Challenges are now a mainstay of fitness and self-improvement culture, thanks to social media.
Influencers across different platforms are following and promoting a range of “X-day challenges” aimed at drastically improving some aspect of your life throughout the course of the challenge.
Recently, the 75 Hard program has gained popularity as a combined fitness, nutrition, discipline, and general self-improvement plan.
This article breaks down everything you need to know about the 75 Hard plan, including what it is, benefits, risks, and expert medical opinions on the program. This way, you can make an educated decision about whether the program makes sense for you.
The 75 Hard program is advertised as a “transformational mental toughness program.”
Headlines on the 75 Hard informational page include statements such as “think of this as an Ironman for your brain” and “how to take complete control of your life in only 75 days.”
The program was created by Andy Frisella, who is the CEO of 1st Phorm International, a supplement company that clears roughly $175 million in revenue per year.
In addition to being CEO of a massive supplement company, Frisella has founded five additional businesses in the supplement industry.
Plus, Frisella is a public speaker and host of several top business and entrepreneurial podcasts, including the “MFCEO Project” and the “Real AF Podcast.”
Frisella created the 75 Hard program in 2019, and it picked up significant steam toward the end of 2020.
According to Frisella, the 75 Hard program can “100x the following traits in your life”:
Although 75 Hard does include a fitness component, the program supposedly targets a number of other self-improvement aspects aimed at transforming your overall life.
The 75 Hard program is a self-improvement plan created by supplement CEO and speaker Andy Frisella.
The 75 Hard program rules revolve around 5 “critical” daily tasks that you must complete every single day for 75 days straight.
The critical tasks are as follows:
- Follow any nutrition plan designed for your goals, with zero alcohol and no cheat meals.
- Complete two 45-minute workouts every day, one of which must be outside.
- Drink a gallon of water every day.
- Read 10 pages of an educational or self-improvement book every day.
- Take a progress picture every day.
As you can see, the tasks run the gamut of self-improvement activities, from fitness and nutrition to mental self-improvement.
One of the most important details to note is that if you fail to complete these five tasks in a day, you must start the entire challenge over from scratch.
Although the daily tasks themselves are doable, you can imagine that ensuring you do every single one every day for 75 days becomes the actual challenge, as opposed to completing the tasks in isolation.
Overall, the program bills itself as “developing the traits and habits necessary to succeed in life.”
The 75 Hard program requires you to complete five critical self-improvement tasks each day. If you miss a single day you must start over from scratch.
On paper, the 75 Hard program offers some benefits.
Following a good nutrition and workout program for 75 days should certainly give you some results in terms of weight loss and fitness.
Drinking a gallon of water a day will definitely keep you hydrated, and water intake is easy to neglect when following a busy schedule.
If you do the required 10 pages per day, you will likely finish several books by the end of the challenge. Of course, this depends on the length of each book, but 750 pages will take you a long way.
Assuming the books you read give actionable advice, there is a solid case to be made that this level of reading can give you a great boost to your knowledge, skillset, and motivation.
Finally, taking progress photos is a good way to track body recomposition changes. If your workout and nutrition plan revolve around fat loss or muscle gain, the daily progress photos will give you an objective view of your progress.
Overall, each critical task has the potential to improve some aspect of your life, and there is no denying that many individuals could see results from this type of program.
The critical tasks in the 75 Hard challenge have the potential to improve aspects of your fitness and mental health.
Despite its catchy name, social media trendiness, and inclusion of beneficial daily tasks, the 75 Hard program has some serious downsides in terms of fitness, transformation, and self-improvement planning.
Here are some potential downsides of following the 75 Hard program.
Extreme lifestyle change for a limited duration
The first potential problem is one that’s true of all “X-day challenges.”
Specifically, they tend to be extreme lifestyle changes for a relatively short duration in the grand scheme of things.
Although you will see some results, there is only so much change your body is capable of in a given time period, both mentally and physically.
The question is: What happens at the end of the 75 days?
Unless you have a sustainable framework for longer-term habit change, there is a good chance you will revert back to old habits.
Simply put, whether your goal is to build a rock solid physique or a million dollar company, its going to take more than 75 days.
Given the demands of 75 Hard — especially when it comes to working out for an hour and a half every day — the overall schedule is too demanding for many people juggling a job, family, and other aspects of life.
If you do want to do the 75 Hard challenge, it’s worth thinking about whether and how you could maintain it over the long term.
For example, doing the challenge on 3 or 4 days a week is likely way more sustainable than doing it every day, and over the years will deliver far more results than going hard for 75 days without a longer-term plan.
Lack of specificity
The second major issue with the 75 Hard program is its lack of specificity in virtually every daily assignment.
The program does not actually have a goal in mind for the nutrition, fitness, and self-improvement component. So, you’re left having to figure out what workout to do, what nutrition plan to follow, and what books you should read.
Plus, there is a good chance that your individual life goals may not be suited for the 75 Hard challenge, yet the overall advertising for the challenge claims it’s appropriate for anyone willing to “stick to it” and “put the work in.”
To discuss just a few examples, consider the goal of adding more muscle to your body.
In this case, you need to follow workout program and diet aimed at hypertrophy, and you will need full days off from training to recover, which is not covered in the 75 Hard program despite its emphasis on progress photos.
On a more mental and self-improvement note, imagine you are trying to build a business, which is something CEO Andy Frisella should be able to relate to. Does it really make sense to spend almost 2 hours every day working out as you bootstrap your company?
The point is, 75 Hard is generic and revolves around perceived self-improvement activities without any real clarity as to what specific, measurable goals you are hoping to achieve.
There is a reason people pay for fitness trainers and business coaches to personally train and coach them. You are hiring someone who can look at your specific situation and goals and guide you towards success.
While Andy Frisella certainly has clout in the world of podcasts, social media, and entrepreneurship, his 75 Hard program is not specific to your personal goals and needs. It’s far too vague about what steps you need to take — and specificity is often key to seeing success, and sticking to a program as a result.
Activities are limited to specific areas of life
While exercise, healthy eating, and reading useful books are great activities, they are limited in scope for a challenge that claims to comprehensively improve almost every aspect of your life.
The time you put into the challenge probably equals roughly 2.5 hours per day. While this may seem like a relatively low commitment, if you already work 8 hours a day and have a family or a pet, those 2.5 hours will be hard to find, especially every single day.
Family time and caring for pets is incredibly neglected in this challenge. Unless the challenge is aimed specifically at people with few other obligations and no kids or pets, it seriously neglects a crucial component of living a successful life.
It would perhaps be more realistic if instead of two 45-minute workouts per day, you did one 45-minute workout and spent the other 45 minutes doing something active with family or with your pet. Perhaps, for example, you could play at the park with your kids or go on a walk with your partner and dog.
While this modification of the critical tasks isn’t part of the 75 Hard program, the neglect of any sense of family time in this challenge makes it far less suited for individuals living with others or pets who need their support.
Of course, if you have the time and energy to follow the challenge and still spend time with family and pets, that’s great. But for most people juggling everything, this is probably unrealistic.
Lack of science-based programming and nutrition
Although the 75 Hard program incorporates fitness and nutrition, it does not have an actual scientific approach.
For example, recently published guidelines from the Korean Journal of Family Medicine show that optimal physical activity guidelines vary greatly across different populations and exercise intensities (
Children and adolescents are recommended to get 1 hour of moderate-to-vigorous physical activity daily, including at least 3 days of vigorous physical activity.
The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) recommendation for adults is to perform muscle strengthening activities at least twice per week and 75 to 150 minutes per week of vigorous aerobic activity for optimal health (
As such, the blanket recommendation to exercise for 90 minutes per day in two 45-minute sessions simply has no basis in science, especially considering the program does not specify what type of exercise you need to undertake or whether to go easier or harder on certain days.
Looking at the nutrition assignment, 75 Hard simply says to follow any nutrition plan, whether it is “keto, paleo, vegan, flexitarian, etc.” as long as it does not include “cheat meals” or alcohol.
This advice is problematic for a few reasons.
The first is that the diets mentioned do not have official guidelines, especially the paleo and flexitarian diets.
Second, not only are these diets unspecified, but also no long-term research exists on the health benefits and downsides of these restrictive eating patterns.
Looking at the vegan diet as an option, it could be viable for this program since being vegan means following specific guidelines like no animal products.
There is a major issue here however. Research suggests that athletes and active individuals following a vegan diet should supplement with nutrients such as B12, beta-alanine, and creatine, which tend to be lacking in plant food sources (
Of course, 75 Hard does not discuss the nuts and bolts of any of the plans mentioned, making the blanket requirement to “follow any nutrition plan” too general to be useful at best, and at worst potentially putting you at risk of nutrient deficiencies.
On a final note, the requirement to drink a gallon of water a day is not backed by science.
Researchers suggest that women should consume 2.2 liters (about 74 fl oz) per day of water and men should consume 3.0 liters (101 fl oz) per day. Consumption beyond that amount “does not have any convincing health benefits” (4).
A gallon of water is 3.7 liters, which clearly exceeds the amount suggested by research.
Of course, if you are sweating profusely, your water needs could change, but that nuance is simply not discussed in the 75 Hard program.
The overall takeaway is that the health recommendations in 75 Hard sound catchy, but they are simply not supported by any of the science on nutrition and exercise.
Lack of flexibility
The 75 Hard program is like many “X-day challenges” in that it requires rigid adherence to relatively arbitrary guidelines.
Unfortunately, life happens, and a 75-day period is a large enough window that something is likely to occur that could throw you off the proverbial wagon.
For example, maybe you or a family member gets sick. Or perhaps you are stuck late at work and unable to get your meal plan food or workout completed.
For most people, this is simply the reality of being alive — stuff happens.
Unfortunately, the 75 Hard challenge requires you to start over if you miss even one assignment in a day. This simply does not make sense, especially given that the program is already unsustainable for most people in the long term.
And if your first round of 75 Hard gets disrupted, there’s a good chance something will come up in round two as well.
You can imagine having to restart over and over, essentially being in a loop of forever following the 75 Hard program.
This is simply not conducive to long term physical or psychological success.
Who is Andy Frisella?
The final issue worth bringing up is that Andy Frisella is not a fitness coach, scientist, or actual expert in anything related to health and fitness.
He is a successful entrepreneur who runs multiple supplement industry companies, which bring in tens of millions in revenue per year.
Public health experts have routinely warned about the supplement industry, which in the United States is entirely unregulated, rife with misinformation, and full of gimmicky marketing and misleading labels. This is assuming the supplements you buy are even safe or contain what they claim to contain (
Of course, the 75 Hard program is conveniently posted on the 1st Phorm supplement company blog, meaning that reading about 75 Hard will likely land you on the company page, potentially primed to buy supplements that claim to help you crush your goals.
This is not to say that 1st Phorm does not sell good supplements — after all, there is nothing wrong with a little protein powder and multivitamins.
However, the 75 Hard program clearly falls somewhere in Andy Frisella’s sales funnel, and it’s probably safe to say that a man who started a multimillion-dollar supplement company does not post things to the company blog that are not aimed at boosting the bottom line.
The 75 Hard program presents issues that make it less than suitable as a blanket recommendation for self-improvement goals.
Medical and psychological experts have weighed in on the 75 Hard program with similar opinions.
Generally speaking, they state that you might benefit from the daily activities of the 75 Hard program, but it’s too arbitrary and does not consider the range of fitness levels of the people starting the program.
Furthermore, experts conclude that long term results can be achieved with far more flexibility in your program.
For example, Dr. Muhammad Mujtaba, a psychiatrist with 17 years’ experience helping people with their mental health, had the following remarks: “During everyday life, you have different activities to do. Not every person can manage the workout twice a day. It is normal to [get sick] and in such conditions you should avoid intense workouts.”
He continued, “The 75 Hard program says that if you miss one rule, then you have to start it again. In terms of psychology, experts consider such programs a pressure on mental health.… Being a psychiatrist, my experience says that you can achieve your desired weight by following flexible programs that also consist of cheat days.”
Mental health expert and psychologist Christie Hartman, PhD, had the following remarks:
“I’ll come at this from a psychological standpoint. I admit I’m a sucker for anything self-improvement. As far as 75 Hard goes, I like that it encompasses a variety of physical challenges. However, there’s no expertise or research here, just a ‘this is what I did and it worked for me.’ That’s fine, but [it presents] many risks, physical and mental, especially for the young TikTok generation.”
Hartman continued, “There are so many other ways to improve physical and mental toughness (and wellbeing) that are based on evidence: meditation, mindfulness, fitness programs, marathon training, boot camps, programs on leaving your comfort zone and facing fears, daily gratitude sessions… I’d prefer a program based on some research that encompassed as many mental aspects as physical.”
Dr. Sabrina Romanoff, a Harvard-trained clinical psychologist and professor at Yeshiva University in New York City, had the following to add: “The viral ‘75 Hard’ transformation program seems to be the product of Andy
Frisella’s personal experience and has been proliferated through TikTokers all over the world.”
“Something unique about the program is its incorporation of photos to promote and track progress, which translates to the type of trends that flourish in this digital age,” Romanoff continued. “There are some damaging consequences associated with these dieting and lifestyle trends that should be considered.
Romanoff suggested that a challenge based on such restrictive habits and including the pressure to post photos of your progress could lead to some unexpected risks.
“In clinical practice, I’ve observed how following an intensive diet and lifestyle program leads to rigid rules and obsessive thoughts that can lead to greater mental health concerns and disordered eating behaviors,” Romanoff said.
She explained, “While aspects of this program may be designed to motivate, such as the daily photo component, it may lead to excessive fixation on appearance. Self-surveillance is a significant component of eating disorders and could trigger upward social comparison, as members are viewing often edited or unattainable images of their peers online.”
Experts generally feel that 75 Hard is unnecessarily restrictive for achieving its stated goals and may have significant downsides for some individuals.
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. You should expect that some workout days will have to be lighter than other days if you are truly doing the 90 minutes of exercise every day.
You should avoid 75 Hard if you struggle with body image, self-esteem, or disordered eating. Based on expert opinions, 75 Hard could aggravate these issues.
Remember: If your goal is just to lose some weight or read more, you can achieve these ends without the level of restriction prescribed in the 75 Hard program.
75 Hard can help kick-start change but should be carefully considered for those dealing with underlying mental health conditions. There are several other less restrictive programs that may yield better results for you.
75 Hard is not the first “X-day challenge” to float around social media, and it will not be the last.
While there are some benefits from the protocols in 75 Hard, they are generally overkill or not specific enough for most major life goals.
There is also the risk of making mental health concerns worse, due to the restrictive nature of the program. Plus, the program is not backed by science, so you’ll need to do your own research when picking a diet and fitness plan.
However, there really is no harm in giving it a try, provided you approach it with the right mindset. If you find it unsustainable, do not beat yourself up for “falling off the wagon.” Perhaps a different challenge that fits into your lifestyle would be a better choice for long-term results.