I'd first heard of the 75Hard Challenge in mid 2019. It's a 75-day challenge started by Andy Frisella, founder of 1st Phorm, Arete Syndicate, and the MFCEO and Real AF Podcasts.
A few people I know had completed 75Hard and I was inspired by their progress and the mindset shift they seemed to go through. After talking with them about their experience I was set on tackling it at the start of 2020 to coincide with some of my new year goals.
While out for lunch one day my wife pointed out that the final 75 days of the year was coming up in just a couple of days. With this timing and her support, and a little nudge from some of my more savage Facebook friends, I figured there was no better time to do it.
2 days later, on October 18th, I thrust myself into the challenge (in the midst of CrossFit Open, which I was also participating in.)
What Exactly is 75Hard?
The challenge consists of the following tasks, which must be completed every day without exception:
- Two 45-minute workouts (you define what the workouts are)
- Drink 1 gallon of water
- Read 10 pages of a personal development/business/self help book
- Stick to a diet (you define the diet)
- No alcohol or cheat meals
- Take a progress picture
There are also a few rules:
- You must complete all 75 days in a row; if you miss a single day you fail. Failure means any deviation from your plan, in the strictest sense. No substitutions, no catch-up days, no excuses.
- If you fail, you must start over on day 1
- One of the daily workouts must be outside, no matter what the weather conditions are
- Audiobooks do not count toward the reading goal
- The day ends when you go to bed
More details about 75Hard can be found on the MFCEO Podcast, episode 290 or at 75Hard.com (I recommend the podcast, but only if you like foul language and intense people, which I do.)
On Completing the 75Hard Challenge
Completing 75Hard was both awesome and difficult, and wasn't without hiccups.
It's no coincidence that I chose to do 75Hard over the "food and drink" holidays—Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas break, and New Year's Eve. It's also the coldest time of the year, so the outdoor workouts would be pretty uncomfortable. I had the option to wait until the new year, but I decided I'd prefer to do it during the hardest time of the year. I'm a big believer in the importance of friction when pursuing change and growth, so this was a perfect opportunity.
It was the right choice.
Big Wins in My 75Hard Challenge
- I landed a 300lb deadlift PR on New Years Eve while the rest of the world was out celebrating (no judgement here, I wish I was there with you!) I had put off the workouts until the end of the day, and the fireworks turned out to be a fun complement to the final workout.
- Having a plan and sticking to it has given me a lot of insight into what works for me and what doesn't. I went into January with a plan, and already have a plan for February and March.
- I exercised while sick, while tired, during terrible weather, in the freezing cold, in the middle of the night, with family in town, while traveling, and during 4 major holidays. This showed me that there's always time to exercise if you prioritize it.
- I had great support from friends and family, and 75Hard is an interesting topic to talk about with others
- I actually have before/after photos of myself, and something exciting to document
- Number of days in the challenge: 75
- Gallons of water drank: 75+
- Number of nights I woke up to pee multiple times: All of them
- Number of workouts completed: 150
- Number of times I said "I don't feel like working out": 150
- Number of times I was glad I worked out: 150
- Length of each workout: 45+ minutes
- Total workout time: 112.5+ hours
- Total pounds lost: 5 (weight loss was not a goal; my focus was on strength training and overall health)
- Total books read: About 4
- Active calories burned:
- October: 11,672+
- November: 25,143+
- December: 17,587+
- Total: 54,402+
- Steps taken:
- October: 323,981+
- November: 385,830+
- December: 403,682+
- Total: 1,113,493+ (Over a million!)
- Daily average walking/running distance:
- October: 5.1mi+
- November: 6.2mi+
- December: 6.1mi+
- Number of workouts completed in the rain: 2
- Number of workouts completed after midnight: 41
75Hard - The Good
- Tasks are clear and it's straightforward to complete them
- There's a great community of people online participating in the challenge
- Each day ends when you go to bed so you can always complete the daily tasks, even if that means going to bed late
- Progress pictures showed major changes in the first half of the challenge
- Despite the physical component, 75Hard isn't designed to be a fitness challenge; it's designed to be a psychological challenge. Improved physical fitness is a side effect of pushing yourself every day to complete the difficult list of tasks.
75Hard - The Bad
- It's long and it's difficult to complete! There will be days when "life happens" and you'll want to sabotage it. Don't do it.
- It would be really easy to go straight downhill after completing the plan (tip: have a re-entry plan; I created a 31-day plan for January which I started immediately.)
- Unless you are really regimented with your schedule (I'm not!) you will probably find yourself completing the tasks late at night on occasion. I went to bed several times at 2AM or later. This can be hard to recover from because it's painful to wake up early and get a jump on the next day.
- Our entire household got hit by a bad virus at the start of December (involving 2 urgent care visits, and late nights taking care of sick kids.) Because of this, I ended up doing a lot of walking in the month instead of strength training or CrossFit. As a result progress pictures showed less noticeable changes, which was frustrating! I wanted to ramp up during the last 30 days, not slow down.
Why 75Hard is the Perfect Challenge
75Hard is designed to be challenging, not necessarily difficult. Completing the plan and starting a new one felt like a natural shift, and because it's so intense any new plan seems relatively easy. The first few days of January have been a breeze, even though they were a big leap from where I was before 75Hard.
You get to define the diet and exercise portions, and you choose which books you will read. This is a double-edged sword; anyone can complete 75Hard, but it's entirely possible to sandbag the entire challenge by making it too easy. The key is to define a plan that's challenging for you, and to stick with it. The harder you make it, the more you'll get out of it.
In a pinch, all of the daily tasks *can* be done at the end of the day, but this is really hard to do. The plan encourages you to "Eat That Frog" and complete the tasks earlier in the day. Great for procrastinators like me!
The act of completing the daily activities is binary—you either complete them, or you don't. If you don't complete them, you fail. Failing is painful, but fully recoverable. You can still complete the program if you fail by restarting on day 1, and you'd actually get more out of it this way.
Regarding the length of the challenge, 75 days feels perfect. It's longer than a 30-day challenge, so it's long enough to help you establish new habits and ideas. It's also shorter than a 90-day challenge, which feels too long for something so intense. To me, it hits that sweet spot of "just over 2 months" which feels achievable.
Lastly, the daily tasks are varied and they contribute to your health, learning, vitality, vulnerability, and strength against addictions and vices (for those who need it.)
All in, 75Hard was an awesome experience and I'm thankful I did it. At the very least I'm considering doing it for the last 75 days of 2020, though I may tackle it earlier.
Thinking of Doing 75Hard Too?
You should! Send me an email () or connect with me on Facebook. I'd be happy to email you and chat with you along your journey to help you keep going. You'll be glad you did.