The Soft Alternative to TikTok's 75 Hard Challenge

75 soft challenge

Verywell Health / Tara Anand

Key Takeaways

  • 75 Hard is a viral wellness challenge that comes with strict rules to promote “mental toughness.”
  • 75 Soft gained popularity on TikTok as a more accessible version of this challenge.
  • Experts say there are some concerns with both challenges, but the 75 Soft might work for people who need a structured plan and it can be customized to fit individual needs.

The 75 Hard Challenge claims to be the only program that can “permanently change your life” and it builds mental toughness. But sticking with this program can be a real challenge for many.

The hashtag #75hard on TikTok has over 1.2 billion views to date. This challenge comes with five rules that should be followed—without exception—for 75 days:

  • Follow a diet and don’t drink alcohol
  • Exercise for 45 minutes a day, twice a day, with at least one workout outside
  • Drink 1 gallon of water per day
  • Read 10 pages of inspirational non-fiction each day
  • Take a photo of yourself every day

Cheat days or rest days are not allowed, and missing a day means you have to restart from day one. There are no guidelines on what type of eating pattern or diet to follow.

Emily Macek, 25, a category analyst in New York, first tried the 75 Hard Challenge as a way to manage her personal health. She appreciated the routine and the reading component, but she only completed about 30 days of the challenge.

“I just don’t think the 75 Hard is sustainable,” Macek told Verywell. “No one is able to complete two 45-minute workouts every day and never miss one.”

Current guidelines recommend that U.S. adults need between 150–300 minutes of exercise each week. 75 Hard recommends 630 minutes per week.

Many health experts see 75 Hard’s exercise requirements as a red flag. Cara Harbstreet, MS, RD, LD, a registered dietitian and founder of Street Smart Nutrition, said these requirements don’t factor in rest days, injuries, or the resources it takes to fit in two 45 minutes workout sessions every day.

“While 75 Hard is intended to be difficult, there is little value for long-term health and happiness to white-knuckle your way through a challenge like this if those actions aren’t something you can sustain afterward,” Harbstreet told Verywell via an email.

The Alternative 75 Soft Challenge

Fitness influencer Stephen Gallagher came up with a TikTok version of the 75 Soft Challenge that appealed to those who found 75 Hard too restrictive.

The 75 Soft Challenge has four rules, which are to be followed for 75 days as well:

  • Eat well and only drink on social occasions
  • Train for 45 minutes per day and include one day of active recovery per week
  • Drink 3 liters of water per day
  • Read 10 pages of any book each day

Patricia Kolesa, MS, RDN, a clinical dietitian at Hackensack Meridian Health in New Jersey, said she wouldn’t necessarily recommend either version of the 75 Challenge, although the 75 Soft is more flexible.

“I think it can definitely help people start creating healthy habits, if they’re in the right mindset for it,” Kolesa said, adding that she has seen people only incorporating one or two rules into their routine.

What to Consider Before Starting the 75 Soft Challenge

The 75 Soft Challenge may not be right for people who have specific dietary needs, such as athletes and people with a history of disordered eating, according to Kolesa. But it may encourage certain healthy behaviors, like hydrating and staying physically active, especially for those who need a structured plan to achieve their health goals.

While 75 Soft does have a structure, it’s also intentionally flexible when it comes to nutrition advice. But dietitians like Kolesa and Harbstreet are concerned by the vague recommendation to “eat well.”

“This ranks right up there alongside ‘clean’ and ‘natural’ as one of my least favorite food phrases,” Harbstreet said.

“Eating well” can mean different things to different people, she added, and it can imply a sense of “moral goodness” around certain foods. “Who determines what ‘eating well’ looks like?” Harbstreet said.

She suggested that anyone interested in starting 75 Soft should reflect on what they want out of it first. Even though the challenge has certain sets of rules, it can still be modified to fit individual needs.

“For example, if you need an entire day off from planned activity, or multiple days for active recovery, build that in,” she said.

What This Means For You

75 Soft may help you get in the habit of drinking water, but experts say that 3 liters a day is an arbitrary recommendation. Hydration needs are based on a variety of factors including the environment, your activity level, age, and sex.

1 Source
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  1. Department of Health and Human Services. Physical activity guidelines for Americans, 2nd edition.