Personal Trainer of the Month: Clayton Rice
When it comes to Clayton helping his clients fulfill their fitness goals, he knows that the key to making health and exercise habit forming is to make it enjoyable!
TELL US ABOUT YOUR PERSONAL AND PROFESSIONAL BACKGROUND.
I grew up in a small rural farming community in Southwest Missouri – Lamar, MO, the birthplace of the 32nd president, Harry S. Truman. Also the home to a 5x defending 2A state championship football program (I’m really proud of that.) I grew up on a dairy/cattle farm. My parents both had traditional 8-5 jobs aside from our farm, so I had pretty significant responsibilities and I believe it helped me develop a strong work ethic. Growing up I played all sports, mostly because my dad watched them and encouraged me to do so. As I got older I learned he was a pretty phenomenal athlete at Lamar. My coaches in high school either coached or were teammates of my dad, so I caught a lot of flak for not being his second coming. I think that drove me to work hard and compete. All through school I was a smart kid, and that translated over well to sports. I had a mind for the game, I just didn't have a whole lot of athletic ability. I was a four-year letterman in both football and basketball (not because I was a great athlete) I was just a super intense guy and I would have run through a door if they asked me to. Coaches like coachable kids, I was coachable, intelligent, and highly competitive. Four years ago this September I started dating my soon to be fiancé, Briana Nelson. She's also a trainer here at the Springfield South location. We both have made our health a priority and we enjoy helping and teaching others to do the same. Another priority we share is rescuing dogs, being around animals my entire life just made me a sucker for pups that are down and out on their luck. Which is why we have given five dogs a home, yes five! Three dachshunds, Kalli, Max, and Cash, a Pomeranian named Sam and a Shiba Inu named Bruce Wayne.
I worked in Airport Operations at Federal Express before I began training full time with Genesis. It was a great career with equally great benefits, and it payed for 90% of my college education- but it wasn’t what I wanted. It was a career I stumbled into but I just never could see myself making it MY career. After four years, I resigned and devoted my life to teaching muscle contractions at the Springfield South location. I graduated from MSU with a Bachelors in Food and Animal Science. Nutrition is something that really caught my attention when I started training. Its role in body re-composition, adding lean muscle tissue and internal health fascinates me. I think it's the key to improving bio markers long term and preventing major health issues later in life. When you start to focus on where your food comes from, similar to how animals were raised, were they fed in their natural diet? That's when internal health really starts improving. Interestingly enough, my agricultural background really ties into the nutritional principals I believe in. Know your food sources, know your farmer, and buy local when possible. It's almost fitting that my past experiences raising animals would dominate what I believe from a nutritional standpoint.
WHEN AND WHY DID YOU BECOME A TRAINER?
I got my first two ISSA certifications in 2013 and I did a little training on the side while I worked at FedEx. I think after being an athlete for so long it just becomes part of you. After competitive sports I needed an outlet and I found that in resistance training. I started training again in 2011 – fell in love with it. At that time, I thought I wanted to be a bodybuilder. Growing up I watched professional wrestling, some of those guys in the late 90's had absolutely incredible physiques. Pro wrestling back then was a part of pop culture and although no one wants to admit to watching it; I think every kid who tuned in wished they looked like Scott Steiner, Kurt Angle or Lex Luger (I knew I did). So I guess I've always had an obsession for the physique aspect of health and fitness, but I never found it to be rewarding. My parents were awesome examples of how to be great human being to others and that really resonated with me. They taught me to be selfless and caring. I think some of life's best rewards are giving others what they can't give themselves - in our line of work that's knowledge, encouragement, and motivation. Every day I get the opportunity to help people make lifestyle changes and lifestyle choices that affect their health and the health of their family. I never sat down to really think about it before, but I guess that's why I became a trainer. I saw it as an opportunity to help others in a field I've grown really passionate about and made it a priority in my personal life. I feel most people go through their entire life looking for fulfillment, for some they may find that in their faith, or their relationships, but it's a pretty cool experience when you get fulfillment on a daily basis in the form of your craft.
WHAT IS YOUR TRAINING STYLE? WHAT METHODS DO YOU USE?
I really try to make everything fun. I feel like I'm quickly put at a disadvantage because I'm 6'2" 260lbs. That's intimidating to 80% of our members and potential clients. When I started, some of my current clients were nervous to work with me. One client even said, “dude, you’re scary.” So for me, I want to be an enjoyable individual and make training enjoyable for others. For beginners that's the key, make it enjoyable so it will become habit forming. People won't continue to do things they don’t enjoy. Depending on the client in front of me, their goals, and how they advance are things that always change. But for the majority of my clients that are focused on weight loss/fat loss, I like using giant sets on a resistance training day in one large circuit. This usually includes cardio to keep their heart rate elevated. I like programming cardio 2-3 times a week for cardiovascular health but I don't rely on it much for fat loss. I believe sub maximal resistance training is the most effective form of exercise, if it isn't fun, then it isn't sustainable long term. It’s really just about constant progression once you help them find the “fun” in exercise.
WHAT ARE THE MOST COMMON MISTAKES A CLIENT MAKES?
- Obsessing over the scale, and the handheld body fat reader, those things belong in the garbage. Track your progress in the mirror and a journal. How are your clothes fitting? Do you have more energy? Are you stronger? Is your appetite increasing? To me, these differences are more important than the scale.
- The theory that more is better. Three hours at the gym is too much. Get in, get out, go eat, then eat again later. (see below)
- 7 days a week won't help you achieve your goal any quicker. Your body needs time off, and food to help it repair and grow. Most people couldn't eat enough to truly benefit from training 7 days a week.
- Excessive cardio - not one my clients has issues with this, as they have heard this soul sucking speech from me 1000 times. People put too much stock into cardio and its relationship to fat loss.
- Not eating enough - all too common believe it or not. I actually LOVE keeping calories as high as possible. Most think under eating is the answer. While a caloric deficiencies will usually yield great results, most get way too low, which causes the metabolism to stall. This is the reason I'm a big advocate for peri workout nutrition as you can eat in a surplus and still lose body fat. But I won't get on that soapbox today, you're welcome in advance.
WHAT ARE THE MOST COMMON MISTAKES YOU BELIEVE A TRAINER MAKES?
Talking in terms of absolutes. I truly believe that 90% of the questions we’re asked should be answered with, "it depends" followed by a question or two of our own. We're talking about the human body, everything is relative - very rarely is there a generic answer for anything.
I'm hyper critical of myself so I'll touch on one of my personal weaknesses. I think in terms of "what's optimal" far more frequently than "what's realistic" for my clients, mostly when it comes to nutrition. I need to be more willing to compromise on things, it’s a work in progress.
HOW DO YOU KEEP YOUR CLIENTS MOTIVATED?
I am fortunate enough to have a team of clients who are eager to learn and even show up early to train. All of my clients are highly motivated and come in ready to kick butt! I feel blessed because I know other trainers put in a lot of effort to get people to come in to the club. I'll get texts from some clients 2-3 days before our appointment asking, "can we train legs on Thursday and do that one exercise I liked last time?" I feel like more of my time is spent keeping clients from getting discouraged because they aren't progressing like they anticipated more than I do motivating them to get in the gym. That’s a good thing!
DO YOU SOMETIMES FEEL LIKE A PSYCHOLOGIST AS WELL AS A TRAINER?
Absolutely. As much as I'd love to dominate the conversation by explaining everything we are doing during the session and why, people are going to have a bad day and they're going to vent. I think it's just critical that you remember that you're a trainer first. So when venting conversations surface, I take advantage of the intensity and channel it by adding weight when they aren't paying attention.
WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE QUOTE(S)?
“Like a stone cutter hammering away at his rock, perhaps a hundred times without as much as a crack showing in it. Yet at the hundred-and-first blow it will split in two, and I know it was not the last blow that did it, but all that had gone before” - Jacob Riis
“If you find yourself being the smartest guy in the room - you need to find a new room. - Colin Cowherd
WORKOUT VIDEOS: TIPS, TECHNIQUE & PROPER FORM
(targeting lower body)
Standing Hamstring Curls or Seated Hamstring Curls
Set 1 x 15-20 reps
Set 2 x 15-20 reps
Set 3 x 15-20 reps
*Think of these as a warm-up. Not working sets. I like programming these at the start of any lower body day for EVERYONE. I think it’s a great way to get the blood flowing - which sets up for any hip dominant movement. (Squats or deadlifts) I don’t get heavy with these – I want to be able to preform 15-20 repetitions without a struggle. Think maximum contractions with these.
***The key here is to bring your heel up as high as possible, think about bringing it right up to touch your glute. On the eccentric motion (downward), really control the weight and stop just shy of having a straight leg. That’s the first thing I have to correct with clients – extending the leg completely on the way down. When you do that with a load your hyperextending, even if you don’t realize it. Stopping just short keeps the load on your hamstrings and protects you from hyperextending but still gives you optimal range of motion. Also, you’ll notice that we aren’t using the machine as it was designed. I don’t like resting my patella on the pad as it puts me in an awkward position – so I eliminate that by standing on the weight. It elevates you a little higher so your contraction is a little more intense.
Sumo Leg Press aka High And Wide
Set 1 x15 reps (warm up)
Set 2 x 12 reps (working set)
Set 3 x10 reps (working set)
Set 4 x 10 reps (working set)
Set 5 X 8 reps (working set)
*A traditional leg press is mostly a quad focused exercise - these are specifically for hams and glutes. When you’re setting yourself up for this bring your feet to the top of the platform and point your toes out – the more you open up your hips in the eccentric motion (downward), the more you should angle your toes out to match. This ensures that your knees track over your toes. Focus on slowly bringing your legs back toward your body and push through your heels (this will really activate your glutes and hamstrings when done correctly) BUT do not fully lock your knees out on this exercise. You want to keep tension on the muscle being worked throughout the entire movement. If you’re having a hard time feeling your glute/ham tie-in pause when you get to the bottom – think squeeze NOT press. Keep the speed slow and controlled throughout this exercise, the only thing that changes is the direction of travel, not the speed.
***You’ll notice after watching the video that a priority is keeping the knees from coming in and going valgus. Force those knees out to track over the toes, just like a squat. You’ll also notice that I am set up differently than Bri. Being taller I have to keep my lower back supported by the pad. If I sat like I normally would in a leg press with my butt on the seat all that weight would be centered on my lower spine.
Modified Romanian Deadlift with Cable Machine and Band
Set 1 x 15
Set 2 x 15
Set 3 x 15
Set 4 x 15
*This is basically just a hip extension variation. We could call it a million different things but its hip extension at its core. I like this because instead of having force that pulls you down, you have force pulling you back. This gives you a great contraction in your glutes and also helps novice lifters not activate the lower back as I see all to common when teaching RDL’s with a bar. The key here is to keep the back straight, and obnoxiously stick your butt out while keeping your knees slightly bent, and locked into place. At the bottom of the movement, you will squeeze your glutes as hard as possible and use them to pull the weight forward. I like increasing the weight on each set until I’m doing the entire stack. (Keep in mind that weight is relative.) Most of my clients get a better contraction doing these about 10-15lbs less than what they COULD.
***I like this exercise for novice lifters because it takes a lot of unneeded parts out - gripping the bar, hand position on bar, not activating the lower back, or hunching over. Just be certain you are extending at the hips and not bending at the knees.
Nordic Hamstring Curls
Set 1 x 10
Set 2 x 10
Set 3 x 8
*This is by far my favorite hamstring exercise. We don’t have a lying leg curl machine here so we have to get creative at times. This is a more advanced exercise, as it requires a lot of strength on the eccentric motion (downward) – but it is highly effective. If you can do more than three sets with these, I’m impressed and I would love for you to email me so we can set up a session together.
***This exercise is all about the eccentric motion. Controlling your body weight on the way down – without hunching at the last moment. As you see in the video you can use a PVC pipe or partner to help guide you through the range of motion and then assist by pushing you back up to the top. Bri is awesome with these and she demonstrates doing these without an aide. The key here is to lock yourself into position and not kick your butt out as your progress to the bottom. Keep everything nice and tight so you’re not activating the lower back.
Set 1 x 10
Set 2 x 8 (with a 1-5 second hold)
Set 3 x 6 (with a 1-5 second hold)
*Bret Contreras made these really popular a few years ago. I think it’s a really effective exercise to add serious muscle to the glutes but also help improve the squat. Every bikini competitor knows what these are but most of the other gym goers don’t. I wish I had a dollar for every time a gym bystander asked me what muscle my client was working when doing these.
***The video shows you an alternate variation of how to do these. All you need is a seated hamstring curl machine to preform. You’ll see that Bri is using a band so that she has to think about forcing her knees out. This activates the abductors and makes this a little more challenging. I like doing these heavy (relative) as I think it translates well into a stronger squat. The key here is foot position and the position of where you stabilize yourself on the bench. Feet – bring them to ninety degrees or closer. This will ensure you’re activating all glutes -not hamstring and/or quads. The best way to make sure your activating an contracting the glutes hard is to really set into your heels. You’ll notice that my toes are up while preforming. To stabilize - on the bench I set myself up so that my shoulder blades are right on the edge of the bench. Nothing more. As you squeeze the weight up think about just using your glutes to force the weight up - hold and repeat.