Five Things You Need to Know to Get Strong

If you are serious about your strength-gaining journey, you will need to put the time in to understanding how your body works to get stronger. I’ve put together a list of five things you should seek to understand in order to train in the most effective and intelligent manner possible.

  1. Rate of Force Development

Rate of Force Development (RFD) is a measurement of how quickly you can develop force under load. Powerlifting is about power – power is force times velocity (P=FV). Since power is determined by force and velocity, then the rate at which force is developed is a proxy for power. Force is mass times acceleration (F=MA), so increasing either mass or acceleration will increase your power. Now this can all get nerdy pretty fast, but the bottom line for training is that RFD is about building explosive power. You should plan on increasing RFD in your powerlifting training program. A great, short, easy to understand article on this can be found here: – what-is-the-rate-of-force-development-rfd


  1. Prilepin’s Table

How many sets and reps should you perform of a given exercise? 5×5? 10×3? 3×10? Prilepin’s table demonstrates what set and rep ranges for a given % of your max is best for getting stronger (as opposed to building bigger muscles, for example). Knowing how to set up your rep ranges to maximize strength will keep you from wasting time in the gym, and help you to reach your strength goals sooner. Of course, you can always use an out-of-the box training program like The Nephilim barbell Program, but at some point in your journey you will need to program for yourself. Prilepin’s table will help you do this. To learn more about Prilepin’s table, read this article:


  1. Hypertrophy vs. Hyperplasia

This is one of my pet peeves. You will hear meat-heads (mostly powerlifters) blab about “hypertrophy work”, when what they really mean is some kind of bodybuilding work. In reality, powerlifting – very heavy weights at low reps – stimulate hypertrophy. Bodybuilding work stimulates a different kind of muscle growth all together: hyperplasia. Hypertrophy is a response to stimuli in which the individual cells get bigger; hyperplasia is a response to stimuli in which the body grows more cells. A good, quick education on this can be found on Wikipedia:


  1. Mechanics and Physics

Bottom line – if you want to get stronger, you must learn some basic physics and mechanics. If you don’t know what a moment arm is, you won’t be able to train maximally. The ability to understand basic algebra and physics (like in the discussion about Rate of Force Development, above) is essential to planning and executing against any strength plan. The best resource I’ve found to gain this kind of knowledge is Starting Strength, by Mark Rippetoe. Buy the book, and check out the website:


  1. Nerve and Muscle Development

One of the problem with pop-fitness in America is that most of the advice and coaching you will come across is based around looking pretty. That means that the underlying science is primarily about building nice looking muscles and reducing body fat. In case you haven’t looked at a strength athlete lately, low BMI is not a high priority! Instead, your training needs to work holistically to improve neuro-muscular performance. This includes a healthy knowledge of how the CNS system grows and develops with training, as well as how your musculoskeletal system responds to training. A good article to get you started on this can be found here: