Fitness Tips

75 Soft Challenge: 75 Hard’s More Reasonable, Less Injury-Inducing Alternative

A few months ago, I came across a hardcore daily routine on TikTok called the 75 Hard Challenge. Reading through the rules, I immediately thought, “no freaking way!” And I’m not the kind of woman who runs from a fitness challenge. (Trust me, I’ve finished Jillian Michaels’s 90-day Body Revolution program!) But the reality is that working out every day for 1.5 isn’t just potentially dangerous; it’s not even a great fitness strategy. So it was a hard pass for me until I recently came across a new trend detailing a more sane, soft version: The 75 Soft Challenge.

75 Soft Challenge - close up of a woman doing pushups

If you’re looking to fast-track your fitness journey without overdoing it, 75 Soft could be your ticket. Here we’ll look into how it differs from 75 Hard, what the rules are, and how to adapt them into your daily routine!

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What is the 75 Soft Challenge?

It all started with the 75 Hard Challenge, which was initiated by entrepreneur Andy Frisella. The goal of the challenge is to develop discipline and mental strength over the course of 75 days. It garnered a lot of attention on TikTok as an effective weight to lose weight and get ripped.

The 75 Soft Challenge is an offshoot of 75 hard, with easier (aka more sane) rules that makes it more accessible for the average person.

75 Soft vs. 75 Hard

The truth is, 75 soft is still pretty intense. However, you’ll appreciate how much more reasonable it is compared to 75 Hard.

75 Hard Challenge Rules

Here are the rules for the hard version, which lasts 75 days:

  1. Choose a diet and stick to it religiously (no cheat days, no alcohol)
  2. Two 45-minute workouts PER DAY – one of which must be outdoors (regardless of whether or not you live in the Canadian tundra)
  3. Down 4.5 litres of water every day
  4. Snap a daily progress pic
  5. Read ten pages of a non-fiction book every day, preferably inspirational non-fiction or personal development oriented

More than a little intense, right?

75 Soft Challenge Rules

Meanwhile, the 75 Soft Challenge has only four rules:

  1. Make a concentrated effort to eat well, drinking alcohol only on social occassions
  2. Workout for 45 minutes every day, with an active recovery day every 7th day
  3. Drink three litres of water each day
  4. Read ten pages of a book every day (non-fiction or fiction)

Why You Should Consider the More Accessible Alternative

I get the allure of making extreme lifestyle changes in the name of self-improvement and physical health. Years ago, when I’d gained more than 20 lbs from my sedentary office job, I would dive head first into insane fitness programs like 75 Hard because I was desperate for results.

But it always resulted in disaster. Always.

As someone who has been there and done that, here is why I encourage you to try the 75 Soft Challenge instead:

75 Hard is Potentially Dangerous

The reality is that the 75 Hard Challenge is not a great idea for the average person at a previously low activity level. So, unless you are already highly athletic, 1.5 hours of exercise per day is asking for trouble.

Exercising too much can result in some pretty gnarly injuries. It brings to mind the time I decided to work out for a month every single day, and one day I pulled a muscle in my neck so badly that the pain radiated down my arm to my fingers. The pain was so bad taht I had to go on muscle relaxants and heavy painkillers.

I was out of commission for almost two months.

It’s Better for Your Mental Health and Motivation Levels

When you take on a challenge like 75 Hard after being mostly sedentary, chances are extremely high that you will not make it through the first two weeks, let alone 75 days.

As we just discussed, the workout portion alone has a high potential for injury, which could put you out of commission long before 75 days is up. Depending on your chosen diet, you can also be setting yourself up for failure – many diets restrict entire food groups, making them very hard to stick to.

The 75 Hard Challenge encourages perfection, which is the antithesis of sustainable, healthier living.

Everyone has off days. The first time you inevitably miss an exercise session, injure yourself, have a slice of pizza for dinner, or make any other unhealthy decisions, you’ll feel like you’ve failed the challenge. And that perspective that you’ve “fallen off the wagon” can damage your motivation and maybe cause you to give up altogether.

Meanwhile, the 75 Soft Challenge involves far less restrictions, making allowances for a modest amount of alcohol on social occasions (like Thanksgiving dinner) and a chance to rest your body through recovery days. The focus is on eating healthy, wholesome foods that support your health, not sticking to an impossibly strict diet.

75 Soft is Still a Challenging and Effective Alternative

Listen, working out for 45 minutes six days a is no joke. If you want to feel challenged, this will still do it for you.

And it is plenty for getting in shape. In fact, 45 minutes per day is still overkill for weight loss and muscle growth; I have gotten into pretty sick shape just by doing 20-30 minutes, five days per week.

It Incorporates Active Rest

This is one of the most critical differences between 75 Soft and the 75 Hard Challenge. Active rest is so important because it gives your body a chance to repair the damage from working out, reducing the risk of injury.

What most people don’t realize is that working out isn’t the moment when your muscles build themselves. It’s when you rest that they repair and grow!

Working out 90 minutes every day could hinder your progress because you need to give your body more time to recharge.

You’re Still Establishing Healthy Habits

Complete the 75 Soft Challenge successfully, and you will have built some seriously healthy habits that are sure to stick.

You’ll be in the habit of working out regularly, and you’ll have found a workout routine you enjoy and can see yourself doing long-term. You’ll also have established some healthy eating habits, like cooking more meals at home, and you’ll have gotten into the habit of packing your lunch instead of buying it.

You’re Still Building Mental Toughness

The 75 Soft Challenge will still push you out of your comfort zone. It’s going to take a lot of work, especially at first.

But as you push through the tough days and weeks, you’ll start to build mental strength. As a result, you’ll become more resilient and find you’re better able to handle challenges in all areas of your life.

Tips for Completing the 75 Soft Challenge

So, we’ve established that the 75 Soft Challenge is a better option than 75 Hard – but what’s the best way to approach it to ensure your chances for success? Here I’ll break down each aspect of the challenge and give you some tips to make it easier.

Choose the Right Fitness Program

The workout program you choose will drastically affect the outcome of the 75 soft challenge. You want to choose something that will challenge your body but still be achievable.

Since you need to get in a daily workout, your best bet is to go with a home-based program that requires minimal equipment. This eliminates the complication of having to get to a gym and is still plenty effective.

The best way to go with home fitness is with fitness apps. Choose a strength-building program for the best results. The FitBod app is an excellent option because you can set the duration of your workouts, and you get a freshly generated workout every day based on which muscles you want to target and which are most rested.

Stick with a Sensible Diet Plan

closeup of woman doing pushups - 75 soft challenge - is it an effective way to get fit

Now is not the time to try a super strict diet, i.e., eliminating carbs. It is entirely possible to clean up your diet without doing anything extreme. Get a food tracking app like Cronometer to log your meals and keep tabs on your calories and macros.

Make simple but effective swaps, like water or sparkling water instead of soda, and a few squares of dark chocolate for dessert instead of a slice of pie. Also, make a point of getting a serving of fruits or veggies at each meal and stay within your daily calorie budget.

Lastly, include a hefty serving of protein with each meal; lean chicken, fish, Greek yogurt, legumes, and eggs are all fantastic choices.

I repeat: there’s no need to go nuts here. If weight loss is your goal, eating at a small calorie deficit of 250-500 calories daily and focusing on mostly whole foods will get you there.

As far as water intake goes, keep a reusable water bottle with you at all times; having it there is usually enough to remind you to drink. However, if you keep forgetting or are having trouble filling the 3-litre quota, consider investing in a Hidrate smart water bottle that helps track your intake and reminds you to drink.

Go with Light Yoga or Walking for Active Recovery Days

Most people view active recovery days as a free pass to do nothing. They think they can lounge around all day since they’re not working out. This is a mistake!

Recovery days are still considered part of the challenge, and you should be doing something active on those days. The best options are light yoga, walking, or a combination of both.

Yoga is a great way to stretch your muscles, improve flexibility, and calm your mind. Meanwhile, walking is also great for improving mobility, getting some fresh air, and clearing your head.

Boost Your Results with Intermittent Fasting (Optional)

Intermittent fasting, or IF, is a fantastic way to expedite your results, but it’s not required. However, research shows that IF can both assist with weight loss and improve longevity!

IF means you only eat during a specified window during the day. There are all kinds of IF protocols out there, but the most common ones include circadian rhythm and 16:8 protocols.

That would mean having a fasting window between 13 and 16 hours daily. For example, I usually finish dinner at 7 p.m. and then don’t eat again until 8:30-9 a.m.

If you’re new to IF, start with shorter fasts and gradually work your way up to at least 13 hours to get the benefits of gut rest.

Modify the 75 Soft Challenge Rules as Needed

Remember what I said earlier about how perfection is the antithesis of healthy living and progress? It’s important to remember that you don’t have to do everything “by the book.” Everyone’s self-improvement journey is different; what works for one person might not work for you.

The goal of completing the 75 Soft Challenge is to stop making unhealthy decisions, create healthy habits, and move your body every day. As long as you achieve those goals, complete the challenge however you see fit! For example, if exercising six days a week is too intense for you – you can decide to do five days and one day of complete rest. (Personally, I think this is actually better than exercising six days a week.)

I promise you; The Challenge Police won’t bash down your door if you change the rules to suit you better. So do what is healthy and achievable for you!

Read Something You Enjoy

If you’re not much of a reader, there’s no shame in choosing a light read. Look up “beach reads” to find enjoyable books you won’t want to put down! However, if you are up for reading personal development books, here are a few recommendations.

  • You are a Badass by Jen Cincero
  • The Motivation Myth by Jeff Haden
  • Atomic Habits by James Clear

Final Thoughts on the 75 Soft Challenge

The idea behind the 75 Soft Challenge is to introduce daily exercise and create a routine conducive to a better life. Not only is it more achievable and accessible than the original 75 Hard Challenge, but it’s safer and more likely to establish lasting habits.

If you’re feeling motivated to start your own 75 Soft Challenge, remember to focus on consistency over perfection. And don’t forget to have fun!

FAQ

What is the 75 Soft Challenge?

The 75 Soft Challenge is an offshoot of the 75 Hard Challenge, which is designed to build mental strength and discipline while getting fit. Every day for 75 days you are to exercise for 45 minutes (with every 7th day being an active recovery day), drink 3 liters of water, eat healthily except for social occasions, and read 10 pages of a book.

Who is this challenge for?

The challenge is for people who want to get in shape, improve their discipline, and establish healthy habits.

How long does the challenge last?

The challenge lasts for 75 days.

What do I need to complete the challenge?

You will need a fitness plan, a diet plan, lots of water, and a good book!

Can I modify the rules to suit me better?

Your body, your rules! Yes, you can modify the rules to better suit your needs and goals. Just remember to focus on consistency over perfection.

Corrie Alexander is a former ISSA-certified personal trainer, home fitness advocate, and founder of The Fit Careerist. A proponent of personal growth and a self-proclaimed fitness app-junkie, Corrie shares tips and product reviews with the goal of helping others on their own fitness journey.

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