Well it seems everyone is always in search of the "secrets" to becoming great at anything. So this is my short and to the point Reader's Digest version.
Do the big lifts: squats, deadlifts, presses, cleans, jerks and snatches
This does not include the smith machine, leg press machine or any other piece of overpriced scrap metal. Leg pressing 1000lbs. really isn't impressive when you only squat 225lbs. That is not the carryover I'm looking for when trying to build strength.
Lift heavy: did you lift the weight, yes. Then add weight and lift again. Did you succeed, yes. Add more, fail, stop and come back in a few days to repeat.
Sounds stupidly simple but I cannot count high enough the amount of people I see in the gym on a daily basis lifting the same weight as they did last year or the last 5 years. If you want to get stronger, YOU MUST ADD MORE!!! More weight or reps is up to you and depends on your goals.
Have a record for numerous areas, not just competition lifts. My coach Valery Fedorenko has a personal record not only for a 10 minutes jerk set with 32kg, but also with 16kg, 24kg, 40kg and for all minutes in between and beyond. What I take understand from this is that we need to know where we stand and then look to always find ways to improve.
As my friend Zach Coulture has said, "There are NO secrets, only guys who train hard and train smart."