75 Soft Challenge: What It Is and What to Know Before Getting Started

woman looking in mirror in exercise clothing
Experts deem the 75 Soft challenge as a realistic, doable approach to diet and fitness behavior change.Antonio Diaz/iStock

If you’re looking for a plan to improve your overall health and fitness, but one without rigid diet rules and promise-to-leave-you-sore workouts, “75 Soft” may be for you.

“It’s like 75 Hard, but for people who don’t have the time for two 45-minute workouts a day,” Ireland based fitness influencer Stephen Gallagher (@stephengfitness) says in a 2021 video viewed over 2.5 million times.

The 75 Hard program?launched in 2019. It was designed by supplement company owner Adam Frisella as a free, motivational program challenging members to embark on a seriously hard and rigorous health challenge for 75 days.

Social media users shared impressive weight loss and fitness success stories and the hashtag #75hard?has amassed a whopping 2.5 billion views.

75 Soft (also referred to as the “75 Soft Challenge”) is the appropriately named, less “hard” version.

Kim and Kalee Sorey, Nashville, Tennessee–based mother and daughter lifestyle influencers, launched their own version of 75 Soft challenge in a blog post in September 2021. They marketed their “softer” approach to 75 Hard with fun and motivating products, like 75 Soft journals, meal plans, and weekly and daily trackers, which are all available on their website.

The hashtag #75soft is quickly catching up over 244 million views with single videos amassing millions of views. On March 23, Grace Kasule (@gracekasule) shared a video of her results after doing the challenge, claiming to have lost 30 pounds during the 75-day period. The clip has been viewed 6.1 million times.

What Is 75 Soft?

Elizabeth Gardner, MD, associate professor of orthopaedic surgery and sports medicine at Yale School of Medicine and head team physician for Yale Athletics in New Haven, Connecticut, calls the 75 Soft a “gentler alternative” to the 75 Hard program with some similarities.

“Both are 75-day daily routines aimed to help you build healthy lifestyle habits,” she says.

The rules of the 75 Hard, laid out in a newsletter you receive after subscribing to the program, include following a “a structured plan designed with a physical improvement in mind,” per Frisella’s instructions. This plan requires you to complete two 45-minute workouts, take no cheat days, consume no alcohol, drink a gallon of water per day, read 10 pages of a book, and take progress photos daily.

RELATED: Are You Exercising Too Much? Here’s How to Tell (and Why It Can Be Risky)

“The 75 Soft Challenge is less extreme and involves less restrictive behaviors, which has been a criticism of the 75 Hard Challenge,” Dr. Gardner continues. “While considerably more realistic for most people, 75 Soft is still not easy,” she notes.

Gallagher outlines the “rules” of the 75 Soft in his viral TikTok:

  1. Eat well and only drink on social occasions.
  2. Train for 45 minutes every day, 75 days without a day off, and one day for active recovery every week.
  3. Drink three liters of water a day.
  4. Read 10 pages of any book.

The Soreys’ rules for 75 soft differ slightly. They are:

  1. Choose foods that fuel your body properly 90 percent of the time.
  2. Workout four times a week for at least a half hour.
  3. Take a picture on day 1 and day 75 of the challenge.
  4. Drink half your body weight in ounces of water per day.
  5. Pray or meditate at least five minutes a day.
  6. Read or listen to 10 minutes of personal development a day.

The challenge (either version) is also less “punishing” in nature, adds Gardner. “If you miss one of these steps, unlike the 75 Hard Challenge, you are not penalized and do not need to start the whole 75 days over again,” explains Gardner, adding that instead, individuals are expected to hold themselves accountable, but in a nonpunishing manner.

What a Dietitian and Personal Trainers Think of 75 Soft

Jenna Willis, an International Sports Sciences Association (ISSA)–certified personal trainer based out of Los Angeles, is a fan of the challenge. “The 75 Soft challenge is an incredible approach to boosting fitness and well-being and is a sustainable approach to leading a healthy lifestyle,” she says.

If someone follows the 75 Soft challenge for the full 75 days, they should expect to gain muscle tone and strength — and, very likely, shed some pounds, she says. Of course, those results will depend on the workouts you choose for the training portion.

And compared with the 75 Hard program, there’s a lower risk of injury if you’re new or returning to exercise, Willis adds. And, it's a more approachable plan for those leading a busy lifestyle because there is lots of room for customization, she says.

“The 75 Soft challenge supports nutritious food choices, a recovery workout, hydration, and reading, all on levels that are obtainable and not a huge life overhaul,” she adds.

RELATED: Post-Workout Muscle Recovery: How to Let Your Muscles Heal and Why

Possibly the only concern, according to Gardner, is that the exercise rule may be overwhelming for some people who aren’t used to working out daily. She adds, however, that the rules let the individual pick the workout of their choosing, so someone new or returning to exercise could tailor their routine to not be too intense and include enough variety.

“To me this is important, because to perform the same exercise (running, for example) every day does risk overuse or stress injury,” she says.

Orlando-based dietitian and ACSM-certified personal trainer Tara Collingwood, RDN, who is also a certified specialist in sports dietetics (CSSD), credits the plan for addressing both physical and emotional health in ways that are doable and sustainable. “Nothing they are asking is unrealistic,” says Collingwood, who specializes in working with clients on sustainable weight loss.

Who Should Try (and Avoid) 75 Soft?

All three experts agree that (almost) anyone is a good candidate for the challenge.

“75 Soft can be a great challenge for anyone looking to kick-start a well-rounded, healthy routine,” says Gardner. “Because it does not prescribe any specific diet or exercise, it really can be tailored to be appropriate for most people.”

Willis adds that it is especially beneficial for someone who wants to make gradual, sustainable changes to their lifestyle.

However, those who have medical or physical conditions that limit their ability to perform exercise (such as those with heart or lung conditions) or consume high volumes of water (such as those with certain heart or kidney issues) should not follow 75 Soft rules if they conflict with medical advice from their physician, note Gardner.

And for anyone who has not regularly exercised, Gardner always recommends speaking with your physician first. She also recommends that those new to exercise gradually increase the impact and intensity of their workouts to avoid potential injury.

One rule of thumb is the 10 percent rule, which for aerobic exercise means increasing the frequency, intensity, or volume of your workout by no more than 10 percent each week.

?For strength training, you can add repetitions of the exercises you’re doing, add sets, or add weight after a week.

RELATED:?How to Get Started With Resistance Band Workouts: An Absolute Beginner’s Guide

But, Collingwood says, a big plus side to this program is that it’s modifiable for your fitness level. If, for instance, you’re new to exercise you can start with no weights, while an experienced gym-goer can continue doing their HIIT workouts, Pilates, or yoga. You can also tailor the eating plan to account for dietary restrictions or allergies, food preferences, and different eating schedules.

That leeway, however, could be a downside for some. You’re responsible for defining what “eating well” means. “If you’re someone who struggles with portion control or timing of meals and snacks or does better with structured nutrition advice, you may want to seek that out to incorporate as part of the plan,” suggests Collingwood. Speak to a registered dietitian-nutritionist to learn how to eat right to meet your goals.

Summary

If you are looking for a gentle, yet effective challenge, the 75 Soft may provide the rubric you need to achieve your goals.

The plan is ideal for someone who wants to add some structure to their diet and fitness routine for consistency, but doesn’t want rigid rules they need to adhere to, Willis says.

Editorial Sources and Fact-Checking

Everyday Health follows strict sourcing guidelines to ensure the accuracy of its content, outlined in our editorial policy. We use only trustworthy sources, including peer-reviewed studies, board-certified medical experts, patients with lived experience, and information from top institutions.

Sources

  1. Total Force Wellness Column: Guidelines to Progress Your Physical Training Over Time. U.S. Coast Guard. January 28, 2022.
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