How to Create Your Own 75 Soft Challenge

Experts share tips for making the “mental toughness” challenge, called 75 Hard, more doable.


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The 75 Hard challenge is going strong. Created in 2019 by Andy Frisella, CEO of the supplement company 1st Phorm, the 75 Hard challenge involves completing five daily diet, exercise, and mental toughness tasks for 75 days. If you don’t complete each task in a day, you must begin the 75-day challenge again on day one.

According to the official website, 75 Hard is “a transformative mental toughness program.” By committing to the program, Frisella says, you will create positive, permanent changes in the way you live your life.

However, while the challenge encourages healthy lifestyle habits, many people find the rules too extreme to provide the transformative benefits, Frisella claims.

“Extreme programs such as the 75 Hard set people up for failure from the start, both physically and psychologically,” says Tom Holland, C.S.C.S., exercise physiologist and author of The Micro-Workout Plan. “[Challenges like this] often lead to injury and erode a person’s self-efficacy, or their belief that they have what it takes to be successful at pursuing a goal.”

In other words, failing to complete the program because it was too strict and extreme can have a negative effect on your mental outlook. You may end up feeling less motivated and confident to work toward a health or fitness goal than you were before the challenge.

But even if the 75 Hard program is out of reach, you can tweak it to make it more doable. By modifying the rules, you can create a challenge that helps you make sustainable lifestyle changes.

Here, we explain how to do just that, including what a “75 Soft” challenge looks like, plus expert advice for tailoring the original rules to fit your goals, fitness level, and preferences.

How to Turn “75 Hard” Into “75 Soft” to Better Fit Your Lifestyle

75 Hard Challenge Rule: Follow a Nutrition Plan of Your Choice—But No Alcohol or Cheat Days

The first 75 Hard rule is somewhat flexible in that you can choose which nutrition plan you’d like to follow, whether that’s Mediterraneanketo, vegan, paleo, DASH or any other diet. However, even if your diet of choice isn’t very strict, you’re still expected to strictly follow that eating plan—and avoid alcohol—for 75 days.

“Going on a restrictive diet without any flexibility to allow certain foods you enjoy can lead to disordered eating, particularly when veering off from the food rules results in feelings of failure,” says Kelly Jones, a board-certified sports dietitian who works with athletes and active families. “Additionally, this can result in people missing out on special meals and moments with their families, as well as restricting their social life.”

75 Soft Approach: Focus on What to Add to Your Diet

Instead of avoiding specific foods, try adding some. Jones suggests setting daily protein and fibre goals, such as eating at least 1.6 grams of protein per kilogram of your bodyweight and at least 25 grams of fiber per day. You can also focus on getting a specific number of servings of fruits and vegetables per day (the current recommendations are four to five servings but start with a manageable amount if you’re getting much less than that).

These types of eating goals encourage a more positive diet approach. “In the process, you’ll feel more satiated and be less likely to crave added sugars and less nutrient-dense options, and therefore may reach your goals of eating less of those foods without a scarcity mindset,” Jones explains.

75 Hard Challenge Rule: Do Two 45-Minute Workouts a Day With One Outside

“When the number-one reason given for not exercising is lack of time, requiring people to find two separate 45-minute windows of time [to exercise] every day for 75 days is unrealistic and unnecessary,” Holland says.

Moreover, while exercising outdoors offers many physical and mental benefits, requiring one workout outside every day is unrealistic and potentially dangerous. Holland notes that you may be forced to exercise in extreme heat or cold, unsafe areas, and darkness, among other risks.

75 Soft Approach: Set Weekly Exercise Goals

A more sustainable exercise goal that can work for different fitness levels is to follow (or work up to) the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) guidelines for physical activity, says Amie Dworecki, an RRCA- and USATF-certified running coach and personal trainer.

The current recommendation is to get at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic exercise, such as brisk walking or jogging per week, or 75 minutes of vigorous-intensity exercise, along with two full-body strength workouts. That translates into roughly five 30-minute cardio workouts and two strength sessions per week. Dworecki suggests aiming to reach or follow this baseline schedule, especially if you’re not exercising consistently yet.

“If you want to stick to the theme of following a daily workout plan, you can ‘enforce’ two recovery days per week,” she says. You can take a short walk, go to a yoga class, or rest completely. But by including recovery days, you always have a daily activity goal to work toward.

If none of these suggestions appeal to you, rest assured there are countless ways to scale the 75 Hard rule. Here are a few options, per Gagliardi:

  • Beginner: Any amount or type of physical activity once per day
  • Intermediate: Two 10-minute workouts per day
  • Advanced: One 45-minute workout per day

75 Hard Challenge Rule: Drink 1 Gallon of Water a Day

This 75 Hard rule may be well-intentioned, but hydration isn’t one-size-fits-all. “While hydration is an important component of overall health, this ‘rule’ doesn’t consider individual differences such as bodyweight, activity level, sweat rate, and more. It also doesn’t account for other fluids consumed throughout the day,” Holland notes. Some people could end up consuming too many fluids and others too few.

75 Soft Approach: Figure Out Your Individual Hydration Needs

Because individual fluid needs vary depending on body size, environment, and other factors, it’s best to use urine color to gauge hydration. “Colorless to slightly yellow is generally a sign of good hydration,” Holland notes.

To boost your water intake, set a goal to add 1 cup of water to each meal, suggests Christopher Gagliardi, C.S.C.S., scientific education content manager at the American Council on Exercise (ACE). Or, if you currently drink sugar-sweetened beverages, swap them out with plain water or unsweetened options.

75 Hard Challenge Rule: Read 10 Pages of a Nonfiction or Personal Development Book a Day

“Reading ten pages of a nonfiction, personal-development focused book per day can be an admirable goal,” Dworecki says. “Still, it can be challenging partly because everyone learns and absorbs information differently.” Some people are visual learners, while others are auditory and others tactile.

Moreover, a personal development book may not be the right choice for everyone. You can learn new things and enrich your life by reading other genres, including fiction, poetry, essays, and more.

75 Soft Approach: Take 10 Minutes a Day to Learn Something New

If personal development appeals to you, choose a topic that’s related to your goal. But don’t limit yourself to personal development topics if those don’t interest you.

Then, consider what type of learner you are and choose a format that suits you. For example, an auditory learner may prefer listening to an audiobook for 10 minutes a day, while a tactile learner may opt for an online course that enables them to click and explore different topics, Dworecki says.

75 Hard Challenge Rule: Take a Progress Photo

Progress photos can help you see physical changes from your behaviors over time, but for many people, they only create a negative self-image. “Progress pictures result in people picking apart their body more than they would without the photos,” Kelly says. “I’ve worked with people who never thought what their photos showed was enough, even after major shifts in their body composition.”

Plus, taking a daily progress photo may not make sense if your goal is unrelated to how your body looks, Dworecki notes.

75 Soft Approach: Figure Out Your Goal, Then Track It

“I would start by thinking about why you want to make [lifestyle] changes and how you will know if they’re working,” says Gagliardi. “From there, you can determine an appropriate way to track the progress that’s meaningful for you.”

For example, are you looking to feel healthier, more energised, or mentally positive? Write a short journal entry every day and rate how you feel on a scale of 0 to 10, where 0 is the worst rating and 10 is the best.

Or, are you trying to form a consistent habit? Use a calendar to keep track of which days you met your goal, Dworecki says.

If you’re interested in tracking a body-related measurement, Jones suggests using a body composition analyzer (many gyms have these), which offer more accurate measurements of fat and muscle mass than a scale or progress photo.

The 75 Soft Challenge General Rules

Largely credited to TikTok influencer, Stephen Gallagher, you can also follow these general rules for making the 75 Hard challenge a little more approachable with a 75 Soft angle:

  1. Eat well in general and avoid alcohol except for social occasions.
  2. Exercise once for 45 minutes each day, with one day of active recovery each week.
  3. Drink 3 liters of water daily.
  4. Read 10 pages of any book each day.

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