75 Hard Challenge – Rules and Guidance To Crush The Next 75 Days And Leave The Excuses Behind

75 hard challenge

I’ve made it to the other side. Before 75 Hard, I was struggling to put words to a concept I had been circling on for years. Coming off the sale of a company I built from the ground up, I was utterly aimless, looking for the answers to big questions. The problem was, I was looking for those answers outside of myself, but the 75 Hard Challenge helped me dig deep and find them from within. Here is my journey with the 75 Hard Challenge.

What Is 75 Hard?

what is 75 hard challenge

The 75 Hard Challenge is a program lasting 75 days with a simple set of rules designed to build confidence, self-esteem, and grittiness through a no excuses challenge. The rules focus on self-development in a way that forces you to earn the traits you want to possess. You’ll undertake this 75-day challenge, following the rules carefully, but if you slip up even one day, you have to start all over again.

75 hard tracking sheet

What 75 Hard Isn’t – What most people get wrong

On its face, 75 Hard looks like a fitness challenge, a run of the mill program that will get you into shape. This couldn’t be further from the truth. You may notice the benefits of improved fitness, such as losing weight and gaining strength, but it’s not the main purpose of 75 Hard. The program is all about building the mental fortitude you need to set yourself up for a successful life.

This challenge is entirely mental. You are going to do difficult things because they are difficult, because they build grittiness. You don’t allow excuses to get in the way because they are all bullshit and, in the end, you’re only cheating yourself.

The set of simple rules are designed to challenge you in different ways. Some will be easy; some will be hard. Added up together, the sum of one day at a time for 75 days without compromise,, pushes you to become the person you strive to be.

Why 75 Hard Is Effective

75 hard effectiveness

Like I mentioned, the rules are simple, but the continual execution is the real challenge. Over the past few years I’ve learned the value of doing things that are difficult, because they are difficult in and of themselves.

It’s hard to really articulate why doing what is hard is such a powerful force, why it makes all the difference. I could say that challenging yourself builds character. I might say that if we don’t commit to continual improvement that we cheat ourselves. But all those descriptions feel like a platitude.

At the end of your days – and to some extent the end of 75 hard – you have to look yourself in the eye and take your measure. What will be the honest evaluation of the life you led, will you have reached your full potential or left some of it on the table?

75 Hard Challenge Rules

The rules seem pretty simple but they’re designed to collectively be a challenge. The real trial is starting over at day one if you slip up even once.

75 hard challenge rules

  1. Exercise twice each day for 45 minutes – one must be outdoors.
  2. Drink one gallon of water per day.
  3. Pick a diet and stick to it with absolutely NO CHEAT MEALS and NO ALCOHOL.
  4. Read a minimum of 10 pages every day of a self-development or business book.
  5. Take one progress photo each day.


75 hard tracking sheet

Rule Clarifications

  • Exercise can be anything that meets your fitness goals, the point is to improve each day
  • The workouts can’t be back to back or one long workout, you should have at least 3 hours between them
  • Exercise can be anything that is physical in nature that matches your intentions and seems difficult
  • Exercise does include Yoga and walking if you do it with intention
  • During your exercise, you can include warm ups and stretching as long as you do it with intention
  • There is not specific diet, you choose what’s right for you and stick to it
  • Your diet doesn’t have to count calories or macros unless the progress you want to make dictates it
  • Even if it fits in your diet, all foods should be “clean foods” define what that means before you start, stick to it
  • No “cheat days” or “re-feed days” you must stick to your diet 100%
  • You don’t necessarily have to count calories, but you do need to eat the foods prescribed in your diet
  • Water only counts if it’s just water. Coffee, sports drinks, mixes, shakes etc don’t count towards your water
  • Coffee, diet sodas, teas, protein shakes, and other drinks are okay, but must comply with your diet
  • You need to read your pages from an actual book: podcasts or audiobooks don’t count
  • A day is considered when you wake up to when you go to bed, not just a normal 24 day

In general, there are some areas that you’ll have to make a judgement call on if you find a circumstance that isn’t covered above.  The best advice I can give you is that you define what your standards are.  Consider the intention behind them, think about what progress you want to make.  Write these standards down and if they seem very difficult, then you’ll know you’re on the right track.  Then stick to them without compromise.

Get The Full Details In The 75 Hard Podcast Episodes

75 hard original podcast

75 hard kettlebell workout

Here is the original podcast that started it all with Andy Frisella.

weight training for 75 hard

Here is a follow up podcast episode that clarified some things.

My Journey With 75 Hard

my 75 hard challenge journey

I had happened upon the MFCEO podcast with Andy Frisella near the end of the year, a time when I start to think about my goals for the coming year. I wish I could say it was something more intentional, but I wasn’t feeling energized about the year ahead. As Andy laid out the simple rules to 75 Hard, something clicked in my brain and I said “screw it, I’m going to do it”.

At first, I thought to myself that I’d start at the first of the year, which was a fair way off, but then I caught myself. I was thinking in a way that was exactly what 75 Hard was meant to fix. So again, I said “screw it, I’ll start tomorrow”. Little did I know, the joke was on me.

The First Days Of 75 Hard

ryan hikingThe next day I woke up to do my first workout, which had to be outside, and it was pouring down rain. Not only was it raining, but it was also only 33 degrees, just warm enough to not be snow.. I was totally soaked from the cold rain and damn near froze. Not going to lie, I cursed Andy’s name the entire time, but I didn’t make excuses and I got it done.

I went on doing my workouts, eating my keto diet, reading my books, drinking my water and taking my photos. Starting out, I think the worst was drinking a gallon of water per day. I was peeing every 20 minutes and my stomach felt so full, so often. I had already cut out alcohol and soda and replaced those with water prior to 75 hard, but I never drank this much water. It took me a full week to get used to drinking so much water.

For me the diet was the easiest part, which is probably the opposite for most people. Purely out of preference I don’t drink at all, haven’t for over a decade. I also had started a keto diet almost 2 years ago, so now it was simply a default behavior, not something new.

When Things Got Tough

My next challenge was when life threw me some curveballs and I had to still make it all happen. Remember that if you fail to follow the rules, you have to start back at day one.; There was no way I was going to let that happen.

The first challenge was realizing at 11 pm while I was on a date that I had only completed one of my workouts. Explaining to my date why I needed to go for a walk in the middle of the night was the first time I told anyone I was even doing this. I think mentally I wasn’t publicizing that I was doing the challenge, because if I admitted it to others, I was accountable.

I realized this was just another step in building mental fortitude: being accountable to those around you. Somehow, my date just rolled with the punches and decided to join me, despite the freezing cold temperatures and the fact that it was midnight.

The next challenge occurred while I was on a cruise to the Bahamas. While in the middle of the ocean, the water main broke on the ship and we were without water all day. I had only about 20 ounces of water in my bottle at the time. While the ship offered up free sodas to smooth things over, soda and other drinks don’t count. At 11:30 PM when the water came back on, I sat down with 108 ounces of water before me and started to drink.

Finally, the last major challenge I faced was on a road trip. I had gotten up really early to make it to my destination on time, driving all day. I was sitting in my car the entire time, not able to work out. I got to the hotel after midnight and the very last thing I wanted to do was work out. I seriously considered abandoning it all right then. Despite my brain screaming at me to just go to bed, I got on the treadmill at 1 AM and started running.

In the fog of my exhaustion I realized about 40 minutes in that my next workout had to be outside! I finished my first 45 minutes, read my 10 pages, then walked out the front door of the hotel at 2 AM to do my final workout. It was brutal.

75 hard tracking sheet

75 Hard Workout Options

workout programs for 75 hard challenge

The one thing that I really liked about this challenge was that it wasn’t dogmatic about what diet or workout regime you choose. Since this isn’t a fitness challenge, but a mental toughness challenge, the point isn’t to achieve some fitness ideal. It also meets you wherever you are right now, so you don’t have to worry about having to be a certain fitness level to start. This was great for me, having focused on diet for so long, I had pretty much not worked out for over a year.

You start where you are and just get it done. Most days I either did weights and then a walk for my second workout or went for a run, then my second workout was a walk. The only rules are they need to be at least 45 minutes each and one of them has to be outside, no matter what.

Workout Programs

Darebee – HIIT Workout Program

I like Darebee’s approach because it’s pretty straight forward and the resources are free. HIIT (High Intensity Interval Training) is a very effective approach for those who want to get in and out of the gym.

Strong Lifts 5×5

This is another very popular one that doesn’t have a lot of frills and is free. I like this one because it keeps it pretty simple, but he also includes tutorials with each of the recommendations, so it’s good if you’re just starting out.

reddit bodyweightfitness
Reddit’s Bodyweight Workout

Don’t have a gym, don’t have weights, now you don’t have excuses. Here is a program that you can do with just body weight. It’s from sub-reddit r/bodyweightfitness and is free.

p90-x program

A classic, but also a pretty practical at home workout set. They include a diet program too, if you want it. Not free, but you can get it for $139 online from various retailers.

75 Hard Diet Options

diet options for 75 hard

Much like the workout portion, you can choose any diet you like, which is great because you can choose something that works for you and your goals. The important notes here are that you have to stick to it rigidly, you can’t do any cheat days and you can’t drink any alcohol regardless of what program you do.

Andy made the point in his talk that you don’t have to count calories, but you need to stick to the prescription of the diet you choose. Simply tracking what you eat has been shown to reduce your calorie intake by 20-30%.

75 hard tracking sheet

Diet Options

ketogenic diet

Keto is a low carb, medium protein and high fat diet that focuses on mitigating insulin swings in your body. Personally, I do the Keto diet and have found it to not only to help me lose weight, but it also suits my eating preferences naturally. I’ve never been a big drinker, I don’t crave pasta or sweets like some people do, and I already ate many of the common keto foods before I even started.

I was looking to slim down, but also manage my insulin swings to keep up my energy. I’ve always been one to have big dips after lunch and it was cutting into my effectiveness. After doing keto for almost 2 years at this point, my blood tests are showing that keto is dramatically improving all my numbers across the board. I’ve almost stopped snoring, lost a ton of weight, my energy is up, and I enjoy what I eat.

whole 30 diet
Whole 30

Whole 30 focuses on eating foods that aren’t made up of a lot of ingredients. The idea is to eat clean whole foods that you can recognize. The basic rules are no added sugars, no alcohol, no grains or legumes, no dairy, etc. You aren’t supposed to weigh yourself for the 30 days either, just focus on eating clean and healthy.

dash diet program
Dash Diet – Counting Calories

This is another common one that really centers around eating healthier and counting calories. This diet has come under some scrutiny in recent years, but eating healthier and watching calories are never a bad thing.

75 Hard Challenge Book Ideas

75 hard challenge book ideas

Here are some book ideas for your challenge, the first three were the ones I read during my time. These books were in addition to the other books I read for fun. Each month I read about 5 books, so reading wasn’t a big deal for me. While I read I used these book darts to quickly mark things that I wanted to refer back to.

Book Ideas

the last safe investment

The Last Safe Investment

by Bryan Franklin

the coaching habit

The Coaching Habit

by Michael Staniar

radical candor

Radical Candor

by Kim Scott

big magic

Big Magic

by Elizabeth Gilbert

the e myth revisited

The E-Myth Revisited

by Michael Gerber



by Gino Wickman

six thinking hats

Six Thinking Hats

by Edward de Bono

the 100 dollar startup

The $100 Startup

by Chris Guillebeau

leaders eat last

Leaders Eat Last

by Simon Sinek

75 Hard Results

my 75 hard results

For me I saw a decent drop in weight because I ate mostly the same while increasing the number of calories burned, my photos showed me lean out some, but I think the real surprise for me was in my heart rate. My heart rate has dropped by about 20ish bpm in my resting state and my recovery rate improved dramatically.

What used to be my resting rate, I could now achieve roughly the same BPM while doing a casual walk. I also dramatically upped my endurance while running. When I started, I hadn’t worked out in a very long time, I could jog around 4.5 miles per hour for about 10 minutes. Near the end of my 75 days, I was running at 6 miles per hour for 20 minutes AND my heart rate would almost fully recover in under 2 minutes.

Tip: To keep myself honest and not take it easy on my workouts, I made a rule near the start of 75 days: I had to one up whoever was on the treadmill next to me. I’d glance at their incline and speed, beat it, then push to run longer than they did. Obviously I couldn’t always keep up, but it pushed me. I don’t think most of them noticed… except one guy, I ran circles around him.

I had hoped to make more progress with my weight lifting, but about 20 days into it I hurt some of the ligaments in my elbow that required me to take it easy while it healed. That’s when I shifted focus to running, which let me still move forward.

Other People’s Results With The 75 Hard Challenge

I’m certainly not alone in this journey, here are a few before and afters that people have posted.

before and after 75 hard
Don’t get me wrong, I’ll be a Bud Light girl forever. But water ( sometimes with flavor) is my only drink (besides coffee) these days. . . Here’s a little behind the scenes on how these 2 women, although both me, are no where near similar. . . Top: December 2018 Unhappy. Trying to mask my anxiety & depression with food & alcohol. Full of self pity. Not taking responsibility for why my life was sucky. Was a miserable bitch to everyone around me. . . Bottom: February 1, 2020 Genuinely happy. Controlling my anxiety & depression with exercise & healthy foods. Have taken control of my life & realized I was the reason my life was sucky. Spread positivity & smile as much as possible. I’d say I’m a freaking joy to be around these days!

follow @_cortney_brown_

no excuses 75 hard challenge
If you’re postponing #75HARD for after #Thanksgiving DINNER or after the holidays or after the 1st of the year, I have a message for you. YOU DON’T REALLY NEED CHANGE! If you’re not even ready to jump in right a way in the inception state and get excited to start RIGHT F****** NOW, it wouldn’t work … you will quit. You are still MENTALY SOFT. The MOST important part about this challenge is commitment. Commitment to yourself , that you will not give up on yourself , that you care about yourself to “have yourself’s back” and love yourself enough to show up for YOU!

follow @professionalproblemsolver

75 hard complete
#75HARD COMPLETE!! * So Friday, September 6 at midnight my 75 days were up. I started this journey back up after failing back in February on the first attempt. * What you see in these two pictures are a physical change but what you can’t see is the mental change that took place during these 75 days. * I was the type of individual who would care what people thought. * Who wouldn’t get out of their bubble because of some dumb reasoning in my head. * Who would procrastinate and say “I’ll just do that tomorrow.” * Who thought they were too busy to start something extra to better themselves.

follow @nickmay121

75 hard routine
I am willing to… Get up early and do my morning routine. Go outside no matter the weather and do a 45 min workout. Pass on the chips or fast food and eat a macro balanced diet and track every bite. Work my 8 hours then come home and do another 45 min workout instead of watching tv. Drink a gallon of water. No alcohol. Enrich my mind with daily reading, podcasts and audible books. Visualize my future life. Take a 5 min cold shower. Write down a gratitude list and 10 dreams as if they have happened. It starts with that question. What are you willing to do to get all the things you say you want?

follow @denaespinosa47

When John told me about this challenge he wanted to do I told him it sounded ridiculous. Stupid. Unrealistic. Then after a couple of days of him not changing his mind on it, I decided I might as well do it with him. I started out with the plan of doing 30 days or so, then quitting if it got too hard. And here I am, 75 days later. The truth is- it did get hard. But we stuck it out together. I’m glad it’s over. But it was worth every one of those 75 days. Before: 176 lbs, 21.4% body fat After: 154 lbs, 13.5% body fat #75hard #75HardChallenge

follow @marquileland

Want To Try The 75 Hard Challenge?

Ask yourself this: at the end of the 75 days, will you feel that you’re better or worse for doing it? We all know the right answer, but we don’t match our behavior with what we know to be true. Don’t wait to start, start tomorrow.

75 hard tracking sheet

Your Turn!

  • Have you tried 75 hard, what was your biggest challenge?
  • What excuses are you making?
1 Comment
  1. I want to start this program but just wanted to clarify a couple things since there are so many things that are contradictive. May I use liquid enhancer in my water for electrolytes. The doctors have told me I need those electrolytes for my heart after recovering from anorexia

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