If you've seen the 12-3-30 workout or 25-7-2 workout challenges, chances are you'll also have come across the 75 Hard Challenge. It’s had two billion views to date under the hashtag #75HardChallenge, but don’t be fooled by its popularity.
For those who aren’t familiar, the 75-day plan was created by motivational speaker, podcaster, author and supplement company owner Andy Frisella back in 2019 as a ‘transformative mental toughness program’.
You should consult your GP or other health care professional before attempting the 75 Hard Challenge.
On his website, he writes: ‘75 HARD is the only program that can permanently change your life...from your way of thinking, to the level of discipline you approach every single task in front of you with.’ The website also claims that more than 100,000 people have ‘completely changed their lives’ thanks to the programme. Sounds pretty impressive, right?
Truth be told, the challenge isn’t backed up by science (read on for an example), and many argue that the hardcore routine is unsustainable, restrictive and potentially dangerous. It's only with access to and 24-7 guidance from the experts that I decided to give it a go and find out the truth, so that you guys don't have to. Here’s what happened.
Content warning: overexercise and restrictive eating mentioned.
The 75 Hard Challenge rules
The 75 Hard Challenge is made up of six ‘non-negotiable rules’ which have to be completed for 75 days straight:
- Stick to a diet, any diet
- Absolutely no alcohol or cheat meals are allowed (it doesn’t specify what counts as a cheat meal)
- Complete two 45-minute workouts per day (one of them has to be outside, no matter the weather)
- Drink 4.5 litres of water each day
- Take a daily progress photo
- Read 10 pages of inspirational non-fiction each day
Think that’s a lot? There’s more. If you don’t manage to complete these six tasks every day, you have to start back at day one. Frisella acknowledges it might seem intense but if you get through it, he claims you’ll ‘come out on the other side as ‘the hardest, most disciplined version of yourself.’
75 Hard Challenge benefits
Shooting for all of the above rules is definitely not suitable for everyone (more on that later), but there are some rewards to be reaped from a few, as well as the notion of implementing a routine for 75 days (so long as it's nowhere near as gruelling).
- It could help you develop healthy habits.
‘It will give you a sense of direction and structure,’ Alex Parren, a nutritionist at Superzeros, tells us. ‘The rule about reading non-fiction, for example, could encourage you to carve out time in your day to boost your knowledge as well as helping to reduce stress and screen time.’
- Your fitness levels will improve.
‘Following a good nutrition and exercise programme for 75 days (albeit not as intense as this one) will certainly improve your fitness and weight management,’ adds Eleanor Thrupp, a nutritional therapist at Innermost, ‘Drinking as much water as you can (not necessarily as much as 4.5L, however) will also keep you hydrated and help you feel more energised throughout the day.’
- It’s customisable.
Unlike other more prescriptive challenges, there’s an element of choice with the 75 Hard Challenge, says fourfive ambassador and celeb PT Jenny Francis-Townson. ‘You choose the diet that suits you, you choose the exercises and you choose the books to read. This makes it more personal to you, which is a good thing.’ As we always say, every body is individual.
75 Hard Challenge risks
Despite glowing reports from the TikTok world, all of the experts I spoke to for this feature agree that the risks outweigh the benefits with the 75 Hard Challenge. Here’s why:
- Scientific evidence is lacking.
‘Frisella doesn’t provide scientific evidence for how the components in the programme develop or prove mental toughness, so it’s really a collection of arbitrary rules to follow each day,’ says psychologist and eating disorder specialist Rachel Evans.
Parren agrees, highlighting the ‘drinking 4.5 litres of water a day’ rule. ‘A person’s water intake should be tailored to their own unique needs including their body weight, muscle mass, how much they exercise, the climate and how much they sweat,’ he says. ‘For many people, drinking 4.5 litres is way too much and could have negative physiological consequences.’
- The 75 Hard Challenge could potentially put you at risk of injury.
The fact that the 75 Hard Challenge doesn’t include any rest days is a huge no-no, says personal trainer Hannah Lewin. ‘Rest and recovery is a vital part of progress and to not include it in the programme is incredibly irresponsible in my opinion,’ she says. Going ham without any rest days will also put you at a much higher risk of injury.
Plus, because the fitness rule is open to interpretation - you can choose what workouts you do, some might go overboard with exercise and aim for routines which are unsafe. There’s no mention of warm ups or cool downs either, which also increases the risk of injury.
- The 75 Hard Challenge could harm your relationship with food.
‘We know most diets that restrict calorie intake and list "good" and "bad" foods are unsustainable in the long term,’ says Evans. And, like the fitness rule, the programme doesn’t specify which "diet" to follow. ‘This is an issue because it might lead some people to drastically reduce their calorie intake or cut out a whole food group,’ says Evans. ‘This could be dangerous for their health, especially if they’ve increased the amount of exercise they’re doing as part of the challenge.’
- Your mental health may suffer.
For Sarah Cannon, psychological wellbeing practitioner at Living Well UK, the mental health implications of pursuing the 75 Hard Challenge are concerning. ‘It plays into all or nothing thinking – either you’re mentally tough or you’re failing, there’s no middle ground,’ she tells Women’s Health. ‘If you can’t keep up with the intensity of the challenge, you might feel like you’re not good enough, and it could have a detrimental impact on your self-worth.’
And don’t get us started on taking daily ‘progress pictures’. ‘This level of self-surveillance and comparison could result in poor self-esteem and body image, which is ironic considering the challenge is supposed to increase your self-worth,’ registered nutritionist Kirsten Oddy tells Women's Health.
Who should avoid the 75 Hard Challenge?
Anyone who thinks they might be triggered by implementing diet rules, rigid exercise habits and taking progress photos, says Evans. If you’ve previously dealt with an eating disorder, body dysmorphia or exercise addiction, it most definitely isn’t for you.
Lewin also stresses that those with existing injuries or health conditions should consult a medical professional before embarking on the challenge.
With all this in mind, I approached the 75 Hard Challenge with caution, vowing to listen to my body and not push myself too far, and always abiding by the experts' advice. Take note, and please do not try this at home.
5 things I learnt from attempting the 75 Hard Challenge
1. Too much of a good thing does exist when it comes to exercise
The first and most blatant thing that came from me doing the 75 Hard Challenge was just how important rest days are. Even though one of my daily 45-minutes workouts was a walk in the park, after three weeks of zero days off, my body was struggling and I started to suffer with knee pain and sore Achilles tendons. I was also exhausted.
Francis-Townson says this isn’t surprising. ‘A lack of rest means that our muscles don’t have time to repair and inflammation doesn’t have time to go down, resulting in pain and injuries.’
Lewin concurs that overexercising will do you more harm than good, making the very valid point that if you’re too sore or fatigued to do a workout to the best of your ability, it kind of defeats the point of doing a challenge in the first place.
So after three weeks, I decided to cut down on the amount of intense HIIT workouts I was doing (from five a week, down to two a week) and stuck to more low impact workouts like yoga and Pilates. Although this helped, I still found exercising every single day was overkill, so after about four weeks I started to give myself one rest day a week. I don’t believe you should force yourself to work out if you’re not feeling it, and despite the fact I’ve always exercised regularly, I knew it wasn’t doing me any favours.
Here's how weeks one and three compared.
- Week 1:
- Monday: F45 class
- Tuesday: F45 class
- Wednesday: 5K run
- Thursday: F45 class
- Friday: F45 class
- Saturday: F45 class
- Sunday: 5K run
- Week 3:
- Monday: 1 hour Yoga class
- Tuesday: 45 min Pilates YouTube video
- Wednesday: Walk/jog
- Thursday: Yoga YouTube video
- Friday: F45 class
- Saturday: Pilates YouTube video
- Sunday: F45 class
If you are thinking about attempting the 75 Hard Challenge, Parren strongly advises seeking guidance from a qualified fitness professional to ensure your workout schedule is safe and effective.
2. Diets don’t work
I’m not one for diets. I’ll admit I’ve previously been sucked in by diet culture, cutting out carbs and denying myself ‘naughty’ foods (does anyone actually know what that means?) but now, I’m in a place where I firmly believe you should eat in a way that brings you joy.
For the purpose of this challenge, though, my interpretation of a ‘diet’ was to go dairy-free for its duration. My thinking was that dairy doesn’t always agree with me (I’ve had stomach issues from having too much in the past) so ditching it for 75 days might actually be beneficial. Plus, there are so many great alternatives these days (big up dairy-free Ben & Jerry’s), so I didn’t find it too tricky.
The real struggle on the nutrition side of things was the ‘no cheat meals’ rule. I’d say 80% of my diet is made up of ‘healthy’ food – I eat plenty of fruit and veg, I make sure I get enough protein and I’m mindful of my fibre intake.
At the same time, I love pizza, burgers and doughnuts, and while the rules don’t specify exactly what qualifies as a ‘cheat meal’, I’m not sure these would be approved of, and avoiding them was tough. My boyfriend and I like to eat out on the weekends, so we either had to go to ‘healthy’ restaurants or I had to opt for superfood salads while he devoured pizza, garlic bread and brownies. Not the one.
Come week four, I could not stop thinking about sweet food. I tried to satisfy my cravings with 85% dark chocolate but it definitely didn’t cut the mustard. As soon as the challenge came to an end, I went overboard with all the foods I had denied myself. This is to be expected, says Evans. ‘Having food that’s off-limits can often make you crave it more and you’re likely to overeat those foods when given the opportunity.’
Cannon isn’t a fan of cheat meals either. ‘The use of the phrase “cheat meal” assigns morality to food,’ she explains. ‘If we go ‘off track’ and eat a food we’ve told ourselves we can’t have, this can lead to feelings of guilt and shame, and may even lead to cycles of overeating and restriction.’
A balanced diet has room for all the foods you enjoy, the experts argue, and I couldn’t agree more.
3. Giving up alcohol can be really empowering
One aspect of the 75 Hard Challenge I did find beneficial was ditching booze. I’m not a huge drinker but I do enjoy a few cocktails on a Friday night and for me, drinking is an inevitable part of socialising, so I didn’t have much faith that I’d manage 75 days T total. Once I got started, though, it was surprisingly easy and enjoyable.
I found I had more energy for my workouts, I was sleeping well, and I felt less anxious about the little things. I was also pleasantly surprised to learn I could handle social situations without the crutch of a drink. Instead, I opted for alcohol-free beer, or I mixed myself a non-alcohol gin (big up Pentire for that) and tonic. It’s not something I’ll continue with because I prefer the taste of real alcohol, but it was an eye-opening experience to know that I can enjoy social events just as much without it, and I’m glad I did it.
4. You’ve got to listen to your body and find what works for you
Unsurprisingly, a fair few of the rules didn’t work for me. For instance, taking progress photos was very triggering so I cut them out after week one, drinking 4.5 litres of water was way too much (I managed 2 litres on average), and who really has time to work out for 90 minutes every day (I racked up around half of that)?
I didn’t like how all-encompassing it was, either. Life is about balance, but with the 75 Hard Challenge, it’s easy to neglect other important areas of your life like relationships, hobbies and socialising. Plus, the fact you have to start from scratch if you miss a day is, frankly, ludicrous. You wouldn't be human if you didn't slip up every now and then, and that doesn't warrant a punishment.
‘It’s setting individuals up to fail as life is unpredictable and can often get in the way of best-made plans,’ says Cannon. ‘You'll begin to view your success only through completing these strict rules created by someone else, instead of what is of real value and importance to you.’ In other words, making some positive lifestyle changes is all well and good but following a set of rules laid out by someone who doesn’t actually know anything about you isn’t the best way to go about it.
Evans adds: ‘It’s a much better idea to tune in to how you’re feeling and decide what would benefit your mental and physical health on any given day.’
Lewin’s recommendations? Take some time to think about your own routine and what your personal aims are. ‘Once you’ve assessed this, get the advice of a qualified professional who can help you with a plan to get there.’ As we always say, you’re much more likely to stick to something if it suits your lifestyle.
5. ‘Healthy’ habits aren’t so healthy if they’re impacting your mental health
On paper, I was the epitome of “health” during the challenge. I was exercising a lot, eating as much nutritious food as I could, drinking plenty of water and forgoing alcohol. If I posted progress photos, you might have even seen some physical change but mentally, the challenge was taking its toll, and that's what's important.
I was super busy with work and had various things going on in my personal life, so trying to follow all six rules every single day was draining.
‘We have to consider at what point health-enhancing behaviours actually become unhealthy,’ says Evans. ‘If someone is stressing over completing the tasks each day and their mental or physical health has been negatively impacted, then it’s a red flag that what they’re doing is no longer healthy.’
She’s right, and with this advice in mind, on day 50, I decided enough was enough and quit the challenge. Do I feel guilty for not completing the 75 days? Not at all. The challenge was no longer serving me, and that certainly doesn’t make me a failure, nor would it you.
I can confirm I wouldn't recommend the 75 Hard Challenge. Who knew? Granted, I am taking some positives away from the experience like reading more and drinking less but that’s as far as it goes. There are plenty more effective, less extreme ways of challenging yourself and working on your health and fitness.
‘Ultimately, you must be kind to yourself and recognise that you can work towards your goals with what you have available to you at the time. It doesn’t need to be all or nothing. Progress over perfection,’ says Cannon. Say it louder.
If you, or anyone you know, is struggling with an eating disorder, contact Beat, the UK-based charity who hope to end the pain and suffering caused by eating disorders.
T: 0808 801 0677E: firstname.lastname@example.org, under-18s: email@example.com
The founder says that there is not a “weight loss guarantee,” but that on day one, you'll look one way; on day 30, you'll look another way; and on day 75, you'll definitely look and feel different than on day one.What to do after finishing 75 Hard? ›
For one, Phase 1 is the program that immediately follows 75 HARD. You must complete the 75 HARD program before moving on to Phase 1. Another important thing to know is that if you fail at any time throughout Phase 1, you have to restart on Day 1 of Phase 1.Is the 75 Hard Challenge worth it? ›
The 75 Hard Challenge is a viral trend involving strict rules that are promoted as benefiting mental, physical, and emotional strength. While you'll likely feel accomplished if you can stick to it for the entire 75 days, chances are you'll be exhausted and potentially unsure of how to proceed on day 76.
This healthy eating plan helps you lose up to 7.5 pounds in the first 75 days, and it's easy to follow if you are serious about losing weight fast. Each of the 75 meals in this low-carb diet serves a specific purpose for maximizing weight loss results and general body transformations.What are the negatives of 75 Hard Challenge? ›
Potential Drawbacks of 75 Hard
“It's very restrictive in terms of diet and doesn't allow for any 'cheat meals.' This [rigidity] can make it difficult to stick to [in the] long term and may even lead to an unhealthy relationship with food,” he says.
The 75 hard could be harmful to your mental or physical health. There are no professionals or accountability making sure you are making diet and fitness choices that are good for your body. Excessive exercise and restrictive dieting can have harmful effects including adrenal fatigue and your hormone health.How many people have completed 75 Hard? ›
On his website, he writes: '75 HARD is the only program that can permanently change your life...from your way of thinking, to the level of discipline you approach every single task in front of you with.' The website also claims that more than 100,000 people have 'completely changed their lives' thanks to the programme.Will 75 Hard change your life? ›
If you have the time and inclination, 75 Hard might be good way to kick-start some positive change in your life. However, you will have to do research on fitness and nutrition programs to ensure you follow a sensible plan.How often should you do 75 Hard? ›
5 rules of 75 HARD
Workout twice a day every day, for at least 45 minutes per day. One workout must be outdoors. Drink 1 gallon of water per day. Take progress pictures every single day.
If you eat a pretty healthy diet and then start counting macros or cutting out sugar and alcohol when you start 75 Hard, you probably are going to lose weight. An hour and a half a day is also a lot of exercise—so if you aren't moving around that much now, it's possible you could see some weight loss.
All is fair game. The only rule is that you move your body for 45 minutes a day, reserving one day a week for active rest. Active rest essentially entails any low-impact, low-intensity activity like walking, swimming, or yoga.Do you have to workout every day on 75 Hard? ›
Complete two 45-minute workouts
Throughout the duration of the 75 Hard Challenge, individuals are expected to complete two 45-minute workouts every day, one inside and one outside (regardless of the weather).
If you want to do Hard 75, pick a science-backed healthy diet like the Mediterranean Diet or the Dash Diet, rather than a weight-loss diet or a highly-restrictive diet like the Military Diet or Whole30.Is 75 Hard bad for mental health? ›
With only six rules, 75 Hard may seem like a straightforward challenge, but experts say its rigid and restrictive nature could do unintended negative harm. They caution that it's also not suitable for those prone to anxiety or obsessive tendencies, as well as those with other mental health issues.Can you do 75 Hard twice? ›
How can I do 75 Hard again? Congratulations on finishing 75 Hard! If you still want to restart 75 Hard, the you can go back and restart 75 Hard by editing your progress in the settings screen.Is there something easier than 75 Hard? ›
The Alternative 75 Soft Challenge
The 75 Soft Challenge has four rules, which are to be followed for 75 days as well: Eat well and only drink on social occasions. Train for 45 minutes per day and include one day of active recovery per week. Drink 3 liters of water per day.
Yes, since it doesn't have sugars, a diet soda is okay. It doesn't count toward your water intake though.Can you eat sweets on 75 Hard Challenge? ›
Follow a strict diet - no cheat meals for the entire 75 days. Calorie counting is not essential but the diet must eliminate chocolate, cake, soft drinks, and alcohol.What is the next phase after 75 Hard? ›
After completing Andy Frisella's 75 Hard program and seeing the life changing results that came from it, it was only natural to keep things going. 75 Hard is the prerequisite for a larger mental toughness program called Live Hard.Is a cold shower part of 75 Hard? ›
The 3 extra tasks for 75 Hard Phase 1: 5-minute cold shower. 10 minutes of visualisation.
As we age, people usually experience muscle atrophy, loss of bone density, and a reduction in liver and kidney cells. Additionally, the loss of tissue reduces the amount of water in the body. All of this can result in weight loss that may be noticeable, but not necessarily cause for alarm.What age is the hardest to lose weight? ›
Typically from the age of 40, testosterone levels drop. As testosterone is responsible for regulating fat distribution, muscle strength and muscle mass, less testosterone can make it harder to burn calories. Both men and women produce less growth hormone from middle age, another hormone involved in regulating body fat.What age is easier to lose weight? ›
The finding of the study suggests that people in middle age certainly gain weight and it is harder for them to lose it, but slow metabolism is not the real reason behind it. It was revealed that from the 20s to the 50s the energy expenditure is the most stable.How much water should I drink for 75 soft? ›
With 75 Soft, the rules are as follows: One 45-minute workout per day (one day of active recovery each week) Drink approximately one gallon of water per day.Is there a free app for 75 Hard? ›
The 75 HARD App is the easiest and most convenient way to stay on track as you go through 75 HARD. Plus, you can set custom daily reminders to complete each task ... so you'll never forget anything and be forced to start over again! The 75 HARD App is available in both the Google Play Store and Apple App Store.Can you drink alcohol on 75 soft? ›
In the 75 Soft challenge, the diet is much looser with far more latitude. The rule is to “eat well,” and you can drink alcohol as long as it's for social occasions only.How can I not gain weight after 75 Hard? ›
- Eat less calories than you burn. ...
- Cut (or reduce) sugar, fast foods, soft drinks, and alcohol. ...
- Increase your protein intake. ...
- Drink way more water. ...
- Walk more. ...
- Exercise daily.
While there is no way to fully “stop the clock,” it's possible for many older adults to increase muscle strength with exercise, which can help maintain mobility and independence into later life.How active should you be at 75? ›
Adults aged 65 and older need: At least 150 minutes a week (for example, 30 minutes a day, 5 days a week) of moderate-intensity activity such as brisk walking. Or they need 75 minutes a week of vigorous-intensity activity such as hiking, jogging, or running. At least 2 days a week of activities that strengthen muscles.How to lose weight from 85 to 75? ›
Right now my weight is 85 kg I want to reduce it to 75 kg what are the measures I need to adopt to reduce it to a certain level. Hello, you need to reduce your daily carbohydrates and fat intake, increase protein in your diets. Eat small meals (5 - 6 meals) throughout the day, after every 2-3 hours.
Remember, there's no magic bullet for weight loss. The key to losing weight is burning more calories than you consume. Choose a variety of healthy foods — such as fruits, vegetables, whole grains and lean sources of protein — and include physical activity in your daily routine.How to lose weight from 75 to 60? ›
- Remember to set realistic weight loss goals. ...
- Know your calories. ...
- Eat a healthy breakfast. ...
- Small meals throughout the day keep extra calories away. ...
- Eat smaller portions in smaller plates. ...
- Consume home-cooked food.
- Beans. “Becoming a bean lover can help you lose weight and whittle your middle,” registered dietitian Cynthia Sass told Today. ...
- Swap your beef for salmon. ...
- Yogurt. ...
- Red bell peppers. ...
- Broccoli. ...
- Edamame. ...
- Diluted vinegar.
Apple cider vinegar isn't likely to be effective for weight loss. Proponents of apple cider vinegar claim that it has numerous health benefits and that drinking a small amount or taking a supplement before meals helps curb appetite and burn fat. However, there's little scientific support for these claims.Does walking count as outdoor workout 75 Hard? ›
The 75 Hard Challenge rules don't mention anything about active recovery or any post-workout recovery for that matter. A good approach is to count active rest, such as yoga, stretching, walking, or steady-state jump rope as forms of exercise to add to your daily goal.How long does it take to see results from working out hard? ›
Some people will feel stronger in just 2-4 weeks. For others, depending on their muscle fiber makeup, other genetic qualities, and the quality of their workouts, results in strength are generally seen in 8-12 weeks, according to the researchers. Skeletal muscles aren't the only muscles that get stronger with exercise.Does walking count as a workout on 75 Hard? ›
Does a 45 minute outdoor walk count as my outdoor workout? Yes! Just make sure that you're walking with intention, not just out for a leisurely stroll.Why am I not seeing results from working out? ›
You're not varying your workouts
You're body needs new stimuli and progressive training if you want to see results. A more developed cardiovascular system will also increase your ability to recover faster. Both HIIT and steady-state cardio are essential even if your main goal is to build muscle and strength.
When you finish an effective workout, you should feel tired but not exhausted. A good workout will give you energy and make you feel stronger when you leave. After a high-intensity set, your heart rate is up and you're out of breath. Recovery should be fairly efficient, leaving you ready to continue your exercises.Can you see results in 3 weeks? ›
If you're trying to lose weight through exercise, you may start seeing results in as little as two to three weeks, says NASM-certified personal trainer Guychard Codio, cofounder of New York City Personal Training. For other people, it may take longer.
No matter what your age, you can improve your fitness.
If it's been a long time since you've exercised and you're feeling less than fit, you might think that it's too late to make a change. But you're wrong. You can improve your fitness at any age.
75 Hard Diet
You could choose low-carb, Whole30, vegan, or carnivore. The fact that he emphasizes “no cheat meals” is also concerning. That view of food is harsh and can lead to disordered eating. Because it really emphasizes the 75 days, it's not ideal for someone trying to make permanent lifestyle changes.
In a nutshell, the 75 day program requires you to...
No alcohol or cheat meals. (For me, I also stopped drinking soda.) Two 45-minute workouts (with at least one being outside). Drink one gallon of water.
Continue everything on 75 Hard: Two 45-minute workouts each day, at least 3 hours apart, and one must be outdoors uncovered no matter the weather. Stick to a diet of your choice. No alcohol or cheat meals.What happens if you miss a day of 75 Hard? ›
If you miss one of the five daily tasks in 75 Hard, you must start over at day one. 75 Hard is definitely not a diet plan — and it's not a fitness plan either, according to Andy Frisella, creator of 75 Hard and host of the "Real AF" podcast.