health

75 HARD: The fitness challenge everyone's doing, and the science behind it.

If you're a dame who happens to frequent the ol' TikTok and Instagram, chances are you've seen people posting stuff about something called the '75 HARD' challenge. Yes? Everyone is having a yell about how good it is.

Created by a motivational speaker and entrepreneur Andy Frisella, the 'mental toughness' program has absolutely *exploded* in popularity, with millions of people sharing their journey on social media and encouraging others to jump on board.

Just check out the TikTok views under the hashtags #75HARDChallenge and #75HARD - it's... insane.

Watch: Looking for easy healthy snack ideas? Say no more. Post continues below.


Video via Mamamia

In case you have zero idea what we're talking about (hi, hello, please sit), basically the challenge involves following a specific set of rules that promise to help boost your confidence, health and fitness after 75 days.

Sounds pretty good, yeah?

Well, here's the thing. When you take a proper squiz at what the program actually involves, it seems kinda (very)... problematic.

To suss it all out, we asked an expert to help us break down the 75 HARD program, including what's involved and the impact it can have on your physical and mental health. 

Because while TikTok may have a thing for it, there are a few things you should know about '75 HARD' before jumping on board.

What is the 75 HARD challenge?

To give you a bit of a background, the 75 HARD program is a concept that took off from Frisella's podcast back in 2019. Since then, he's created a website and an app for the program. He's even published a book on it.

"The 75 HARD challenge is a 75 day program that is extremely restrictive," explains Ben Lucas from Flow Athletic.

"It is designed to not only get you into shape, but work on your “mental toughness”, too. However, a highly regimented plan for 75 days is not going to be great for anyone's mental health."

The challenge basically involves the participant following a set of rules that promise to focus on improving your diet, exercise, and personal development. However, if you end up breaking one of the rules - you have to start back at day one.

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Just to be clear - Frisella doesn't have a medical background, and he's not a certified trainer or dietician - or any other field of health care for that matter.

It's also important to note that this program isn't backed by any scientific studies or medical experts - it's purely based on Frisella's own personal experience. So, yeah.

What are the 75 HARD challenge rules?

Okay, so there are six rules in the 75 HARD challenge:

1. Follow a diet (you can apparently choose any diet). 

2. Two 45-minute workouts a day; one has to be outside.

3. No alcohol, and no cheat meals.

4. Take a progress picture every day.

5. Drink one gallon of water. (3.78 litres)

6. Read 10 pages of a book (audiobooks don’t count).

@fitwjan

Day 1 of 75 💪🏻💪🏻💪🏻 ##75hard ##75hardchallenge ##75hardjourney ##weightloss ##weightlossjourney ##weightlossprogress ##fatloss ##2021 ##2021goals

♬ original sound - Rylee Jade

Is the 75 HARD challenge good for you?

While TikTok might think 75 HARD is all the rage, experts say the possible risks involved are not great. Like, stupidly dangerous.

Here are seven reasons why you should think twice before jumping on board 75 HARD:

1. Over-training and injury are two very real things that can happen.

We don't care what Frisella says, but exercising for 75 days straight is just not going to be a good time for your body. 

"Especially if someone has a high-stress job, or kids to look after - your stress and cortisol levels will be high enough without adding two workouts to your day," said Lucas. 

"It’s not necessary. Over-training can lead to burnout, fatigue and injury. It can even swell up your body with fluid if inflammation levels are high."

Sheesh.

"The program also isn’t great for your body. It looks like it would push your body to exhaustion, especially for those who choose to go with a restrictive diet."

2. The 'diet' rule can be extremely dangerous.

On that note, you might've noticed that the advice to "follow a diet" is 100 per cent vague. It merely suggests that participants just eat healthily and refrain from cheat meals or alcohol. 

Coolcoolcool.

Not only is the total lack of guidance confusing, but as Lucas points out, it's potentially harmful.

"Dieting means different things to different people, so this can be dangerous for people who choose to go with an extremely restrictive diet, or those who have a history of eating disorders," he said. (We'll touch on this more in a minute).

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"On the flip side, some people see certain foods as healthy when they are not, so it wouldn’t benefit them either. It leaves a lot of things open to interpretation."

3. It's not sustainable long term.

"A 75 day diet is not really sustainable. It is also detrimental to your mental health and your social life - being this regimented is not a great way to live," said Lucas. 

"I would say the program is more designed to make this guy famous given he is asking people to take progress shots."

¯\_(ツ)_/¯

4. It could affect your mental health.

While it's meant to be a program that focuses on improving your mental health, 75 HARD could actually have major emotional drawbacks.

Challenges like this can easily end up impacting a participant in a really negative way - making people feel guilty, shameful and inadequate for having to repeat the system. 

Take this TikTok for example:

@kiahmummeryy I’ll be restarting my #75hardchallenge tomorrow 🤍 also all break up tips are welcome, bring on day one #75hard #fyp ♬ original sound - keeks

Yep. No good.

5. It can be a serious trigger for anyone who has disordered eating habits. 

For anyone dealing with a history of excessive exercise and eating disorders, a strict fitness and health challenge like this just screams bad news. Really freakin' bad news.

Not only does it lean into a mindset of rigidity and deprivation, but it offers a high potential for participants to become obsessed with workouts and food, making them susceptible to things like binge eating and drinking.

For people who have struggled with disordered eating in the past, it's enough to throw them right back into it.

"The program is a great way to keep them on track with their eating disorder. It certainly won’t help them overcome it," said Lucas.

6. Downing that much H20 can lead to 'water intoxication'.

Yes, this is a thing that can happen! No one needs to drink that much water a day.

"In general, a female will need to drink 2.7 litres per day, and a male 3.7 litres. According to Medical News Today, drinking too much water can lead to water intoxication, and while it is uncommon, it tends to happen to soldiers and endurance athletes," said Lucas.

@emiandkaypjs

Try this during 75 Hard ##gallonchallenge ##75hard ##75hardchallenge ##waterchallenge

♬ original sound - Emi & Kay

"I would suggest following the guidelines by those in medicine for this one."

Hear, hear.

7. It can lead to decreased social interaction.

According to Lucas, there's also a high potential for people to exhibit lower social interactions with family and friends - which doesn't sound... great. Especially when many of us get so little of it in lockdown.

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"It’s very restrictive, which can negatively affect your social life - and given the loneliness issues surrounding the lockdowns, that's the last thing you need," he said.

Read: You'll feel miserable.

"Your diet and fitness regime should not consume your life, and while I totally understand going onto a health kick to kick-start your healthy habits, it shouldn’t last three months, and it shouldn’t be unattainable in the long term."

Are there any benefits of the 75 HARD challenge?

Along with the endless list of really s**t things this challenge can do to your body and mind, Lucas can point out a couple of positive things. 

"Cutting out alcohol is never a bad thing, and kick-starting healthy habits is great, too."

Apart from that, Lucas said he probably wouldn't recommend restrictive challenges like 75 HARD. 

Fair call.

"However, having an all-or-nothing approach may lead to bingeing if a participant messes up one time, and chooses not to start again because it is too hard. It is better to choose a program that won’t make people feel bad about themselves if they 'cheat' occasionally, as that's life."

What do you think about the 75 HARD challenge? Share your thoughts with us in the comment section below.

Feature image: TikTok/ kgfitnesstoks;kiahmummeryy

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