What is The 75 Hard Challenge?
If you’re active on social media, chances are you’ve come across the hashtag #75Hard accompanied by images showcasing physical progress, book covers, or gym selfies. But what exactly does the 75 Hard Program entail, and is it something worth considering?
Entrepreneur Andy Frisella, a podcaster and CEO of the supplement company 1st Phorm, introduced the 75 Hard Challenge in 2019. Contrary to a typical fitness challenge, 75 Hard is described as a “transformative mental toughness program,” according to the program’s official website.
The inspiration for 75 Hard came about during an interview between Frisella and James Lawrence, renowned as the Iron Cowboy for accomplishing 50 Ironman races in 50 consecutive days across all 50 states. Lawrence emphasized the need to intentionally place oneself in uncomfortable situations to cultivate mental fortitude, motivating Frisella to develop the 75 Hard program.
For 75 consecutive days, 75 Hard participants must do the following every day, according to the program’s welcome email:
1. Follow a diet
While it can be a diet of your choosing, the diet must be a structured eating plan with the goal of physical improvement. No alcohol or meals outside your chosen diet are allowed.
Many registered nutritional professionals tend to disfavour the concept of “diets” due to the connotations associated with the term, and the 75 Hard program leaves the diet aspect open to interpretation. While the recommendation to consult with a physician is present (highly advised), individuals are responsible for structuring the diet component of the challenge on their own.
It’s crucial to approach any fitness challenge with nutritional requirements seriously. Licensed therapist Kati Morton, in an article with Refinery 29, recommends adopting intuitive eating strategies as the “diet” for 75 Hard. This method involves attentively listening to your body and consuming what you crave in appropriate amounts.
When it comes to nutritional guidance, it’s essential to rely on credible sources. Given the double daily workout routine, ensuring an adequate intake of healthy foods is vital to meet the demands of the challenge.
Here are some diets you can choose from if you need inspiration:
- Mediterranean diet: A well-rounded, heart healthy diet recommended by many healthcare providers focused on plant-based foods and healthy fats (think lean meats like chicken and fish).
- Keto: A high-fat and low-carb diet designed to improve metabolism and muscle mass.
- Vegan: A diet that avoids anything that comes from animals (think meats, eggs, dairy and meat-based broths) and focuses solely on plant-based proteins, fruits and vegetables.
- Flexitarian: A mix of vegan and vegetarian diets but with the added flexibility of semi-occasional meats and animal products.
- Paleo: The Stone Age diet that focuses on fruits, vegetables, lean meats, fish, nuts, eggs and seeds while giving up grains, legumes, dairy, refined sugars, added salt and high-processed foods.
- Pegan: A dietary mix of paleo and vegan, with 75% of your diet focused on plants and 25% focused on meats, eggs and fish.
- DASH: A nutritional plan that helps lower the risk of high blood pressure by consuming higher amounts of potassium and less sodium.
- The Whole30 diet: An elimination diet that gives up dairy, grains and legumes but focuses on fresh fruits and vegetables, eggs and lean proteins, some fats and nuts.
2. Complete two 45-minute workouts, one of which must be outdoors.
Attempting to establish a consistent exercise habit by engaging in two 45-minute workouts daily may not be the most effective approach. This holds true even for individuals who were highly active prior to undertaking the 75 Hard Challenge, as managing two prolonged workout sessions each day can pose difficulties.
Over the course of a 75-day period, sustaining such a high level of physical activity may lead to overexertion. Notably, the rules of the 75 Hard Challenge do not address the importance of active recovery or any post-workout recovery measures.
A more balanced strategy involves considering activities like yoga, stretching, walking, or steady-state jump rope as valid forms of exercise to contribute to your daily goal. By incorporating these forms of active rest, the notion of exercising twice a day becomes more achievable for a broader range of individuals.
Take a progress picture.
We’re on the fence about this aspect of 75 Hard.
For some, progress photos can be very motivating. For others, they can be equally triggering. So, we recommend using your judgment for this one.
We think it’s also worth calling out this 75 Hard Challenge rule because it contradicts the claim that this challenge is about mental toughness and not physical appearance. If the challenge focused on mental improvement and wellness, physical changes to your body would be irrelevant.
Drink 1 gallon of water.
While we strongly advocate for staying hydrated, the 75 Hard rule regarding water intake is a notable example of the challenge not accommodating the individual needs of its participants. Barbie Boules, RDN, and founder of Barbie Boules Longevity Wellness, points out that mandating four litres (a gallon) of water is excessive. She emphasizes that such a generalized recommendation could pose risks for certain individuals.
Boules suggests a more personalized approach by advising individuals to consume half of their body weight in ounces of water. For instance, someone weighing 200 pounds wouldn’t need to reach the total of 128 ounces in a gallon of water.
It’s important to note that if you’re sweating profusely during your workouts, your body may require additional water intake throughout the day.
Read 10 pages of a book (audiobooks not included).
This rule is commendable, and we see no inherent drawbacks; in fact, we appreciate it. With the manageable reading quota, it serves as an ideal starting point for habit-building.
It’s important to highlight that fulfilling this daily reading goal through audiobooks or podcasts is entirely acceptable. The emphasis is on continuous learning, and these alternative formats still contribute to that objective.
Furthermore, no alterations to the program are allowed. If you miss any of your daily goals, your progress resets to day one.
“You will be tempted to try to change things a little to suit you and your ‘special lifestyle,’” writes Frisella. “But that right there is the root of every problem in your life,” he claims.
The 75 Hard program purports to elevate multiple facets of your overall well-being, such as:
Successfully navigating the program entails reading a minimum of 750 pages, adhering to a structured dietary regimen, ensuring proper hydration, and capturing physical progress through a daily collection of photos.
There are potential benefits to following a well-defined wellness plan, according to experts. Noah Quezada, a registered dietitian nutritionist in Colorado, emphasizes the program’s encouragement of consistency, a crucial element in achieving results in health and fitness plans.
Mindset coach Carrie Veatch, having recently completed the program, expresses enjoyment, and believes that participating in 75 Hard can help individuals eliminate negativity from their lives while appreciating the true capabilities of their minds and bodies through commitment and follow-through.
Sophie Banyard, a personal trainer, and kettlebell coach, acknowledges the program’s challenges but deems it achievable. She shares that 75 Hard taught her valuable lessons about time management and credits it as the catalyst for her decision to completely abstain from alcohol, a choice she regards as one of the best she’s ever made.
Experts highlight potential drawbacks to the 75 Hard program. While Noah Quezada appreciates its consistency, he expresses concerns about the program’s rigidity, particularly its strict dietary limitations and the absence of “cheat meals.” Quezada warns that this inflexibility may make long-term adherence challenging and could potentially foster an unhealthy relationship with food.
The all-or-nothing nature of 75 Hard raises concerns about its lack of allowance for uncertainty, as noted by Saara Haapanen, Ph.D., a performance coach and certified personal trainer. She emphasizes that the program fails to impart skills for dealing with setbacks and establishing sustainable behaviours, offering no room for self-compassion.
Additionally, 75 Hard lacks specific guidance on fitness or nutrition plans. While this flexibility allows participants to tailor their approach based on individual preferences, it can pose challenges for those with limited knowledge in nutrition or fitness. Jackie Kaminski, a registered dietitian nutritionist, and nutrition instructor notes that this absence of structured guidance may leave individuals struggling to create an effective routine aligned with their goals.
Potential Health Risks
It’s crucial to highlight that 75 Hard lacks scientific backing. The program’s duration of 75 days was chosen by its creator, Andy Frisella, based on his own intuition, as mentioned in an episode of the 75 Hard podcast.
While the benefits of regular physical activity are well-established, the absence of rest days over the 75-day period may pose a risk of overtraining injuries, depending on the chosen workouts and the participant’s current fitness level. Dr. Haapanen notes that the program’s inherent emphasis on perfection might have adverse effects on certain individuals.
Brooke Cavalla, a certified prenatal and postnatal exercise specialist and personal trainer in California, cautions against programs designed as “X-day challenges,” stating that they often involve unsustainable and, in some cases, unhealthy weight loss and lifestyle habits. She advises steering clear of programs with a set end date, as these can lead to issues such as yo-yo dieting, poor self-esteem, discouragement, body image concerns, and even disordered eating habits when the program cannot be sustained as a permanent lifestyle change.
75 Hard FAQs:
Is the 75 Hard Challenge Safe?
One notable aspect of 75 Hard is its failure to account for the diverse lifestyles, fitness levels, and individual dispositions of its participants. Can it be completed safely? Absolutely. However, it requires individuals to listen to their bodies, ensure proper nutrition, and prioritize rest based on their unique needs.
Is Modifying the 75 Hard Challenge Considered Cheating?
According to Frisella, any modification constitutes cheating. He asserts that modifying the program compromises genuine success, likening it to a broader life issue of constantly adjusting plans and goals to achieve a sense of completion without realizing one’s full potential.
Contrary to this perspective, we advocate for a more flexible approach. Listening to your body, making adjustments based on personal needs, and staying consistent are valid paths to progress. Celebrate victories, even if they deviate from the rigid guidelines. Whether it’s drinking 80 ounces of water on certain days, moving your body for any duration, or enjoying an audiobook while cooking—these are all wins.
How Do I Get Started?
If you’ve decided to embark on the 75 Hard Challenge, here are some quick tips to kickstart your journey:
- Write down the 5 rules and keep them visible.
- Create a visual progress chart.
- Plan your meals and engage in meal prep.
- Choose workouts that are convenient and portable.
- Establish a routine and adhere to it.
- Have a backup plan.
What Should the Workouts Look Like?
The choice of workouts is entirely up to you. However, selecting convenient exercises that can be done anywhere is advisable. A jump rope is an excellent tool for the 75 Hard Challenge, offering versatility for indoor or outdoor use, at the gym, or while on the go, fitting easily into your bag.
If you are interested in learning more about it, Priyankaa Joshi document her journey and you can read it here.
Book a session with one of our professionals if you need guidance in your health and fitness journey here. We promise we can make your 2024 health kick a lot easier than the 75 Hard Challenge but with the same (or even better) results.