don't know what they have looked at before you are just assuming and criticizing. Also someone new won't know what they should be searching for. So maybe you should just take a second and think about what you are saying before saying it. @Informaficker – Popeye Dec 30 '12 at 15:27
  • downvoting is a very normal process on StackExchange, I always explain why I did it (other people often don't). I use it to encourage people to make their question more specific, especially if there have some reputation on other sites and should know how to search on StackExchange sites. I think this question is a duplicate and maybe answers your question, too. If not, please edit your question and state why the existing answers on other questions don't satisfy you. – Baarn Dec 30 '12 at 15:50
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    @Informaficker that was an arrogant response. Please apologise to Popeye. It was his first post by the looks of it. – Mike S Dec 31 '12 at 3:25

This depends on your goals. For hypertrophy, choose an intensity to perform about up 5-10 reps. Higher intensity (and less reps) targets strength, lower intensity (and more reps) targets muscular endurance.

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I think that you should go high intensity for 5 reps and 5 sets with big muscle groups with free weights. Why would you need muscle endurance or high tolerance for Lactic acid in your everyday life? The problem with doing exercises with free weights and high intensity is that you could easily injury yourself. But if you start with low weights so you get the correct technique you will be fine. You just have to increase the weights every time. There is a website called stronglifts.com that I can recommend for his basic training program. It focus on high intensity. If you become a member he will send you an email everyday (with about the same message so I have unsubsribed now) His training routines includes only few exercies like, Deadlift, Benchpress, Squats, Rowing all with free weights. Here is a video of the routines.

There is a discussion here about the best exercises for life. I agree with this answer about strength:

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  • Please be aware that StackExchange sites are not discussion boards but Q&A sites, you should read the faq. Your answer does not really answer the question that was asked here. – Baarn Dec 30 '12 at 21:59
  • Thank you for your information about FAQ. I have now read the FAQ. The headline about: "What if I see bad things happening?" caught my interest. – Patrik Lindström Dec 31 '12 at 11:47
  • Some StackExchange users (including me) sometimes seem to be a bit rough to new users. If you have any problems while using the site, post your problems or concerns on Physical Fitness Meta or use the informal way and join our Physical Fitness Chat. I try to be straightforward and tell you what I dislike when you post something, instead of simply downvoting and not telling you (which is far easier and takes less time). – Baarn Dec 31 '12 at 12:13

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