Is the “75 Hard Challenge” Right for you?
Written by Kim McLaughlin

**this piece is not meant to take anything away from anyone who has done and completed the 75 hard challenge. It is purely an editorial on the pros and cons of doing a challenge like this**

The 75 Hard Challenge was recently completed by three of our Invictus San Diego members and they have rave reviews.  Anytime we hear about someone (or multiple people in this case) successfully completing a challenge where they experienced both physical and mental transformations as a result, it’s natural to wonder if this might be the “challenge” we’ve been in search of as well.  

It’s hard to change our normal day to day habits so they reflect the healthy lifestyle we know we all CAN lead. It seems like if we were just a little more disciplined or if something didn’t always get in the way to knock us off course we’d be much closer to our health and fitness goals.  Challenges have become extremely popular in the fitness world as a way to jump start those changes in habit or to “prove” that we can do it if we just focus on it (ie. Whole 30, The Invictus Look Good, Feel Good Challenge, etc).   The “75 Hard” challenge is no exception to that.

In case you missed the post about Daniel, Sara, and Andrew’s experience, the rules to 75 Hard are:

There are five rules that must be adhered to daily:

  1. Stick to a diet plan: This can be any diet (keto, macros, paleo, low fat, carnivore, etc); There are no cheat meals or days; No alcohol
  2. Two 45-minute workouts per day: One must be outside no matter the weather
  3. One gallon of water per day
  4. Take a daily progress photo
  5. Read 10 pages of a non-fiction book

If you miss any one of these rules at any point during the 75 days, you must start the challenge over at day one.

So what are the benefits and potential downsides to this somewhat extreme challenge?


  • Like most fitness and lifestyle challenges, the intention behind the first two rules is to combine good nutrition and fitness to promote a healthier lifestyle. This, often times, results in weight loss which can be a big goal of many of our members. In just 75 days, many people have seen phenomenal physical transformations.
  • Most Americans do not drink enough water on any given day. We consume plenty of coffee and soda, but for some reason, hitting a daily intake of even half a gallon of water is extremely challenging for most people. Drinking a gallon of water in a day will certainly ensure that you are well hydrated and that can be beneficial for a number of internal bodily functions including digestion, cell function, and proper fascial movement around our muscles.
  • Reading is something a lot of us strive to do more of in our lives but there never seems to be enough time.  If you take part in this challenge and read just 10 pages a day for 75 days, this would mean you would complete a total of 750 pages over the course of 2.5 months. Depending on the length of the books and the topics chosen (even with in the non-fiction genre, there are plenty of ways to go with this one), this could result in several books read, potentially boosting your knowledge in some area(s), improving skillsets, mindset, etc.
  • The 75 Hard challenge requires about 2 – 2.5 hours of time per day to complete all of the tasks required (1.5 hours alone for just exercising). Many participants report realizing that they have far more time in their day than they originally thought before embarking on their journey.

Potential Downsides

#1 – This is an extreme challenge.

There is no way around that fact. The challenge of sticking to any ONE of the rules of the  challenge for 75 days is daunting in and of itself.  Add to that 4 additional rules with the consequence of one missed step being a complete failure of the entire thing, and there are far more people who start the program and never finish than there are “success” stories.

According to many of the people who partake in the challenge, though, that’s part of the appeal – it’s supposed to be HARD. If that’s what you’re looking for, great.  Go for it.

But… before you do…do you remember the extremely popular tv show – The Biggest Loser? Every single one of those participants saw huge success on the “ranch”.  But, like the 75 hard Challenge, it was an extreme challenge. Participants were working out 6-8 hours a day and had all of their meals prepared for them. There was no access to all of the guilty treats they would have access to in the real world without some sort of burpee penalty. There were no work dinners to attend at fancy restaurants where alcohol consumption is part of the “schmoozing”. There were no kid schedules and pizza parties to deal with. You get the idea.

Every single one of those participants saw success and some of them even managed to hold onto that weight loss and lifestyle change for a few months afterwards. BUT… do a google search to see how they’re all doing now and it’s not a great advertisement for extreme challenges.

How to combat this downside:

  • True change takes more than 75 days. For many of the challenge participants, this protocol is too extreme to partake in for the rest of your life, so what happens after the challenge is over.  Unfortunately, there is no exit strategy outlined on the website.  After the 75 days, you’re on your own.  If you choose to do the 75 Hard Challenge, come up with an exit strategy before you start so the benefits you experience aren’t all for nothing.
  • Why not start with just 1 of the rules and then habit stack on top of that when that one starts to become a bit more natural? 
  • What if you chose a challenge that you could do for 3-4 days a week forever instead of something that is only sustainable for 75 days?
  • There is no denying that “life happens” and something will inevitably get in the way.  Try not to take an “all-or-nothing” approach.  What if you did 75 Hard in 90 Days? Is that more sustainable for your unique.  That is definitely better than not starting at all.

#2 – Are your goals in line with this challenge?

Before you start the 75 Hard, what are the end results you’re hoping for?  This challenge is surprisingly vague with the outcomes you’ll achieve.  It advertises “increased confidence, self-esteem, self-worth, self-belief, fortitude, grittiness, discipline”. Are those the things you’re hoping to improve in the next 75 days? Remember – this challenge does NOT advertise weight loss (although that is a common side effect of the extreme exercising and the diet), nor does it advertise muscle growth. In order to do either of those things and have any long term success, you need to have a plan that is sustainable long term. Muscle growth requires rest days and the right program design. Fat loss requires knowing your true daily calorie expenditure and figuring out how to create a calorie deficit using that information.

If you are trying to create more discipline in your life, is spending 2.5 hours a day working out in line with the type of discipline you need?

 #3 – What happens when life happens?

My least favorite part of this challenge is that there is no room for “life” to happen. If you work 8 hours a day, workout 2.5 hours a day, and sleep 8 hours a day, that does not leave much room anything else including the things that make life worth living –friends, family, relationships and fun.

Sometimes things happen. We have to work late, a schedule change happens last minute, or we get stuck in traffic. According to this challenge, it doesn’t matter. I agree that we can sometimes use things like these as an excuse when they don’t need to be but sometimes it’s smarter to give yourself some grace and pick up where you left off the next day. Dealing with the curve balls that life throws is often a harder task than just sticking to a plan because “that’s the plan and it says to do it”.

The idea of doing something hard and sticking with it even when it’s uncomfortable or you want to quit is very appealing and many of us are quick to throw in the towel at the slightest inconvenience so I don’t hate the spirit behind the 75 hard challenge.

BUT… before you start something because it looks hard and you like the results everyone else has seen doing it. Check to see if it’s in line with your goals, come up with a plan for when life throws you curveballs and make sure you can sustain it well past 75 days. I would encourage everyone to create new lifelong habits rather than chunking their life with 75 day success stories only to see those successes slip away with time.

If we can learn to change little habits day to day, we won’t be drawn in by sparkly challenges that may only result in short lived, fleeting feelings of accomplishment

Notify me of
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Scroll to Top