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What Is The 75 Hard Challenge… And Is It Actually Good For You?

This year, I promised myself that any resolutions I made would not be restrictive, punishing, or too difficult. But if this holistic approach to my health and wellbeing felt right to me, the internet, it seems, had other ideas. A new social media trend, the 75 Hard challenge (global Google searches for which are up 3,050 percent in the last 30 days alone), has permeated my feeds, with those participating documenting their experiences of the challenge online. It sounds hard because it is.

What is the 75 Hard challenge?

A quick Google of the 75 Hard tells me that, despite the current social media buzz, this is nothing new–it’s been around for four years or so already. While I promise to take a balanced approach as I explore the challenge with you, dear reader, I feel duty-bound to point out that it was created by a CEO of a supplement company, which strikes me as a little fishy. And given that it promises to multiply participants’ levels of confidence, self-esteem, discipline and fortitude by up to 100 (if these things are even measurable), the overall pitch is ambitious, to say the least.

Turns out it has to be–why would anyone do it if it didn’t promise big results? The challenge itself is 75 days (that’s almost 11 weeks) long, and requires that you complete five critical daily tasks. If you don’t complete them on any given day, you must restart the challenge again.

What are the rules of 75 Hard?

The five rules are as follows:

  1. Follow a nutrition plan of your choice–no alcohol or cheat meals allowed.
  2. Do two 45-minute workouts each day, one indoors and another outdoors.
  3. Drink a gallon of water each day.
  4. Read 10 pages of a self-improvement book each day.
  5. Take a progress picture each day.

A mix of diet, exercise and mental agility, its aim is to help participants develop the “traits and habits necessary to succeed in life.”

The military approach, decoded

It sounds like a lot, doesn’t it? I’m exhausted just reading it, but I have deep respect for anyone who is able to complete this challenge. Slotting just one 45-minute workout into my day is hard enough–two feels out of the question–and having zero cheat meals at all in nearly three months feels almost military. But what do the experts think?

“One of the most common stories I hear from clients is that they’ve tried multiple diets, multiple workout regimes, and have either not achieved the results they wanted or have achieved them, then lost them, then tried something else to achieve them again, and ended up in a yo-yo type situation with both food and exercise,” says Luke Worthington, celebrity trainer. “A challenge like this doesn’t account for people’s current levels of activity, health background, history with exercise, emotional relationship with food, body type, age, or even access to equipment/coaching. Applying such a ‘catch all’ criteria to a hardcore challenge will mean the failure rate is high, plus the chances of injury for those who may not be used to such an intensive regime are significant.” If you do manage to fulfill all the requirements for 75 days, what happens after?

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