Expert Insight: Carly Thornton’s Guide to Rest and Recovery in a successful training programme

Carly Thornton

Carly Thornton knows more than most about how to train hard and get results. As a UKBFF Bodybuilder and Personal Trainer, Carly knows all about when to push it at the gym and when to let her body recover.

As the co-founder of a training business, which she runs with her partner and fellow bodybuilder Luke Sandoe, Carly spends almost every day of the week in the gym. Sometimes she’s working out herself, other times she is coaching one of her many clients, but either way the results are undeniable. Carly was placed 3rd in the British Bodybuilding Championship.

But despite spending a great deal of time in the gym, Carly explains that achieving your fitness goals is not simply a matter of endlessly working out. Every individual needs to discover their own personal balance between work and rest. No one can exercise for twenty four hours a day, and even if they could, they wouldn’t see the results they want as muscle repair and growth occur during recovery, not exercise.

“I spend more time in the gym than most,” says Carly, “but I wouldn’t be able to do so if I didn’t pay close attention to other aspects such as nutrition and allocated time for rest and recuperation.”

One factor which is absolutely vital to an effective recovery process is sleep, as Carly knows well from her years in the fitness industry.

Carly says that she notices a “great difference” when she has suffered a restless night of poor sleep: “My performance in the gym really suffers and my strength significantly decreases.”

This is frustrating for any athlete striving to improve their fitness performance and shows just how important sleep is for upholding health and fitness. From coordination and alertness to energy and muscle fatigue, sleep is extremely important for both recovery and performance. Not getting enough sleep means feeling run down, which means you won’t make the most of your recovery time.

Competing at a high level in her sport, Carly knows what a vital factor sleep is for the road to success, even helping to stave off illnesses like cold and flu, which Carly says can be “catastrophic” when preparing for a competition:

“If it’s one of the big competitions of the year, I could have been working towards it for several months — but just a few days away from training will see that go out the window.

“Good recovery contributes to keeping me healthy all year round, leaving me free to focus.”

The optimum rest time needed for a full recovery differs from person to person. For Carly, recovery may just mean a half-day off, although she does say she might back off the gym for a week at certain times of year. For most of us, a simple one-day-on one-day-off schedule will allow your body to repair and grow.

So how does one of the UK’s most successful bodybuilders unwind after a hard day? Despite saying she finds this “difficult” to do (“I think this is fairly common for females”) Carly says putting her feet up and watching a good film usually does the trick.

And while Carly doesn’t believe the warnings about eating before bed — she says she eats right up until bedtime and sees no damaging effect on her sleep quality — she does understand the importance of creating the right sleep environment.

Particularly for bodybuilders and fitness fans, knowing that you are comfortable and looked after while sleeping is vital. The right mattress will support your posture and help you enjoy deeper sleep, meaning less waking up through the night. This has been the case for Carly since she purchased her Mammoth mattress.

“Mammoth’s mattresses are designed to take the pressure off my back, neck, pelvis and knees — all problem areas for people who lift — and actually aids circulation.”

This improves Carly’s blood flow, allowing blood to get to the muscles and feed them the oxygen they need to grow and repair.

“Not only have I seen improvements in my performance — but it’s helped my mood too!”