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Is 75 Day Hard good for you? Fitness experts examine the challenge

We know TikTok isn’t short on a wellness trend or two – cozy-cardio, #silentwalking and gentle hiking to name a few – but the latest fitness fad is considerably more hardcore.

The 75-Day Hard Challenge is currently having a real moment on the video sharing platform, with more than 44.7 million views. The method involves following a series of strict rules for 75 days, with participants documenting their experiences and progress online. And if that sounds a lot harder than a lazy girl workout, that’s because it is.

In light of the challenge’s continued popularity, fitness experts at Second Nature delved into the logistics of the trend to decipher its benefits and potential risks.

Often referred to as 75 Hard, the challenge aims to promote mental wellbeing and mindfulness, with participants required to follow a series of strict rules for 75 consecutive days.

But unlike a normal fitness program, which allows for occasional cheating, if someone makes a mistake here, they are forced to start all over again from day one. While the severity of 75 Hard may deter many, others find that participating in the challenge daily is the quickest way to form positive habits.

It turns out, though, that despite the buzz on social media, it’s not really a new thing: In fact, people have been participating in the 75-Day Hard challenge for years.

The challenge revolves around respecting five rules, including:

1. Follow a strict diet

The diet itself is up to the participant’s choice, but it should revolve around the goal of physical improvement.

“No ‘cheat meals’ or alcohol are allowed for the duration of the challenge,” says Robbie Puddick, Registered Nutritionist at Second Nature.

Woman eating a restrictive diet.  (Getty Images)Woman eating a restrictive diet.  (Getty Images)

The challenge is to follow a restrictive diet for 75 days. (Getty Images)

2. Perform two 45-minute workouts per day

The challenge specifies that one of these workouts must be done outdoors.

3. Drink a gallon of water a day

While the NHS recommends drinking around 1.2 liters of water a day, the challenge says participants should drink almost four liters a day.

4. Take a photo of your progress every day

In line with the physical transformation goal of the challenge, participants must take photos of themselves daily throughout the challenge.

“Many participants choose to upload these progress photos to social media, including TikTok,” Puddick continues.

5. Read at least ten pages of a book every day

To improve mental well-being, the challenge specifies that participants must read at least ten pages of a book per day.

“Although the book is chosen by the participant, the challenge specifies that audiobooks are not included,” says Puddick.

Woman drinking a bottle of water.  (Getty Images)Woman drinking a bottle of water.  (Getty Images)

Challenge participants are encouraged to drink a gallon of water per day. (Getty Images)

The challenge focuses on implementing positive habits into your lifestyle and revolves around physical activity, which is why many participants may see a physical transformation over the 75 days.

“75 Hard’s daily challenges could act as an intense ‘reset’ period, forcing individuals to reflect on their habits and prioritize health,” says Puddick.

“Consistency of the challenge is a great way to track your fitness journey, as participants may notice that certain areas of the challenge become easier day by day. However, it is important to note that 75 Hard may carry some risks and setbacks on your fitness journey.

As with many viral challenges, the 75-Day Hard Challenge has some worrying setbacks that are essential to be aware of before deciding to participate.

1. Follow a strict diet

Although a healthy diet is an essential part of mental well-being, following a strict diet has many drawbacks, including an unhealthy relationship with food.

“This challenge ultimately promotes calorie counting, which can lead to undesirable results,” says Puddick.

“Developing an unhealthy relationship with food is of particular concern for younger, more impressionable challenge participants who may have encountered 75 Hard’s physical transformations on TikTok.”

2. Complete two 45-minute workouts

Moving our bodies is a great way to improve our health, but the 75-Day Hard Challenge can potentially put too much pressure on the workout.

“Exercise and daily movement are essential parts of a healthy lifestyle, but two 45-minute workouts a day may be excessive,” says Puddick.

This part of the challenge does not take into account other commitments – work, childcare, leisure.

“Doing shorter exercise sessions can be a positive alternative to achieving 90 minutes of intense exercise per day,” advises Puddick.

“The 75-Hard Challenge can make participants feel guilty if they don’t reach this goal, which ultimately creates a negative mindset toward training.”

3. Drink a gallon of water

While the NHS recommends drinking around 1.2 liters of water per day, the challenge states that participants should drink almost four liters of water per day.

“While drinking water is extremely important for your physical health, drinking a large amount of water in a short period of time can sometimes cause side effects,” says Puddick.

“In some rare cases, drinking too much water can lower the body’s electrolyte levels, which can lead to symptoms such as fatigue and nausea.”

Much like the strict diet and 90 minutes of daily exercise, it’s important not to take the challenge specifications literally.

Woman who achieved her fitness goals.  (Getty Images)Woman who achieved her fitness goals.  (Getty Images)

Experts recommend setting smaller fitness goals. (Getty Images)

Like the majority of viral fitness trends, the 75-Day Hard Challenge certainly has some negatives: this is why it is extremely important to do your research before deciding whether or not to participate in viral challenges fitness.

“As previously suggested, 75 Hard might not be suitable for young people, such as teenagers who saw the trend on TikTok, mainly due to the challenge’s strict diet and fitness rules,” advises Puddick.

“Ultimately, the 75-Day Hard Challenge has the potential to place participants under too much pressure, causing them to give up and completely lose track of their fitness journey.”

While participating in viral challenges can be a great way to get motivated, Puddick says short-term fitness trends rarely work long-term. Instead, he recommends focusing on developing lasting habits.

“If you still want to challenge yourself, it can often be more effective to take a more measured approach to exercise,” adds Puddick. “For example, if you currently take 5,000 steps a day, you could challenge yourself to take 6,000 steps a day.

Setting more manageable goals is a much more realistic approach to fitness.

“You may often exceed these goals, which will further boost your motivation. This is a much more positive alternative to feeling weighed down by unrealistic goals.”

Ultimately, it’s about discovering what works best for you and adopting healthy habits in a sustainable way over the long term.

“This will retrain your mind, so these behaviors become automatic,” adds Puddick. “So try to ignore the pressures, quick fixes and high expectations of social media, as they can often cause more harm than good.”


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