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75 Hard Challenge – Friend or Foe?

This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at Casper Libero chapter.

Recently, a trend has gone viral on TikTok and other social networks – the 75 Hard Challenge, created by Andy Frisella, has been generating discussion all over the internet and articles in content hubs such as Cosmopolitan and Refinery29.

Who is Andy Frisella?

The motivational speaker, author, business consultant and entrepreneur Andry Frisella is the owner of the S2 Supplement Superstore franchise. In his podcasts, YouTube videos and Instagram posts, he promotes authenticity (meaning staying true to yourself as a way of standing out from the crowd) and teaches lessons on success, entrepreneurship, and life in general. He has even written children’s books on values he believes are linked to success (which can be controversial).

What is the 75 Hard Challenge?

The key is the word “hard”. It is simple, but the challenge is, indeed, very hard. When you sign up at the website for the instructions, you receive an e-mail that describes the experience like this:

“You are about to embark on the hardest 75 days of your life. But if you can get through it without cheating yourself, you will come out on the other side as the hardest, most disciplined version of yourself. The habits you develop and what you learn about yourself will change your life forever.”

Andy promotes 75 hard not just as a fitness challenge but a “mental toughness” challenge, promising to boost your confidence and self-esteem. It looks efficient, especially after seeing positive reviews and progress photos of people who decided to embark on the journey. But after learning what the daily tasks are, one cannot help but wonder if they are scientifically based, viable and even, at all, healthy. The tasks are:

  • Follow a diet. This can be the diet of your choice, but it must be a structured plan designed with a physical improvement in mind.
  • You must complete two 45-minute workouts. One of those workouts must be outdoors.
  • Absolutely no alcohol or cheat meals.
  • Take a progress picture every day.
  • Drink 1 gallon of water.
  • Read 10 pages of a non-fiction book. Audiobooks do not count.

The instructions also include a punitive-sounding phrase: “if you fail, you must start over on day one.”

Original Illustration Designed in Canva for Her Campus Media
The article by Refinery29 states that “If you finish the challenge, there are multiple post-challenge phases that include following the same five steps for 30-day periods, but which tack on taking five-minute cold showers daily and performing random acts of kindness.”

The challenge is a form of content marketing, a very common method of boosting a product’s popularity, brand awareness and overall sales. The content is available for free, and there are many call-to-action moments in which the user is invited to share their progress with the #75HARD hashtag. This builds an online community and awareness for Frisella’s supplement brand.

But the questions are: is it healthy? Is it problematic, or even dangerous? Many people have been questioning the method,so let’s analyze a few aspects of the viral challenge:

  1. It promotes the establishment of physical and mental habits. This type of challenge might help people who have a hard time creating and sticking to routines. Challenging yourself and connecting to other people online who are also doing the challenge can be a good stimulus to start new habits. I am not so sure about the menacing nature of having to “start over” if you fail to complete all the tasks daily, though.
  2. It teaches discipline and persistence, which are necessary abilities in many aspects (physical, professional, personal) of our lives.
  3. Frisella does not specify a kind of exercise or diet, so one can adapt to their own needs.
  4. The physical attributions of the challenge can be appropriate: it is safe to work out twice daily but, according to physical educator Luiz Dejean, it is vital to pay attention to the intensity of the exercise when doing two sessions per day. For example, it would be healthy and safe to lift weights and walk on one day, and practice yoga and run on the next. The key is to not overwork muscle groups and build intensity from the beginning of the challenge to the end (especially if working out is not a consistent habit). Dejean also says that it is safe to drink 1 gallon (3,79 litres) of water daily if you are sweating and exercising as much as the challenge asks you to. If this is not the case, it is completely unnecessary to drink such a large amount of water.

Original Illustration Designed in Canva for Her Campus Media
As you, dear reader, can observe, there are positive aspects to the challenge, but there are also problematic ones:

  1. The tasks seem to have no scientific base or additional information to justify their inclusion in the challenge and inform the public. I believe that information is key and, without proper advice and explanation of a safe way to do the challenge, the rules just seem arbitrary.
  2. Associating losing weight to happiness. It is O.K. to want to lose weight by adopting healthy habits, but making people share pictures of their bodies making – or not making – an aesthetical progress can be a huge trigger and contribute to body dysmorphia and eating disorders. And this is not O.K.
  3. Having to start over if you fail to complete one of the tasks can generate a feeling of failure and weakness. The whole idea of “mental toughness” seems unforgiving. We are human beings, not robots.
  4. The rules regarding exercise might be inaccessible and unrealistic to most people. Working out at two separate moments for a significant amount of time is just not possible sometimes. Many people can manage to squeeze in workouts in their busy schedules, but they will not always meet the requirements imposed by the 75 Hard Challenge. If you manage to do two 30-minute slots one day, or even one nicely done 20-minute session on a particularly busy day, does that mean you failed? Life can get in the way. Also, some people might not have access to outdoor spaces on a regular basis, especially during quarantine.
  5. You can learn a lot from fictional books and audiobooks. Limiting reading options seems a bit pointless – especially if one is not an avid reader in the first place. Why not choose a book by how pleasant it seems, rather than choosing by genre?

There are some very controversial and negative aspects to the challenge, but some good things can be taken out of it. As Andy Frisella states, it is important to consult a physician or health professional before starting to make sure you are doing it safely. The 75 Hard Challenge is tough, and it can take two possible routes: empowerment through the overcoming of limitations, or feelings of weakness from not being able to complete every single task, and that can be a dangerous game in a world permeated by Instagram filters.


The article above was edited by Thays Avila. 

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Paola Sirotsky

Casper Libero '21

22 year-old studying radio, tv and internet communication at Cásper Líbero college. Talks and laughs way too loud. Addicted to funny socks and animal videos.