This Hard 75 review is mixed. It lives up to its namesake but for all the wrong reasons. While there are a few good practices, there are plenty of dangerous ones.
I’ve recently seen a post about a TikTok “mental toughness” challenge called “Hard 75,” created by Andy Frisella, a motivational speaker, entrepreneur, and owner of a supplement company. You’ll note that none of those titles has anything to do with your fitness and everything to do with his own bank account.
That being said, the program is a rather mixed assortment of bro science, actual science, and dangerous vagueness. This is going to be a longer blog and Hard 75 review, so put on some music or something.
Hard 75 Review: The Rules Overview
Before I give my complete thoughts on this particular health fad, let’s start our Hard 75 review together with a look at the rules of the challenge.
- Follow a diet, any diet, and don’t deviate from it. (No cheat meals.)
- Drink a gallon of water per day.
- Work out twice a day for 45 minute sessions. One of them must be outside no matter what the weather is (exceptions for obvious danger like tornados, and lightning storms.)
- Read 10 pages of non-fiction per day. It must be in text form. No audiobooks, no videos. It should be books you can learn from.
- You must take a photo of yourself every day.
Just reading the rules, there doesn’t seem to be anything that is inherently bad about the directions. Is two 45 minute workouts a day excessive? Yes, but it could possibly be manageable if you knew what you were doing and there weren’t a devious caveat to the whole thing. If, for any reason, you fail to do all of the tasks every day for the duration of the challenge you must start the challenge over at day 1.
That’s a problem. Not the only problem in program, which I’ll explain in this Hard 75 review, but it’s the one that really sends this one into the same crowd as “drink salt water to detox your body.” If you don’t know what you’re doing, or if you have obsessive tendencies, or an unhealthy relationship with food or exercise, this challenge will destroy you, and not in the way that lets you feel accomplished if you manage to eke out a victory.
Okay, let’s go through each rule one by one in a brutally honest Hard 75 review.
1. Follow a Diet and Don’t Deviate From It
On the surface, this seems like a great idea, but without guidance there will be many people who try to accept this challenge that have no idea how to diet, or will inadvertently give themselves an eating disorder, or fall back into it if they’ve already had one.
There are a lot of bullshit diets out there, and saying “just pick one” is dangerous. Sure, some of those fad diets work out for some people, but they are the exception–not the rule. For others, diets that are too restrictive, or that haven’t been thoroughly tested and researched by nutrition professionals will wreak havoc on a person’s body.
I’m not a nutritionist, but I do know something about what most human beings like myself will do when confronted with the prospect of completely changing their habits instantly… If you want to start a diet, start it slowly, and allow yourself to fail.
Over time, you can make better decisions as your gut health and tastes begin to change. Start by making small choices like including at least one vegetable in every meal, and graduate to meal prepping, and planned cheat meals to help with your motivation. No one is perfect, and unless you’re preparing to be in a Hollywood movie, lifestyle changes and better health should be the ultimate goal, and those take time to acclimate to if you’re not already doing it.
2. Drink a Gallon of Water
Imagine, if you will, a 2-liter soda. Now fill that with water. You need to down two of them per day.
That’s actually… almost the correct amount (if you’re a man.) According to several health organizations, including the American Council of Exercise (where I get most of my data), A man needs 3.7 liters of water per day while a woman needs about 2.7 liters. This is generally sound advice and one of the few points of agreement in this Hard 75 review.
However; I will note that everyone’s hydration needs are different and will change with many factors. Things like fruit, soup, and coffee will also offer hydration. When you work out, you need more hydration but you also need electrolytes (salts). To replace those lost in the process of sweating… which you will do in this challenge.
So, monitor yourself for hydration needs. Listen to your body. If you feel thirsty, drink water. If you don’t feel thirsty, examine your pee. You heard me. If your urine is clear–you’re over hydrated, if it’s dark yellow–you’re dehydrated. You’re looking for a honey yellow color for a balance. Regardless, you should be drinking at regular intervals while exercising, especially if you’re going to do it outside…
3. Work Out Twice Per Day, Once Outside
Working out is good for you, there’s no refuting that. However, there is such a thing as over-training, and fatigue injuries. Rest is a necessary part of any truly effective workout routine. Sure, you can make one workout intense and the other one more of a recovery, but let’s not forget that the rules of this challenge say you must do it every day. This does not allow you to rest.
I am also all for doing workouts outside. Connecting with nature is great, and it can be a refreshing experience to run in your local park instead of on a treadmill. However, there is no guarantee that everyone who takes on this challenge lives in an area where doing this is remotely safe. Also, don’t work out in the rain or extreme heat. Just don’t do it. You can mitigate the effects by wearing protective clothing and getting extra hydration, but the risk of injury or illness is exponentially higher on days like this and it’s just not worth it.
If you want to start working out (which I encourage you to do), start slow. Just like what I said about dieting above, you need to start by doing small things for yourself. Set easily reachable goals to build motivation.
Even so, if you’re a beginner in the working out space, two to three workouts per week is sufficient to give you time to rest. You can always rev up from there as you gain strength, stability, and endurance.
4. Read 10 Pages of Non-Fiction
This is the one part of this program that I really have no qualms about. I agree.
Ten pages is a good goal for people who don’t regularly read, but I would encourage you to read a bit more if you can as you start to build interest. The part of this rule I don’t like is that it specifies that the book must be in text format, no videos or audiobooks allowed.
Screw that. People absorb information in different ways, and all avenues are equally valid.
If you’re a busy adult pressed for time (like most adults are) then double up and listen to your required reading while doing a light workout.
5. Take a Photo of Yourself Every Day
This part of the Hard 75 review may not apply to you. Because if you get motivation from watching your gains (even though they will be very small most of the way), then go for it.
But as it pertains to the challenge, if the idea is to promote “mental toughness” this is sort of the opposite way of going about that. This tracking method seeks to reward you extrinsically through viewing your appearance.
A much better way to track your progress and promote mental toughness is to keep an exercise journal. Write down the exercise you did that day. If you didn’t exercise, write why. How did you feel before and after exercise? How motivated are you to keep going? These are all things you can look back on down the road to give yourself a more accurate picture of where you began your journey versus where you are now.
The EXP tracking method we use here at LevelUP is an extrinsic motivation as well, but it is based on tangible progress rather than objective progress. You will always see your flaws if you look for them in the mirror. I know this because I also struggle with body image.
Even at my healthiest weight, I was never satisfied with the look of my body. With EXP I can see my progress over time as the number grows. As I level up and gain perks, it keeps me working toward the next level rather than waiting for my gut to recede.
Extrinsic motivation isn’t bad, but it goes against the tenets of the challenge.
Conclusion: Hard 75 Review
If you’re serious about losing weight, gaining muscle, and being overall more healthy, there are much better ways to go about it.
I won’t say that this challenge is impossible, but it is improbable. Especially for regular people who are trying to turn their life around (which this challenge supposedly does in 75 days).
That’s nonsense and my biggest point of contention in this Hard 75 review. If you’ve held out on entering a healthy lifestyle for years, it will take many more days to form solid habits. That’s a hard truth I can’t sugar coat in this Hard 75 review. Fitness and health takes time.
This Hard 75 challenge is not tailored to most people. And as I hopefully explained well in this Hard 75 review, the things it espouses are lofty at best and dangerous at worst. Stay away from the more dangerous tenets of the Hard 75 challenge, and adopt the ones that work for you.
In the coming days I’ll be working on an alternative, more realistic challenge based on this. So stick around and follow my page for updates.