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5 Legit Reasons You Should Avoid the 75 Hard Challenge

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Andy Frisella came up with the 75 Hard Challenge as a way to boost people’s confidence, grit, and habits, but we’re seeing it as a dangerous, all-or-nothing approach to health and fitness. Below, we’ll look at the 75 Hard Challenge including the (pretty crazy) rules on diet and workouts.

woman's 6 pack with the text overlay - 5 legit reasons to skip 75 hard challenge & what to do instead

The 75 Hard Challenge took off from a podcast and now has a staggering 31 million views on TikTok under the hashtags #75HardChallenge and #75Hard! So we wanted to dig into this “Mental Toughness Program” to see how it benefited or harmed your overall physical and mental health.

And spoiler alert — this program is dangerous, unsustainable, and can lead to disordered eating along with a lower sense of self. But we’re jumping ahead, let’s look at the details.

What is the 75 Day Hard?

The #75HARD Challenge is the newest diet and exercise trend all over the Internet. The challenge lasts 75 days of following clearly set rules about your diet, workouts, and personal development. There are no cheat days allowed, and if participants do break even 1 rule, they start back at day one.

Who started 75 HARD?

Andy Frisella, podcaster, author, and supplement company owner, started the 75 Hard Challenge.

We also believe he is a marketing genius because while this plan is free, he’s building a brand and following around it. Which he can then sell products or services to later — if you succeed, here’s a product for the next level. If you fail? Here’s a product to help you succeed.

What are the rules of 75 Hard?

There are 6 rules in the 75 Hard challenge outlined by Frisella his podcast, RealAF.

  1. Follow a diet: You can choose any diet – like Whole 30, Keto, Low Carb, Eating Clean, etc.
  2. Two 45-minute workouts; one has to be outside: He doesn’t have a specific program, but you are suppose to do 2 workouts 45+ minute workouts per day. The outdoor workout has to happen — even if it’s raining, 100 degrees, or -10 degrees outside. 
  3. No alcohol, and no cheat meals: If you cheat, even a little, back to day 1.
  4. Take a progress picture every day: This is to help you see your progress.
  5. Drink one gallon of water: This is about setting the habit he says.
  6. Read 10 pages of a book (audiobooks don’t count): This needs to be something from personal development not fiction.

There are no compromises, substitutions, or flexible options to these rules. You have to do all 6 for all 75 days perfectly. Mind you, these are all rules he’s come up with on his own without an outside team of dietitians, personal trainers, or therapists.

Sound too intense for you? (We agree!) Join us for #57Doable instead!

21 Day Fix Crockpot Turkey Chili Recipe in a bowl

75 Hard Diet

For the challenge, you can pick any type of diet you want. You just have to follow it 100%.

We didn’t want to judge too harshly, so we started researching what experts had to say about the guidelines on the 75 Hard Diet.

Leslie Langevin, MS, author of The Anti-Inflammatory Kitchen Cookbook, said,

I think this is an extreme way to develop some better health habits. I think they should be tailored individually and that rules shouldn’t be so clear cut.

Registered dietitian Emily Tills, MS, RDN, CDN, agreed and said,

Although the idea is interesting and can seem like it’s flexible because you choose what diet you’re going to do, in the end it’s still going to be restrictive.

Langevin also mentioned that the diet could lead to a mindset of rigidity and deprivation. Ellis mentioned that since it’s so strict for 75 days, the person may not be able to maintain the diet after the challenge and go back to their old habits.

Going on this line of thinking, Ayana Ali, a licensed clinical social worker and therapist, said

Diets that severely restrict food often result in the creation of a negative relationship between individuals and how they nourish themselves.

When you start categorizing food as “bad”, you start focusing on them and craving them more. Then, once you’ve eaten them, you feel guilt and shame around it which just leads you to repeat the system.

The worst part?

Ali says, “Extremely restrictive eating means you may never actually learn healthy eating habits or honor your body’s desires.”

Kati Morton, a therapist specializing in eating disorders, also agreed saying. “For my folks who already struggle with eating disorder behavior, this could be a catalyst to throw us back into it.” 

Breanne Freeman

What to Do Instead

So we suggest choosing a 80/20 approach to food. If you want to track your macros, you can even do that and allow yourself flexibility for your favorite foods.
 
 
Both are very affordable and something you can maintain over the long haul.
 
You may also like our podcast with Randa (from Randa Nutrition) about going from fad diets to fueling herself with healthy, delicious foods!
female abs

75 Hard Workouts

Creating a workout routine is an awesome goal, but there is a flaw in 75 Hard Workouts. The idea that you have to do 2 workouts per day, and one HAS to be outside, is just too extreme for most people physically and emotionally.

ACE-certified trainer Rachel MacPherson said two 45-minute workouts a day is a lot for anyone just starting out, and she also mentioned going outside to workout isn’t always feasible. 

She also went on to say:

It’s much better to accept that some days won’t be perfect, but as long as you’re making strides toward your goals, you are on the right track.

Plus, the challenge doesn’t consider underlying health conditions, previous injuries, or current fitness levels. He does mention seeing a doctor first, but this mentality of extreme all-or-nothing puts you at greater risk of injury.

Albert R. Matheny, certified strength and conditioning specialist and owner of the SoHo Strength Lab in New York City, also said that the plan is nonspecific and that can lead to a great risk of injury as well. He also went on to mention that the workout plan is not sustainable, and that you should start small and gradually increase your workouts.

back of kim and kalee legs taking stairs

What to Do Instead

MacPherson suggests taking small steps towards your clearly defined goals is the best approach to lasting results.

We also love Beachbody workouts because you can skip the commute and workout at home, there are 800+ unique workouts available, and there is something for every level of fitness.

The 21 Day Fix is a great one to start with because it’s 30 minutes a day, a new type of workout each day of the week, and offers low impact modifications.

Also, studies have found sleep can be just as effective as working out if you’re not getting the recommend 7-9 hours a night.

The Water Rule

Even the water rule of a gallon a day is too generalized. The general recommendation is to take half your body weight and drinking that many ounces of water. So if you weigh 176 lbs, you’d drink 88 ounces of water a day.

frustrated woman in activewear

75 Hard Mental Toughness

The program promises to help you gain mental toughness — even promoted as a “TRANSFORMATIVE MENTAL TOUGHNESS PROGRAM” — but this couldn’t be farther from the truth.

Ali found that the plan could be more detrimental to your mental health than beneficial.

Being extremely regimented can damage your mental health. — Ayana Ali

She also found that the idea that you have to follow this super specific plan for 75 days perfectly or feel ashamed or like you failed can lead to self-deprecation and overall worse emotional health.

Results

Needless to say, if you commit to a workout and diet plan, you’ll see results. You just could see results without killing yourself over these arbitrary rules as well.

There is also a high chance that if you “fail” during the 75 days, you may find yourself indulging in all of those foods you’ve missed while skipping your workouts. I mean, who hasn’t said, “Well, tomorrow’s Monday, I’ll start then.” Then the binging and restricting cycle starts.

The same can happen even after finishing up the 75 days. You may feel like you’re in control and now can enjoy a massive cheat meal. Then, you have this all or nothing, food-labeling mentality, you can’t shake and something that should make you feel good has you spinning out of control.

Sustainability

So I guess you can see we hardly believe that this “program” is sustainable.

Hannah Daugherty, CPT-NASM, ACE, who serves on the advisory board for Fitter Living, also mentioned the negative effects it could have overtime.

This ‘challenge’ can lead to disordered eating, unsafe exercise routines, and is not sustainable for a long period of time. It is very unstructured, with many details left open-ended. For instance, what exactly is a ‘diet’? This word can—and will—mean something different to everyone.

We also believe that by aiming to be perfect in our habits, which we’ll never attain, you’ll be less likely to accept that life and your goals are a moving target and give yourself grace when you need it.

If you fail one small aspect of the plan you need to start back at ground zero. This is overkill. It’s much better to accept that some days won’t be perfect but as long as you are making strides towards your goals, you are on the right track. — Rachel MacPherson

the reasons not to do 75Hard Challenge outlined as text overlay on the image

5 Reasons Not to The 75 Hard Challenge

  1. It’s not sustainable long-term and could have you yo-yoing back into bad habits.
  2. The two 45-minute workouts could impede on your sleep, time with family, and increase your risk of injury.
  3. The idea of all-or-nothing can be detrimental to your mental health.
  4. The rules are arbitrary and set by a marketer that doesn’t have a background in health or fitness or research to back his rules.
  5. You CAN get results with a plan that fits your lifestyle!

Kim and kalee doing tricep dips

What Can You Do Instead of 75Hard?

Check out 57Doable instead!

#57DOABLE is a realistic approach for your life. It includes a flexible meal plan, workouts, and tools for mental fortitude to feel look your best. Best part? It’s free!! 

We mentioned above a few of our favorite resources, but the main thing is to find something that fits your busy life. 

Here are a few questions to ask yourself before committing to a program:

  • Is this something I would feel comfortable asking my doctor about? (Knowing now that several RDs, therapists, and personal trainers have been against it)
  • Does this program come from a place of empowerment versus rule-following?
  • Does it allow me to tailor something for my specific needs?
  • Will this program impede on every other aspect of my life like my kids, work, sleep, etc?
  • If you’re a parent, ask yourself – would I be scared or worried about my 20 year-old child following this diet? 

If you’re looking for a plan, we’d love to help as well. Our approach is more flexible and more of a cheerleader than a drill sergeant though.

Life is hard enough — why make food and exercise a chore?

We focus on making fueling and moving your body something you look forward to everyday!

 

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