Nothing short-circuits a workout program faster than an injury. It doesn't have to be the "snap city" kind, either. The real enemy is that troublesome shoulder injury that reminds you of its presence with each rep, or that hot spot in your elbow that just won't go away. 
Some of this is inevitable, of course. But a little strategic prevention can also pay off immensely. 
Let's look at a few of the top injury-prevention tips from people who make their living in fitness. Taking time away from the gym for them is not an option when contests and photo shoots loom, so staying pain-free  is a top priority. 


Strength is all the rage these days. Plenty of men and women are posting PRs and following strength-focused programs. If you've been doing 5x5, 3x5, or anything with a five in it, congrats: You're building strength. But have you really earned it yet? 
Here's what too few of the "how muchya" people won't tell you: You'll only benefit from lifting a heavy weight if you are using proper form. "Form should come way before the weight being lifted," NPC bikini athlete Katie Miller says. "If you lower the weight being lifted and focus on the mind-muscle connection, you'll avoid injuries and still see maximum results."
The lowering part—the eccentric half of a lift—can lead to a lot of strength and muscle gains, as well as strengthening connective tissues, so don't discount it. Until your form is rock solid, make the most of it and get your reps in. Let the weight creep up a bit, and then—only then—decide if you really, really want to go chase a big number. 
Oh, and when you do go chase that number for the first time, save everyone around you a heart attack and use a spotter! "Whenever you're lifting with heavy weights, be sure that you have a spotter nearby," she says. "This will not only give you more confidence to push harder, but could really save you from a serious injury." 


Fatigue is a crucial ingredient in training. Your muscles and energy systems need it to get stronger and more efficient. But fatigue can be your enemy, too—especially when it makes your form lapse to the point that you suffer an injury. 
So what's the answer? First, do what you can to delay fatigue for as long as possible. Miller swears by the classic quality-of-life stuff for that. "The best way to prevent injuries is to make sure that you are getting adequate amounts of sleep," she explains. "Also, make sure you are taking care of your water and nutrition intake before you train."