How I Train: Pat Rae

How I Train: Pat Rae


Pat Rae is a men’s strength and conditioning Specialist who specializes in guiding men aged 35-50 to get back their lost strength, energy, and fitness levels. Rae owns and operates a boutique personal training studio as well as an online fitness and nutrition portal, patrae.com.

How do you start your own day? Do you have any daily rituals or routines?

My body clock wakes me when the sun comes up, which for sunny Queensland varies between 4:45am in the summer time through to 5:30am in the winter. I haven’t used an alarm clock in years although I still set it when I have early morning clients, just as a backup.

I take my resting heart rate before I get out of bed; after going to the toilet, I weigh myself. I also track how much sleep I’ve had and I rate it for quality out of 5. I do all these things to track whether or not I’m overtraining by keeping an eye on any wild or fluctuating trends. A sudden and unexplained elevated heart rate or a 2-3 kg drop in weight are great indicators that something isn’t right.

I pop some fish oil tablets on 2 glasses of water before I do anything else, to start activating my gastric juices. Within about 15-20 mins, I’m hungry so I eat. I do this every single day regardless of the day of the week.

What are your eating habits like? Do you follow any specific program of eating?

As a Polynesian, I follow a predominantly Paleo meal plan, although I don’t advertise it because it sends the wrong message. People think that they have to be like a certain type (and that that type is the only type) and I don’t want my clients thinking that. When I’m designing their meal plans I don’t tell them they’re eating “a certain way”, I tell them they’re eating right for them.

I do really well on a protein based plate, with minimal grainy carbs. Fat and I are bosom buddies (I put butter in my coffee before bulletproof was invented), and so too is fresh fruit and any vegetable I can get my hands on.

I’m not a small person (110kgs at last look), so you can assume I eat a lot. I eat often but my meals aren’t large like you’d expect, if you get my drift.

There’s so much research being done and advice being published, how do you tell what’s real and what’s fake? How do you decide what’s relevant and what isn’t?

When it comes to science and research, I’m lazy, which means I rely on experts, but the trick is to choose your experts carefully. The research industry has been hijacked by fraudulent publications and journals all purporting to be “the one”, yet I’ve learned that they simply publish based on a fee without any consideration to examining the submission at all. Add to this the myriad of network marketing companies all claiming to have scientifically backed products and it’s no wonder the world is totally confused. By sheer chance, I stumbled onto a bunch of research nerds who weren’t aligned to any pharmaceutical company, university, network marketing company, publication or medical facility.

They published a massive resource which is my now go-to resource for all things supplements. Their website is examine.com and because I am in no way affiliated to them (I’m not earning a commission by referring you to them) you can be safe in the knowledge that my review of them is real word of mouth.

Is there any current thinking about diet and fitness that needs to be challenged?

Western civilization is getting sicker and fatter than ever before, yet we recently put a man on the moon. What a paradox.

The way western civilizations mass produce food needs serious attention. We cannot continue to produce substandard food-like substances and sell them cheaply to our populations without suffering the consequences of a rising taxation cost to medical care. Cereals, juices, confectionary are the tip of the iceberg—don’t start me on grain-fed beef and caged chickens! Here in Australia we can no longer afford our current Medicare system and it’s only getting worse.

Less than 3% of the Australian population exercise, (3.3 million at last count) yet over 60% are overweight or obese (12.5 million). At this stage of the game, any exercise is better than none. I’m not a fan of all the trendy exercise modalities that come and go, but people need to do something and frankly I don’t care what it is. I’d rather someone hurt themselves exercising, rather than get sick and fat from not.

We need some way to encourage non-exercisers to move more.

Is there anything new you’ve started doing recently, or anything you’ve quit?

No, not really. Like most people I fell off the band wagon for a 3 month period in 2014, but once I refocussed, I got myself back into the swing. I don’t drink much alcohol anymore as I can’t handle the hangovers and I put that down to old age. I found using my own training diary which I sell online and to my own clients has really worked a treat. I did try and train early in the morning but I found the lack of energy an obstacle to getting a good quality workout in, so I went back to training after lunch. By then I’ve eaten at least 3 times and have plenty of energy on board.

How do you make adjustments to your workout? It’s hard to know what to do when you’re tired or having a bad workout.

I use my overtraining tracking regime that I referred to earlier as my guiding star. If I’ve had a bad/broken sleep or my heart rate is up 4-6 beats per minute from yesterday, or my bodyweight is down 2-3 kgs from yesterday, I will change my program to a Work In, rather than a Work Out.

Can you share some of the specific things you notice top performers doing differently in their fitness routines than the average person?

This one is easy. Without a doubt my top performing clients are the ones that do as they’re told, without question and without excuses. They set ambitious written goals and then follow the plans we put in place to achieve them. They’re honest during their robust review system we implement and take on board any feedback.

I work extremely hard with my clients in getting them to understand that in order to achieve their health and fitness goals, they must think like an elite athlete. They don’t have to be one to think like one and once I’ve won this battle, (and it is a battle for some) everything else takes care of itself.

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