75 Hard has a cult following. Is it worth all the effort?

Two 45-minute workouts a day. A gallon of water. 10 pages of a non-fiction book. A diet. No “cheat meals” or alcohol are allowed. For 75 days.

And if you make a mistake, you’ll have to start from the beginning.

Does that sound like a lot? It’s supposed to be that way. The program, called 75 hard, It is meant to develop mental toughness. Some say the rigidity is what makes it great, and others say that makes it problematic.

Since its inception in 2019, 75 Hard has developed something of a cult following, with practitioners posting daily progress photos and videos that sometimes rack up millions of views. on tiktok and instagram. One of the biggest on Reddit. subredditswith more than 44,000 members, is dedicated to the program.

But is it beneficial and are the changes sustainable? Psychologists say that while the program may have mental health benefits, certain vulnerable groups may be trying too hard without reaping benefits. Exercise experts also say the regimen could be too strenuous for those who are not yet young and active, and could lead to physical injury.

“It may sound really cool, exciting and useful, but is this something that is ultimately really useful, sustainable and good for the person?” asked Dr. Thea Gallagher, a clinical psychologist and director of wellness programs at New York University.

“It would be great to continue rigorous research into these exciting programs and challenges,” he said.

Andy Frisella, creator of 75 Hard and motivational speaker, encourages people to speak with a medical professional before starting the program. His team did not respond to a request for comment.

According to Mr. Frisella, who said in a 2022 episode of his podcast After spending 20 years developing 75 Hard, tens of thousands of people have completed the program, which aims to help people develop resilience, determination and perseverance, among other characteristics.

“This is the equivalent of an Iron Man, of climbing Mount Everest,” Frisella said on the podcast. “Whatever it is that you see all these other people doing that they’re so proud of, this is the equivalent of that for your brain.”

People who completed the program said on social media that it helped them improve their confidence, lose weight, try new workouts and stick with what they set out to do. Many complete it in the first 75 days of the year, while others start it every time they need a reset.

The most difficult part of the program varies from person to person. But many have objected to the requirement of two 45-minute workouts a day and to avoiding “cheat meals” (that is, deviating from whatever diet you have chosen) and alcohol for the duration of the program.

Frisella has explained that workouts can be of any level of intensity, even a walk. At least one of the two daily workouts should be done outdoors.

A participant on TikTok was on a walk outside during a snow storm, another completed strength training train in the rainwhile another jumped rope during 45 minutes outside at night. Others varied their indoor workouts by alternating between running, strength training, yoga and more.

By going outdoors, the show reinforces the lesson that “conditions won’t always be perfect,” Frisella said in a 2019 episode of his podcast.

Daily workouts must be spaced at least three or four hours.

Notably, the program lacks built-in rest days.

The program also insists that participants follow a diet (for example, a vegetarian, vegan, or ketogenic diet), but Frisella doesn’t offer much guidance on what that should be, only that people should choose “a diet that improves their health.” your physical health.”

Participants must follow their chosen diet without deviating, or restart the program.

Alcohol is strictly prohibited.

“Something like this could improve someone’s confidence or mental toughness,” said Dr. Kate Gapinski, associate professor of psychology at the University of San Francisco.

“When you see that you are able to complete something so difficult and actually maintain it for 75 days, which is a pretty long time for a significant habit change, I can see that inspiring confidence about other difficult tasks ahead,” he said. .

The program promotes certain behaviors that psychologists encourage their patients to adopt.

Tasks that can be completed quickly (i.e., reading 10 pages of a nonfiction book) are exactly the kind of short tasks that experts say can encourage people trying to implement changes in their lives.

But challenges can arise when tasks are too big or seem unsustainable. “If you do something that requires a lot of energy, motivation and commitment, the problem is that when you don’t achieve it, sometimes people end up feeling demoralized and worse than when they started,” Dr. Gallagher said. .

Some participants take the program very seriously. The program “it’s difficult for a reason”, a poster wrote in the subreddit. “If you don’t like it, go somewhere else or at least don’t get angry when people call you out for your changes to the program.”

But several health experts were concerned about such strict regimens.

The exercise requirements could be concerning for people who are inactive or frail, said Patrick J. O’Connor, a professor of kinesiology at the University of Georgia.

“Ninety minutes a day, that would be excessive for some people and could cause injury to others,” he said. “A lot of times, the biggest risk of injury is if someone goes from too little to a lot.”

O’Connor noted that the program required a total of 630 minutes of exercise each week, or more than four times the amount recommended by federal officialswhich is 150 minutes of “moderate intensity physical activity” and two days of strength training.

There are also concerns about the mental health ramifications of a program without exceptions.

“I wouldn’t recommend the program for people with an active eating disorder,” Dr. Gapinski said. “With eating disorders, we’re really trying to increase comfort about what types of foods are consumed,” he said, adding that treatment emphasizes moderation.

It may be more helpful for people to find small tasks that are meaningful to them rather than choosing a prescriptive schedule, said Dr. Alexandra Gold, a clinical psychologist at Massachusetts General Hospital and Harvard Medical School.

“I think if someone is just prescribed ‘Oh, do these things,’ it doesn’t necessarily originate with that person, and that’s also a big factor in consistency and sustainability,” Dr. Gold said.

Perhaps not surprisingly, several modified versions of the plan have emerged, including the 75 Soft. In that version, the water requirement is lower and only a 45-minute daily workout is required.