Ever heard of the 75 Hard Challenge? It was created by Andy Frisella, a motivational speaker, podcaster, author, and supplement company owner. A book, website, and app support and promote the program. It’s intended to be a transformative mental toughness program. You can read the details here. What follows is a short summary about and speculations on the pros and cons of the program.
The program consists of five pillars.
- Hydration–drink one gallon of water a day.
- Nutrition–choose any diet and follow it faithfully. No exceptions. No alcohol, either.
- Exercise–workout for 45 minutes twice a day, for a total of 90 minutes. One workout must be outdoors.
- Mental improvement. Read 10 pages of any book that you consider entrepreneurial or self-help, each day. (Hopefully, Not Dead Yet will be a popular choice for those taking the challenge!)
- You must take a progress picture each day.
Frisella calls the program a hard challenge, but he insists it’s primarily intended to test and promote mental toughness. He wants followers of the plan to gain confidence that they can stick to a difficult routine, free of excuses or modifications. The challenge is made especially daunting by his rule that if you slack off on any day along the way, you must start over on day one.
Frisella makes the bold claim that 75 HARD is the only program that can permanently change your life… from your way of thinking, to the level of discipline by which you undertake every single task in life. He makes a lot of other claims. Most attention-getting is that the feedback he’s received indicates that Challenge-taker lives have changed in many ways, such as:
- They’ve become better leaders at work.
- They’ve become better mothers & fathers.
- They’ve increased their income.
- They’re more confident in themselves.
- They’ve made massive physical transformations as a result of the mental transformation.
- They’ve taken complete control of their lives and the changes they’ve made are permanent.
He also claims that over 100,000 people around the globe have not just taken the Challenge but have completed it. Impressive, if true.
The Challenge website is loaded with pep talk hype, wild promises, tips for success, testimonials and more. His website contains a blend of superlatives, promises and guarantees that bring to mind Benny Hinn and Tony Robbins.
Here is a description of the experience by a Challenge-taker who wrote
an article about it:
I’m not going to lie, I completely underestimated how
hard this would be, and it is kicking my butt. I failed on
day 10 and after starting over, failed again on day 12.
I’m now on my third attempt and really hoping the
saying the third time’s the charm will be the case for me.
But even within the short amount of time in those failed
attempts, I’ve gained so much. I pushed myself on days I
didn’t want to, and I finally felt like I was accomplishing
something. Each day I completed the challenge truly felt
like a win. This challenge, and any type of fitness challenge,
may not be right for you and your needs. The most important
thing is that you listen to your body and only do what feels right
to you! But to anyone who is considering trying this challenge,
I highly recommend you do. It will not be easy, and there will be
days when you question why you even wanted to do it in the first
place, but every single day, you will feel like a badass for proving
to yourself that you can do challenging things. To all those who
are going to join me and attempt this challenge – you got this!
Frisella does not have credentials that many might expect. He is not a recognized wellness promoter, physician or nurse, psychologist, nutritionist, certified fitness trainer, or otherwise credentialed in a related field. This is not essential, but it would be helpful if there were a board of advisers of some kind. He does recommend caution and some form of medical clearance before getting carried away with the recommended discipline and commitment to success, but in some cases this will not be enough.
References to studies, supportive publications, endorsements by independent sources are not in evidence. Furthermore, no published scientific literature or other medical or health expertise is made available about the five pillars of the program.
The promoter’s ownership of a supplement company is a possible conflict of interest, particularly if he were to promote such products as part of the Challenge.
As with any fitness regimen, there are risks of injury or overtraining, especially when inexperienced, uninformed and unsupervised eager beavers undertake hard exercise with no rest days.
Basically, while promoting discipline, commitment, exercise, nutrition and other matters that are undoubtedly good and needed by everyone, the lack of guidance, balance, flexibility and other concerns make the Challenge seem to be a bad idea. Except for the sensible, rational, fit and otherwise capable folks who might find it just right for their capabilities, situation and preferences, the Challenge as described seem a bit of a health hazard. Again, that’s true of any exercise, especially those that I’ve been doing all my life, but then I’m better prepared for most of what I undertake than I imagine many of the 75 challengers will be.
For most, it seems too risky. Too many things can go wrong. Besides the major concerns noted above, here’s a short list:
- Problems can occur from too little recovery time.
- Exercise out of doors might be preferable when it’s better to stay in and vice-versa.
- Doing less than 90 minutes a day might be better on some days, as would no exercise at all on some.
- Some might be tempted to press on and do two 45 minute routines despite an injury or illness in order to avoid being demoted back to day one.
- The goal or main focus should be lifetime healthy lifestyle practices, not perseverance for a limited time period.
- A gallon of water a day may be too much or too little–depends on multiple factors.
- Dietary guidance is in order–some diets are worse than no specific diet, whereas others deserve promotion.
There’s more but you get the idea. This basically good and well-intended program for strengthening discipline and commitment and building confidence is seriously lacking in essential guidance.
Everyone can benefit from mental toughness. Any program that does no harm while facilitating added confidence, grit, belief in self, fortitude, endurance, and perseverance is worthwhile. For certain people who take and complete the 75 Hard Challenge without negative consequences, it probably would be a positive experience.
Specifically, if it appeals, and if you are aware of the negative possibilities of certain Challenge features, and if you are fit and informed, and if you can modify the program so it works well given your unique circumstances, it could be both interesting and beneficial. One key for success, it seems to me, is not to be overly attached to the bossy, inflexible and numerous unwise rules. Another key is to start the program in good shape and well informed about the fundamentals of healthy exercise and nutrition. If these circumstances prevail, the Challenge should be worthwhile, though the program you follow might not closely resemble the Challenge prescribed by Frisella.
If on the other hand, you are normal, that is, overweight, under-exercised and under-informed about safety and effectiveness protocols for the athleticism dimension (exercise and fitness) of REAL wellness, the 75 Hard Challenge could be a frustrating and injury-riddled, miserable experience and, in the end, a failure that lowers your confidence, grit, belief in self, fortitude, perseverance and not-so-transformative mental toughness. Continual setbacks to Day One and ultimately failure are not associated with most program successes.
Why not a reworked Hard Challenge, particularly if you fall in the normal American category? In this case, you might follow two sensible but invaluable revised pillars for 75 Days: