November 26, 2022

Fitness
They mean it when they call this challenge hard.
If you’re looking to level up your workouts, then perhaps you’ve heard of the 75 Hard program, a 75-day mental and physical challenge designed to improve your discipline in addition to building strength and healthy habits.
The 75 Hard workout was created in 2019 by Andy Frisilla, the CEO of 1st Phorm International, a supplement company. However, the name is a bit of a misnomer, says Dan Bulay, a certified personal trainer and Everlast coach, because it’s less of a workout and more of a lifestyle switch that aims to build grittiness.
“This program is not simply a workout routine to lose weight or gain muscle, but to create a complete mindset shift and build mental toughness to translate into your everyday life,” Bulay tells Bustle.
More specifically, “the concept is to challenge individuals to maintain five specific habits every single day for 75 days without missing a single task on a single day,” says Josh Honore, a NASM-certified personal trainer at Row House and STRIDE XPRO for Xponential+. These habits include:
The goal of the program is to build discipline, commitment, and confidence, says Kenny Santucci, personal trainer and founder of The Strength Club in New York City. “It’s a transformative mental toughness program, not necessarily a fitness program,” he tells Bustle. “They refer to it as a triathlon for your brain. There are workouts involved, but it’s not about the specific training program — it’s about accountability and consistency.”
So, is it worth trying the 75 Hard workout? Below, fitness professionals share the pros and cons of the program, plus whether or not you should try it.
If the 75 Hard program guidelines sound vague to you, there’s a reason for that. “The tasks are left non-specific to allow for flexibility in what works for each individual,” Honore explains. “This can help encourage challengers to take a moment to actually determine what types of nutrition and individual workouts are in their best interest.”
Indeed, if you have a particular dietary restriction or workout preference, you can mold the program to suit those needs.
Thirty-day workout challenges are a mainstay in the fitness world, says Honore. But “short-lived motivation doesn’t always translate into long-term habits,” he adds.
The 75 Hard program, on the other hand, is long enough that it may actually encourage sustainable habits (assuming you complete the entire challenge), he says. And indeed, there’s research to suggest that building new habits takes about 10 weeks (that’s 70 days) if you repeat the new behavior daily.
Finishing the 75 Hard program could improve your self-confidence physically and emotionally, says Santucci. “There are most likely physical benefits, but the mental transformation, confidence, and discipline you will build will be the true benefits,” he explains. “With all physical tasks, when you realize you can do it and achieve it, those positive benefits of what you can accomplish will flow into the rest of your life.”
Still, there are some cons to consider if you’re thinking about trying the 75 Hard workout. First and foremost, this program requires serious dedication in and out of the gym, says Santucci.
“It’s a large time commitment, and there are a lot of sacrifices involved. Things you would like to enjoy in your normal life and social life, you can’t,” he says. “For example, you can’t drink, you can’t eat processed food, [and] you need to follow a diet.”
This level of adherence isn’t for everyone, and in fact may become negative and unproductive, says Honore. “Two workouts every day may be great on paper, but someone who misperceives their ability could easily burn out and overextend themselves,” he says. “The pressure to finish the program could backfire into an unhealthy experience. As humans, we benefit best from understanding our individual selves and finding our own unique lifestyle balance.”
On a similar note, it may be hard to stick out the full 75 days given the strict guidelines and time-consuming nature of the program. “While the end results create a self-driven, disciplined, and thriving individual, the program requires [self-motivation],” says Bulay. “Most people who attempt to go through 75 Hard often fall off and fail because of the lack of support or guidance that comes with it.”
On one hand, this is the point of the challenge — after all, the idea is that you can’t build mental fortitude without testing your limits. On the other hand, though, it’s natural to struggle with the constraints of the program, and if that leads to feelings of negativity or incompetence, it may not be worth it, says Honore.
If you want to give the challenge a go, there are a few safety considerations to be aware of before you get started. First, it’s important to understand your current fitness level. Going too hard, too fast can lead to overuse injuries. So despite what the program may advise, it’s always best to ease into a challenging workout routine and prioritize adequate recovery to keep your body safe.
“Generally, I do not recommend any ‘x number of days’ challenges. I don’t encourage ‘jump-starts’ and temporary discipline, I value education and responsible decision-making,” says Honore. “However, I believe that a driven and fit individual looking to tighten up an already well-functioning mental and physical state can find some benefit to taking on 75 Hard.”
Secondly, consider whether your current lifestyle is hospitable to a challenge like 75 Hard. For instance, “depending on where you live and what time of year it is, outdoor workouts can be more taxing than expected and should be planned intelligently,” says Honore.
His best advice? Work with nutrition and fitness professionals to build safe, sustainable eating and exercise plans.
If you think the 75 Hard program is a safe and potentially beneficial option for you, here’s Honore’s advice for how to get started: “Begin with an earnest assessment of where you are physically and mentally, and think about what motivates you to take on this challenge,” he says. “Start with what you have and be conservative with fitness and nutrition. You can always dial it up, but burning out early will make for a miserable few weeks.”
Bulay also recommends building a support system to help you take on the challenge. “The most successful people are the ones who surround themselves with a network of like-minded individuals,” he says. “Get a group of friends who are willing to do it with you, or connect with someone who has already done it in addition to working with a professional for their guidance.”
Sources:
Dan Bulay, a certified personal trainer and Everlast coach
Josh Honore, NASM-certified personal trainer at Row House and STRIDE XPRO for Xponential+
Kenny Santucci, personal trainer and founder of The Strength Club in New York City.
Studies referenced:
Aicale, R. (2018). Overuse injuries in sport: a comprehensive overview. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6282309/
Gardner, B. (2012). Making health habitual: the psychology of ‘habit-formation’ and general practice. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3505409/
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