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What’s the Deal with 75 Hard and Will it Improve Athletic Performance?

Welcome to 2024, where the 75 Hard challenge has evidently reared its head again for yet another year. Started in 2019 by Andy Frisella (motivational speaker, podcast host, and author), the program is meant to target the holy trinity of health and wellbeing: physical fitness, emotional resilience, and mental insight.

The real question is, does it work and is it worthwhile for an athlete to take on? It is, after all, a fitness and health trend — something we all know by now to be wary of. So let’s dive in.

“They told me I’d never get this far. They were right. I got further.” — Andy Frisella

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What’s the deal with 75 Hard and will it help you as an athlete?

The Rulebook

First things first, what is involved in 75 Hard and why is it called that in the first place?

Well, we haven’t listened to the 75 Hard podcast, but we can only assume that it has to do with the time frame (75 days) and then either that it’s a hard-fast rule that resets if you fail, that it is challenging, or that it will make turn you into a harder person once you’re done (hello, resilience!). It could be all of the above. Regardless, the rules are simple: You must complete five critical tasks every day for 75 consecutive days. If you don’t complete even just one of the five tasks, the 75 day clock starts over.

Here are the tasks:
1) Follow ANY nutrition plan you want.
2) Do two, 45-minute workouts per day with at least one of them outside.
3) Drink a gallon of water (around 3.8L).
4) Read 10 pages of a nonfiction book geared towards personal development.
5) Take a progress picture.

The Good

We’re all about adding a mental and emotional game to your athletic prowess, so 75 Hard offers a lot in that realm — and a few others. Let’s break it down.

1. Building New Routines

According to this Harvard Business Review article, we tend not to differentiate between habits and routines, but there is a difference! Habits are something you do without thinking about it (and we tend to be hard on ourselves when we don’t establish them with ease) whereas routines are the step before: intentional moments and patterns of behaviors that we carve into our lives. So, 75 Hard is great for taking time to set up a new, healthy routine in your life. With the right mindset and discipline, you’ll stick to it and make it part of your life beyond the 75 days. 

2. Taking Time for Yourself

An important part of growth is self-care and taking time for yourself. One thing 75 Hard does is ensure that happens. For us, taking time to ourselves doesn’t have to be in the form of reading a personal growth book. It can include meditation, stillness, yoga, practicing gratitude, or cooking a healthy meal. If you decide to do the program and decide after 75 days that reading nonfiction isn’t for you, that’s okay! Just maintain that time for yourself and good things will come from it.

3. Eating Intentionally  

We’ve talked about mindful eating before and it can be exceptionally beneficial to athletic performance, mindset, and mindfulness. Chances are, as an athlete, you’re probably already pretty on top of your food plan, but for some of us who need a bit of motivation, the program can really help you start and stick with a plan long enough to know if it works. So, slow down, eat with intention, listen to your body, and if it isn’t working, change it. Proper hydration on top is a nice touch. While 3.8L is more than what most of us need in a day, when you’re working out and moving lots, it never hurts. Hydration is always key.

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4. Getting Outside

Spending time outside is great for your mental health, so being required to spend at least 45 minutes of your day has to be good for you, right? Depending on where you live, starting 75 Hard with the New Year can make it extra… well… hard, but in theory, you’re benefiting twice: once from the workout and once from spending quality time out in the fresh air. 

5. Movement

We’re all about pushing yourself and truly believe that movement is medicine. So, getting yourself into the habit of working out, even when you don’t want to, is awesome. It takes discipline, fortitude, and willpower to get through two grueling workouts every day and it can help you check off your fitness goals rapidly (as long as you also remember to cool down and warm up properly). If you want to get into the swing of training, doing it twice for 75 consecutive days will definitely do it.

6. Measuring Progress

Measurement is a crucial part of achieving your goals, so having a fitness measurement like taking a progress photo is actually a good thing. As an athlete, it can sometimes be hard to feel your progress or notice the change in your body and that can get really frustrating! For those who have dealt with body image issues or weight challenges, certain measurements also just don’t work. Taking progress photos can be a great way to really see your achievements at the end of the 75 days.

7. Customization

Some fads are unforgiving when it comes to making them work for your lifestyle. While 75 Hard is rigid in the fact that you have to restart anytime you misstep, it does allow for some flexibility in the meal planning and timing of the steps. You can do each step whenever you want throughout the day and your nutrition plan can be whatever you want it to be as long as you stick to it once you start.

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The Bad

In theory, everything 75 Hard has you do is great: eat well, get out of the house, push yourself physically, take time for yourself, drink water, and hone your mental fortitude. However, you know that just as much as we love pushing ourselves to the limit, we also love and respect an active rest day. Doing too much too fast can cause injury and get you out of the game for even longer. So, always find your start and work from there. Another note is that when you’re setting goals or looking to establish new routines and habits, you don’t want to take on too many new things at once. For someone who is starting their health and fitness journey from scratch, adding workouts, water, a new diet, and reading to the docket all at once can be a crash course directly to failure. Too much at once can mean you achieve nothing at all or worse, a hard knock to the confidence. Finally, there’s no real proof that the program revolutionizes your life. There are plenty of ways to achieve health and fitness goals and forcing your way through a tough 75-day challenge might not be for you.

75 Hard As An Athlete

As an athlete, it’s likely you already have established some healthy habits in a few of the areas 75 Hard targets. It’s so easy to jump on the bandwagon for fad programs. Will 75 Hard make a huge difference to your performance and help you achieve your peak athleticism? Probably not. If there’s something you want to work on, like drinking more water, trying a new nutrition program to hit your protein goals, or honing mindfulness for better mental resilience during games, focus specifically on that. Set your SMART goals, find your motivations, and discover the drive to get you to and through the rigorous training you’re already doing. Don’t revolutionize everything for 75 days. 

“One of the major benefits of this program is that it promotes consistency. Consistency is key when it comes to seeing results from any type of health and fitness plan.” — Noah Quezada

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