What Is the 75 Hard Challenge and Is It Safe? Experts Explain (2024)

Among so many health programs and fads, you may have heard of the 75 Hard challenge, now taking social media by storm. Despite it popping up everywhere from Instagram to Facebook, the program still has an air of mystery to it. So, what exactly is this approach to holistic self-improvement, is it healthy—and is it for you?

We spoke with a range of nutrition and fitness professionals to get their expert opinions on the 75 Hard challenge. And here’s a spoiler: While most of the pros said they saw some value in pieces of the program, they voiced substantial hesitation, too.

“We live in a world filled with new diets, fads, and challenges popping up every single day like a game of whac-a-mole,” explains C.P.T. Daniel Saltos, who is behind Train With Danny. “While I can find value in this new age of self-improvement, I still approach everything with a healthy amount of skepticism.”

Ahead, find everything you need to know about the rigorous program.

What is the 75 Hard challenge?

Andy Frisella, CEO of the supplement company 1st Phorm International, founded the program in 2019 and it’s been gaining speed ever since. On the program’s website, Frisella bills it as “not a fitness program,” but rather a “transformational mental toughness program.”

Following the challenging regime, he says, will result not just in physical transformation but in a complete overhaul of your self-esteem, strength, grit, and more.

Its basic tenants include five “critical” daily practices that participants must complete for 75 days in a row (and must start over should they miss even one, once). To complete the 75 Hard challenge, you'll need to complete the below criteria:

  • Follow whatever nutrition plan works for your goals, but allow no alcohol and no cheat meals.
  • Do two 45-minute workouts per day, one of which must be performed outside.
  • Drink a gallon of water daily.
  • Read 10 pages of an educational or self-improvement book every day.
  • Take a progress picture every day.

Is the 75 Hard challenge healthy?

Saltos says the answer to this question is complicated. “While the 75 Hard challenge is noble in its efforts,” in his view “it misses the mark” when it comes to most of the five pillars of health: exercise, stress management, sleep, hydration, and recovery.

For instance, those two daily workouts totaling 90 minutes strike him as problematic. “Does anyone here have kids? A job? A relationship? Or better yet, a life?” he says. “My clients find it hard enough to work out a few times a week—I can't imagine every single day for 90 minutes.”

While he thinks the effort to get people moving is healthy at its core, “this approach is both unsustainable and not realistic for most individuals,” he says.

Dana Ellis Hunnes is a senior dietitian at UCLA Medical Center and the author of Recipe For Survival: What You Can Do to Live a Healthier and More Environmentally Friendly Life. She similarly questions the feasibility of the plan’s approach to exercise. “Ninety minutes of exercise for many people can feel incredibly daunting, and not everyone lives in a safe place, or has access to a safe, clean environment to exercise outside in,” she says.

Jackie Kaminski, R.D.N. and nutrition instructor for the National Academy of Sports Medicine, however, thinks this time spent daily on physical activity is generally beneficial. And she notes there’s no requirement for high-intensity workouts. “So even for a beginner, this could include low-intensity workouts like a leisure bike ride, yoga, or swimming.”

Multiple professionals voiced concern that the program associates exercise and consumption with misery while eschewing moderation. And neither of those approaches are helpful over the long term, they say.

“Exercise should be fun and enjoyable, not stress-inducing,” Saltos says. Plus, “the no cheats and no alcohol for 75 days is not sustainable. Life is too short to fixate over a piece of chocolate cake. Eat it—you'll be fine. I prefer to teach my clients sustainable long-term tactics that teach moderation.”

For her part, Kaminski supports the total elimination of alcohol as a healthy step. “Alcohol is a depressant, disturbs sleep, disrupts metabolism, depresses muscle protein synthesis, and adds unnecessary calories to one’s diet,” she says.

She does, however, voice concern about the option to choose any diet, which “can be unhealthy and harmful if someone doesn’t have a healthy relationship with food or is unknowledgeable about basic nutrition principles,'' she says. “This could allow someone to cut various foods out of their diet just to lose weight, which could lead to nutrient deficiencies and increase risk of sickness or injury.” (Still, she acknowledges that this approach can give some people the healthy freedom to act within parameters that are realistic for their needs.)

The requirement to shoot daily progress pictures represents another concern for the pros. “I've worked with enough people to know that accountability is one thing, but becoming obsessed with how you look is entirely different,” Saltos says.

Kaminski, too, considers this a potentially dangerous daily task for people who suffer from body image issues or body dysmorphia.

Hunnes posits this piece of the challenge may be “good or bad, depending on the person, and could be harmful to people inclined to see only their own flaws.”

Multiple experts we consulted expressed concern over the program’s lack of specificity surrounding nutrition and fitness.

“There are no specific guidelines for someone to follow based on their fitness level or knowledge base, leaving too much room for interpretation,” Kaminski says. “For a novice with no knowledge base, it can lead them to take very extreme measures that can significantly increase their risk for injuries and potential health issues.”

Saltos echoes the concern. “The lack of specificity is a major gripe of mine. People come to me for guidance and support. Can you imagine if I just told them to read a book, exercise, drink water, eat healthy foods, oh, and don't drink or have chocolate?” he says. “It's kind of like giving someone only half a map to where they need to get.”

What is the point of the 75 Hard program?

In addition to developing physical strength and losing weight, the 75 Hard program aims to tackle a holistic approach to self-improvement, with target benefits that include developing new skills and tools (through daily reading), building confidence and self-esteem, and practicing long enough to solidify nominally healthy new habits.

Saltos says that the hydration and reading components are great mind-body guidelines. “Reading 10 pages a day is a great way to put down your phone, practice mindfulness, and put your brain to work,” he says. “I see a ton of value in this.”

But Kaminski questions whether habits developed for the program will really stick, however, given that “no guidelines exist to help someone maintain the results they’ve achieved over the course of 75 days,” she says. “How does one not revert to old habits and end up in a yo-yo pattern that most conventional diets cause?”

Saltos agrees. “Yes, some might have success with 75 Hard challenge, but most won't. I have seen it time and time again,” he says. “Anyone can stick to a tough challenge for one month, two months, and maybe three months, but what happens after that? What happens when you haven't learned how to practice moderation. You haven't learned to operate in what I call the gray area.”

Overall, Hunnes is also skeptical about the mental benefits—especially for people who have a history of eating disorders, people who don't live in safe neighborhoods, and “people who will feel a sense of failure if they can't make it work one day and then just want to give up.”

Is the 75 Hard program for you?

While the professionals we consulted found potential benefits in the program, most would not recommend it to their clients—at least not without major caveats.

Jordan Dorn, co-founder of Zuma Nutrition, was perhaps the most enthusiastic among the experts we consulted. “I think someone interested in making a significant lifestyle change should consider this challenge, especially if they are inspired to perform a lot of physical activity. It would be best if one can do this challenge in a support group or with an accountability partner that can support them.”

Hunnes says she would recommend only parts of it to her clients, namely “the idea of exercising more, outside—in nature where possible—drinking plenty of water, reading healthy and motivating books, less or no alcohol,” she says. But she wouldn't recommend the daily photos, especially to people who have a history of eating disorders or other conditions.

Kaminski says she’d warn anyone with body-image issues, body dysmorphia, eating disorders, food phobias, or any other mental health disorders to avoid this program. “My fear would be that if this challenge could not be followed or if physical goals could not be completed, it could lead to feelings of failure or continued disordered eating and body-image patterns,” she says. “Overall, unless a client was working under a certified health or fitness professional to guide them appropriately for this challenge, I would not recommend it.”

Dorn would make a similar recommendation. “I think challenges like this can fuel inspiration to make positive changes in one’s life, however, I would not personally recommend this challenge,” he says. “I prefer to help my clients make lasting dietary and lifestyle changes that will endure far beyond 75 days. I also feel the intensity of exercise is unnecessary for the average person unless they feel personally motivated to do so.”

Saltos suggests a “small percentage of the general population will find value in something like this in the long term.” These are people who thrive with strict parameters, and people who don’t work typical office hours or have kids.

“I'm all for trying new things and helping people reach their potential, but in this case, I don't believe this plan offers all the tools necessary to achieve that,” Saltos says. “If after reading this you still want to give it a go, by all means, go for it! Just remember, Rome wasn't built in 75 days.”

What Is the 75 Hard Challenge and Is It Safe? Experts Explain (1)

Alesandra Dubin

Freelance Writer

Alesandra is a digital travel and lifestyle journalist based in Los Angeles. Her work has appeared in Good Housekeeping, Woman’s Day, Prevention, Insider, Glamour, Shondaland, AFAR, Parents, TODAY, and countless other online and print outlets. Alesandra has a masters degree in journalism with an emphasis on cultural reporting and criticism from NYU, and a bachelor’s degree from UC Berkeley. An avid traveler, she trots the globe with her husband and their twins.

What Is the 75 Hard Challenge and Is It Safe? Experts Explain (2024)


Is the 75 Hard Challenge safe? ›

Although the benefits of physical activity are well documented, 75 days with no chance to rest could put participants at risk for overtraining injuries, depending on what they choose for their workouts and what their current fitness level is.

What is the 75 days hard challenge? ›

No cheat meals or alcohol for the full 75 days consecutively. Exercise twice a day for 45 minutes each time, with at least one session happening outside. Read 10 pages of a book every day. The books should be non-fiction and focus on self-improvement.

How many people successfully complete 75 Hard? ›

“For 75 days you follow the outline of the requirements and there are many examples from those who have done it showing substantial and/or significant weight loss and physical transformation,” she explains. According to the challenge website, over a million people around the world have successfully completed 75 Hard.

What is the purpose of the 75 Soft Challenge? ›

The emphasis in 75 Soft is to make sure you're attempting to do your best to follow these rules every day: Eat well in general and avoid alcohol except for social occasions. Exercise once for 45 minutes each day, with one day of active recovery each week. Drink 3 liters of water daily.

Is 75 Hard actually free? ›

WHAT IS 75 HARD? 75 HARD is a free transformative mental toughness program.

What is considered a cheat meal on 75 Hard? ›

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 are the five rules of 75 Hard? ›

What are the rules?
  • Follow a nutrition plan of your choice — no alcohol or cheat meals. ...
  • Two 45-minute workouts — one MUST be outside. ...
  • Drink 1 gallon of water. ...
  • Read 10 pages of a nonfiction, personal development-focused book. ...
  • Take a progress picture.
Nov 8, 2023

What happens if you miss a day of 75 Hard? ›

If you skip a day, you must start over.

If you miss a task, you must start over at day one. "You can't tweak the program to your liking ... it's supposed to be inconvenient and it's supposed to be hard," said Frisella.

What are the six rules of 75 Hard? ›

It consists of 6 fundamental rules that you must do for 75 days in a row:
  • 1 – Stick to a diet of your choice. ...
  • 2 – No alcohol. ...
  • 3 – Perform two 45-minute long workouts per day. ...
  • 4 – Drink a gallon of water a day. ...
  • 5 – Take a progress photo every day. ...
  • 6 – 10 pages of non-fiction self-development books each day.
Oct 11, 2023

Can a beginner do 75 Hard? ›

“When looking for long-term results, the best way to create sustainable change is to do it one habit at a time.” Just because 75 Hard is not ideal for beginners, a modified version of the popular challenge could provide the same discipline-oriented habits and healthy routines. For many, 75 Soft may be the answer.

What can you Eat on 75 Hard? ›

Incorporate sources like chicken, turkey, fish, lean cuts of beef, tofu, and legumes into your meals. These protein-rich foods aid in repairing your muscles after strenuous workouts. Aim for a serving size of 3-4 ounces per meal to meet your protein needs.

What is easier than 75 Hard? ›

What is 75 Soft? It's a gentler, less intimidating and less strict version of 75 Hard. It still has daily guidelines for diet, exercise and self-improvement, but the rules are more flexible and less demanding.

Does walking count for 75 Soft? ›

Does a walk count as a workout for the 75 Soft Challenge? Yes, a good-paced walk that gets your heart racing can count as a workout for this challenge. As always, choose exercises that fit your fitness level and are safe for you.

Can you have a cheat meal on 75 Soft? ›

Stick to a diet of your choice – no alcohol, no 'cheat meals'. Do two 45-minute workouts a day – one of them must be outside. Drink a gallon of water a day. Read ten pages of a self-development non-fiction book every day.

What is better than 75 Hard? ›

The 75 Soft Challenge is made up of four rules, and it is a more realistic alternative to the viral 75 Hard Challenge. The rules are: Eat well and incorporate more nutritious foods into your diet, and only drink on social occasions. Train for 45 minutes everyday for 75 days.

Why not to do the 75 hard challenge? ›

There's also the concern of overtraining, which impacts physical and mental fatigue, and increases your risk for injury. 75 Hard demands ninety minutes of exercise a day, which, at 10.5 hours for the week, is more than four times the CDC's recommendation of 150 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise.

What are the drawbacks of 75 Hard? ›

The rules of the challenge are incredibly strict and decidedly not healthy. Dieting often leads to bingeing and weight cycling. Overexercising can lead to injury, and makes exercise feel really unpleasant. Taking photos of your body daily will wreak havoc on your body image.

How much weight will I lose doing 75 Hard? ›

Some individuals have shed 10, 20, or even 30 pounds during the 75 days. However, it's essential to recognize that weight loss is a highly individualized process, and factors like starting weight, body composition, and adherence to the challenge's principles play a crucial role.


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