75 Hard-A REAL Wellness Assessment of a "Mental Toughness" Program
Ever heard of the 75 Hard Challenge? It was created by Andy Frisella, a motivational speaker, podcaster, author, and supplement company owner. A book, website, and app support and promote the program. It’s intended to be a transformative mental toughness program. You can read the details here. What follows is a short summary about and speculations on the pros and cons of the program.
The program consists of five pillars.
- Hydration–drink one gallon of water a day.
- Nutrition–choose any diet and follow it faithfully. No exceptions. No alcohol, either.
- Exercise–workout for 45 minutes twice a day, for a total of 90 minutes. One workout must be outdoors.
- Mental improvement. Read 10 pages of any book that you consider entrepreneurial or self-help, each day. (Hopefully, Not Dead Yet will be a popular choice for those taking the challenge!)
- You must take a progress picture each day.
Frisella calls the program a hard challenge, but he insists it’s primarily intended to test and promote mental toughness. He wants followers of the plan to gain confidence that they can stick to a difficult routine, free of excuses or modifications. The challenge is made especially daunting by his rule that if you slack off on any day along the way, you must start over on day one.
Frisella makes the bold claim that 75 HARD is the only program that can permanently change your life… from your way of thinking, to the level of discipline by which you undertake every single task in life. He makes a lot of other claims. Most attention-getting is that the feedback he’s received indicates that Challenge-taker lives have changed in many ways, such as:
- They’ve become better leaders at work.
- They’ve become better mothers & fathers.
- They’ve increased their income.
- They’re more confident in themselves.
- They’ve made massive physical transformations as a result of the mental transformation.
- They’ve taken complete control of their lives and the changes they’ve made are permanent.
He also claims that over 100,000 people around the globe have not just taken the Challenge but have completed it. Impressive, if true.
The Challenge website is loaded with pep talk hype, wild promises, tips for success, testimonials and more. His website contains a blend of superlatives, promises and guarantees that bring to mind Benny Hinn and Tony Robbins.
Here is a description of the experience by a Challenge-taker who wrote
an article about it:
I’m not going to lie, I completely underestimated how
hard this would be, and it is kicking my butt. I failed on
day 10 and after starting over, failed again on day 12.
I’m now on my third attempt and really hoping the
saying the third time’s the charm will be the case for me.
But even within the short amount of time in those failed
attempts, I’ve gained so much. I pushed myself on days I
didn’t want to, and I finally felt like I was accomplishing
something. Each day I completed the challenge truly felt
like a win. This challenge, and any type of fitness challenge,
may not be right for you and your needs. The most important
thing is that you listen to your body and only do what feels right
to you! But to anyone who is considering trying this challenge,
I highly recommend you do. It will not be easy, and there will be
days when you question why you even wanted to do it in the first
place, but every single day, you will feel like a badass for proving
to yourself that you can do challenging things. To all those who
are going to join me and attempt this challenge – you got this!
Frisella does not have credentials that many might expect. He is not a recognized wellness promoter, physician or nurse, psychologist, nutritionist, certified fitness trainer, or otherwise credentialed in a related field. This is not essential, but it would be helpful if there were a board of advisers of some kind. He does recommend caution and some form of medical clearance before getting carried away with the recommended discipline and commitment to success, but in some cases this will not be enough.
References to studies, supportive publications, endorsements by independent sources are not in evidence. Furthermore, no published scientific literature or other medical or health expertise is made available about the five pillars of the program.
The promoter’s ownership of a supplement company is a possible conflict of interest, particularly if he were to promote such products as part of the Challenge.
As with any fitness regimen, there are risks of injury or overtraining, especially when inexperienced, uninformed and unsupervised eager beavers undertake hard exercise with no rest days.
Basically, while promoting discipline, commitment, exercise, nutrition and other matters that are undoubtedly good and needed by everyone, the lack of guidance, balance, flexibility and other concerns make the Challenge seem to be a bad idea. Except for the sensible, rational, fit and otherwise capable folks who might find it just right for their capabilities, situation and preferences, the Challenge as described seem a bit of a health hazard. Again, that’s true of any exercise, especially those that I’ve been doing all my life, but then I’m better prepared for most of what I undertake than I imagine many of the 75 challengers will be.
For most, it seems too risky. Too many things can go wrong. Besides the major concerns noted above, here’s a short list:
- Problems can occur from too little recovery time.
- Exercise out of doors might be preferable when it’s better to stay in and vice-versa.
- Doing less than 90 minutes a day might be better on some days, as would no exercise at all on some.
- Some might be tempted to press on and do two 45 minute routines despite an injury or illness in order to avoid being demoted back to day one.
- The goal or main focus should be lifetime healthy lifestyle practices, not perseverance for a limited time period.
- A gallon of water a day may be too much or too little–depends on multiple factors.
- Dietary guidance is in order–some diets are worse than no specific diet, whereas others deserve promotion.
There’s more but you get the idea. This basically good and well-intended program for strengthening discipline and commitment and building confidence is seriously lacking in essential guidance.
Everyone can benefit from mental toughness. Any program that does no harm while facilitating added confidence, grit, belief in self, fortitude, endurance, and perseverance is worthwhile. For certain people who take and complete the 75 Hard Challenge without negative consequences, it probably would be a positive experience.
Specifically, if it appeals, and if you are aware of the negative possibilities of certain Challenge features, and if you are fit and informed, and if you can modify the program so it works well given your unique circumstances, it could be both interesting and beneficial. One key for success, it seems to me, is not to be overly attached to the bossy, inflexible and numerous unwise rules. Another key is to start the program in good shape and well informed about the fundamentals of healthy exercise and nutrition. If these circumstances prevail, the Challenge should be worthwhile, though the program you follow might not closely resemble the Challenge prescribed by Frisella.
If on the other hand, you are normal, that is, overweight, under-exercised and under-informed about safety and effectiveness protocols for the athleticism dimension (exercise and fitness) of REAL wellness, the 75 Hard Challenge could be a frustrating and injury-riddled, miserable experience and, in the end, a failure that lowers your confidence, grit, belief in self, fortitude, perseverance and not-so-transformative mental toughness. Continual setbacks to Day One and ultimately failure are not associated with most program successes.
Why not a reworked Hard Challenge, particularly if you fall in the normal American category? In this case, you might follow two sensible but invaluable revised pillars for 75 Days:
- Exercise for 30 minutes at the same time every day; and
- Read Not Dead Yet: World Triathlon Champions 75+ Offer Tips for Thriving & Flourishing in Later Life!
If neither Friscell’s nor my program appeals but you still want a worthy challenge, see a personal trainer and discuss your unique situation and goals.
FITNESS EXPERT COMMENTARIES ON 75 HARD
Grant Donovan, Perth, Australia
Hi Don–75 Hard sounds a bit extreme to me. I’m guessing, looking at Andy’s photo, that he’s done hard time behind bars, so it all makes sense. Your summary critique is everything I need to understand about the 75 Hard Challenge–and to know that it sounds way too hard. Actually, I’m thinking of martyring myself for access to 72 virgins. This sounds like a whole lot more fun.
Wendy Shore, Maui, Hawaii
Don–The guy is a charlatan, first cousin to all snake oil salesmen like Joel Osteen. Frisella’s plan is the epitome of bossy, inflexible rules. Go back to day one if you are unable to complete any part? Sounds like mental training wheels for someone in preparation to become a Catholic. Well, I suppose some people do love self-flagellation.
He is full of BS. I don’t have the time or patience to identify all of it and besides, like religion, followers of cult-like practices are convinced they know the truth and thus will not be dissuaded by pesky facts. Nevertheless, here are a few comments well-supported by these pesky realities, AKA scientific evidence.
Be very wary of supplement salespersons–most of the goods are snake oils.
How many people with normal lives have an extra hour and a half a day to the 75 Hard Challenge?
Exercise 45 minutes outdoors? What if you live where the temperature seldom go below 100F for days on end–or above 0 degrees?
90 minutes every single day? The concept of recovery is not a new one. Pity Friscella hasn’t bothered to learn a little actual science regarding exercise.
Any diet? How about the 17 Cupcakes a Day Diet? Or the Celery Diet? Most diets, like supplements, are snake oil.
Must drink a gallon of water a day? Is he aware of hyponatremia? (A condition where sodium levels in the blood are lower than normal, often caused by sodium dilution due to excessive water in the body.)
He seems to think that one should ignore illness or injury because paying attention to either might cause a return to day one.He has no education in this area, but thinks that because he thought of it, it must be true. Sounds rather like a former President, to me. I’m amazed that he does not have rules about sex, too. I shudder to think what they might be like.
Your own cons are quite good. I cannot really see any pros about this program.
Bruce Midgett, Missoula, MT
Whoa, slow down. A motivational speaker, podcaster, author, and supplement company owner? I’m already backing out of the room. Andy is fearsome in both the before and after pics. Only the abs speak.
Couldn’t find a hell of a lot about Andy Frisella except about fifteen internet items concerning his net worth.
Based upon those flimsy observations, here’s my answer to Andy’s multi-pronged pitch:
1. Hydration–drink a gallon of water a day. Sixteen eight-ounce glasses a day? That’s one glass each hour I’m awake–if I don’t take a nap, which I will, so that alone breaches my regimen. Does coffee count? Is he selling permanently installed urinary catheters, too?
2. Nutrition–choose any diet (Any? Really?). Follow it faithfully. No exceptions. No alcohol, either. He just tempted me to eat nothing but chocolate and ice cream, sometimes simultaneously. Along with all that water. My innards are warning me of potential upheaval already.
3. Exercise–work out twice a day, 45 minutes each for a total of 90 minutes, one of which must be outdoors. I’ll stick with my current routine, which is even more.
4. Mental improvement. Read 10 pages of any entrepreneurial or self-help book, each day. Sorry, not my cup of tea… except, of course, Not Dead Yet and other Ardell volumes. I’m partial to fiction, biography/personal memoir, history and politics. Most of the self-improvement stuff puts me to sleep. Which is sometimes good.
5. You must take a progress picture each day. Of what? I just took a pic of a lawn mower I’m trying to sell, but it hasn’t done much that would be called progress for a long time. Tomorrow, maybe I’ll try the chipper/shredder.
Pardon my skepticism, but anyone who comes up with a solution to any of life’s challenges that sounds flaky and then represents it as the only program that can permanently change your life is suspect in my tiny corner of the world. And while I’m skeptical, I’m certainly willing to have a peek at all those ways people’s lives have been changed by his wisdom and practice. However, by what measures? In reading those six remarkable life changes he itemizes, I’m reminded of the followers of one itinerant preacher of old who convinced people to live a pretty prescribed life and everything would be good. Believers will believe anything and testify to such drivel.
Still, if the devoted believe this stuff works, it probably will, at least in the minds of the followers. But isn’t this more of a self-presumptive process that fits accomplishments to expectations? It is also an invitation to ignore the program’s drawbacks and the possible consequences of same. Personally, I like fun with my physical activity, my mental gymnastics and my love of life.
This all sounds not only rigorous, but a bit gruesome. I’m not so dedicated that I’d lose my sense of humor just to have admirable abs.
Lutz Hertel, Dusseldorf, Germany
Well, there are lots of challenges on offer and many will find them attractive. The Frisella version demands a lot, but I see no scientific rationale for the core prescription. The letters pretty much cover the issue, so I won’t belabor the problems.
Exercise and diet regimes are often hazardous to health. As with so many public challenges, little to nothing is said about people who fail. You want to know which challenge I have mastered? Complain less. With that in mind, I’ll say no more. Very entertaining to read all of the comments. My favorite is Grant’s. I’m tempted to follow his seductive proposal of a much more pleasant challenge. He has a unique sense of humor. Anyway, you chose an interesting story.
Kendall Dinehart and Chris Martin, Lutz, FL
(Note: Kendall Dinehart and her boyfriend Chris Martin are active participants in the 75 Hard Challenge. Aware of their involvement, I requested comments about the experience to date, in which they are currently two weeks into the program. I shared this essay and the letters-to-the-editor, requesting comments on all that, as well.)
Your REAL wellness report essays and the letters are super cool! We def felt the same about the cons you described. We made changes, including reducing the two exercise routines to a total of one hour daily!
So far, the Challenge has been great for us. Some of the workouts are going to be yoga and long walks. We are not going to overdo it.
John Hollenhorst, St. Pete Beach, FL
If following this program proves to be life-changing for someone, as Frisella claims it has for many, then I’m all for it. But the baseline would have to be couch-based for this challenge to have had any great effect.
But hey, if the bar is low and the 75 Hard Challenge encourages someone to make the leap, then that’s success.
Steve Jonas, East Setauket, NY
This program is not for everybody. In fact, I’m not sure it’s for anyone. There are other ways to mental toughness.
The claims made are eyebrow-raising, but where’s the evidence? How can we know a hundred thousand people completed this challenge?
It seems from the five pillars and other rules that the negative side-effects must be considerable.
Does Frisella have any idea what percentage of those who undertake the program drop out? Does he get reports or conduct surveys to monitor adverse side effects? Is there supervision of any kind to assess results objectively?
One basic principle known to all certified fitness trainers is that one size, one approach will NOT fit everyone. This seems to be violated in the 75 Hard regimen. Another concerns being specific about having a clear idea as to how a training program will lead to long-term lifestyle improvements. Friscella seems to overlook these foundation guidelines.
The creator of 75 Hard proclaims that his Challenge is the only program! Really? There are now and always have been countless healthy and very fit individuals who never heard of his scheme or anything remotely like it. Tens of millions somehow manage to summon the toughness and discipline required to achieve and sustain high levels of wellbeing without most of the requirements in Friscella’s Challenge.
Obviously, I’m not a fan, in fact, I’m unable to think of anyone to whom I would recommend this approach.