75 Hard is a program developed by Andy Frisella. Andy is a motivational speaker, entrepreneur, and supplement company owner. He believes that ‘mental toughness’ is the way for all of us to live a better, more productive life. Andy prefaces that it is NOT a fitness program, but rather a transformative mental toughness program. It has been publicly available since March 2019 and has had a recent resurgence in 2021. Estimates have it amassing 200+ million views on social media via hashtag references. Its popularity is undeniable, but the challenge is based on very little scientific research and rather upon Andy’s anecdotal viewpoint from his own journey.
The recent popularity has led to many friends and clients asking my opinion on 75 Hard. In general, if it would be a good fit for them. I will admit the claims made by Andy regarding what this challenge will do for you is quite the compelling sales pitch. I’m not going to include those but will list out the challenge rules as a reference towards my overall opinion on things.
Follow this program every day exactly as its stated for 75 days and become a new, better you:
- Two 45-minute workouts
- One workout must be outdoors
- Follow a diet
- No alcohol or cheat meals
- Drink 1 gallon of water a day
- Read 10 pages, nonfiction. Audio books do not count
- Take a progress pic
My thoughts / opinion on this program:
- Failure or being a failure should not be tied to the eating of any food. In fact, correcting the diet culture of “good vs. bad” (food labeling) is important in establishing a healthy relationship with food. In my experience, I prefer including more fruits, vegetables, and whole foods over the approach of restricting specific items. Even the term cheat meal can be counter-productive for certain individuals that struggle or have struggled with disordered eating. I have no issue with limiting alcohol use as it does not have any nutritional value and negatively impacts one’s overall health. In short, what we eat doesn’t in any way determine our worth, mental grit, or identity. Programs of this manner can make it seem as though they do. That is part of the danger with diets or challenges like this. If you fail, it can make you feel less than and be counterproductive to mental health.
- Working out for 90 minutes a day, 75 days straight, can be dangerous for some individuals. Especially for someone who isn’t experienced or regularly partaking in training. Far too often the general population are over stressed and under recovered. Many have poor sleep hygiene, are primarily sedentary, and over caffeinated to make it through the week. Adding two-a-day training to these people is playing with fire considering starting health of the individual and the possibility of extreme temps (hot or cold) with outdoor workouts.
- None of these rules have a valid explanation provided or inkling of intuitive design. Many of them are arbitrary guidelines that can leave an inexperienced individual confused on implementation. Others, such as drinking a gallon of water a day, are not considering that hydration (like nutrition) needs are unique to the individual. Lastly, some simply do not make sense if the true intent is to address mental toughness, such as the need to take progress pics daily or at all. That last one would be good for marketing promotions to use as before and after.
- I have no issue with reading 10 pages of a non-fiction book a day. I’m all for self-development and reading in general.
In closing, I feel that there are very few I would recommend this challenge too. If I were to do so, the individual would need to be an advanced trainee with years of training and dietary experience. This would allow them to fill in the many gaps in structure with this challenge and to best have a feel for their bodies to avoid injury or blindly continuing if they have warning flags that a break is needed. I am all for challenging ourselves and truly pushing to see what we can accomplish beyond our initial mental hurdles. However, I prefer training and dietary methodologies to be intuitively designed to work synergistic together, and that they are customized to the individual to consider their goals, lifestyle, background, etc. I realize 75 Hard is packaged as a mental challenge but feel many employ it with the false belief that it will improve their health and well-being (or is designed to do so). Andy is an extremely accomplished individual and savvy businessman, much more so than he is a trainer, coach, or dietitian. Is it possible that the generosity of handing out his program for free is merely intelligent marketing? Those who partake in the program often subscribe to his podcast, buy the book, download the app, and provide plenty of visibility to his supplement company (recall the 200+ million tags on social media) all of which make him money. Call me a cynic, but this seems to be a very well executed marketing strategy rather than a well-designed mental toughness program. I am, however, far less accomplished than Mr. Frisella so perhaps I am wrong. These are merely my thoughts based on my background and work with people seeking to better themselves.