Is the 75 Soft Challenge the Gentle Reset You're Looking For?

The 75 Hard challenge took social media by storm in 2021. From TikTok creators to Instagram influencers, many people followed this tough challenge that was said to help you "take complete control of your life." The challenge, which lasts for 75 days, is a mental and physical feat created by Andy Frisella from the "Real AF" podcast.

Then, in contrast to the extreme nature of 75 Hard, TikTok creator Stephen Gallagher (@stephengfitness) inspired a new take on the challenge called 75 Soft. He posted a video in April 2021 about his new version of the challenge, and it's since garnered a ton of popularity on the app; videos tagged with the hashtag #75soft have amassed more than 130 million views.

What's the difference between 75 Hard and 75 Soft? Instead of the six rules included in the original 75 Hard challenge (which are designed to push you outside of your comfort zone), the four rules of 75 Soft are much more realistic, and a whole lot more chill. Because of that, 75 Soft can be a great way to recenter and focus on your well-being and health goals whenever you're feeling the urge to "reset."

Sound more up your alley than 75 Hard? Keep reading to learn about the rules of 75 Soft (including how they compare to the rules for 75 Hard), what an expert thinks about it, and how you can try 75 Soft for yourself.

What Are the Differences Between 75 Hard and 75 Soft?

The main difference between these two challenges is that the steps included in 75 Soft are far more relaxed — and they don't include an emphasis on how your body will look at the end of the 75 days. Although Frisella advertises 75 Hard first and foremast as a "mental toughness" challenge, the rules do end up placing an emphasis on changing your body. Here are the main differences between 75 Hard and 75 Soft.

75 Hard Rules

75 Hard includes six rules, and each is quite specific in how it will challenge you over the coming weeks. The goal is to follow these rules daily for 75 days straight. If you break any of the rules or fail to do one item in a given day, you need to start back at Day 1.

  • Follow a diet, any diet: The diet can be anything you choose, whether it's Whole30, vegetarian, plant-based, pescatarian, gluten-free, Paleo, etc.
  • No alcohol, and no cheat meals: What's considered a cheat meal will depend on exactly which diet you choose, but no one on the challenge is allowed to consume alcohol.
  • Two 45-minute workouts per day; one has to be outside: There are no specifics about the workouts, how intense they need to be, or the type; however, the outdoor workout has to happen no matter the weather.
  • Take a progress picture every day: Taking daily photos is supposed to help you document your journey and physical progress.
  • Drink one gallon of water per day: This is designed to keep you hydrated but also to teach you that sometimes, the simplest tasks can be the hardest to do.
  • Read 10 pages of a book: This has to be a nonfiction book, and audiobooks "don't count."

75 Soft Rules

In comparison, 75 Soft is far less detailed but still provides a framework for some healthy changes you can make in your life over a 75-day period. The 75 Soft rules are as follows:

  • Eat well, and only drink on social occasions: It's up to you to decide what those occasions are and what "eating well" looks like for you.
  • Train 45 minutes a day, taking one day off per week for active recovery: Your workouts can be whatever you'd like, but the 75 Soft challenge builds in an active recovery day once per week. For active recovery, you could stretch, do yoga, take a walk, or foam roll, for example.
  • Drink one gallon of water per day: This is the one rule that's the same as in the 75 Hard challenge.
  • Read 10 pages of any book every day: Nonfiction, audiobooks, fiction — anything goes.

In all, the 75 Soft challenge is more flexible and takes life into consideration, which makes it more accessible for more people. It's not always possible to achieve two separate 45-minute workouts per day, but one is far more doable. 75 Soft also encourages you to eat well and try to leave drinking alcohol for social occasions but offers room for you to interpret those rules in a way that works for you.

75 Hard fosters a restrictive mentality, which can often backfire in terms of promoting healthful habits. It also asks you to take progress photos every day. This behavior alone can be triggering for many people with a history of eating disorders or disordered eating and exacerbates the belief that how you look is an indication of your health.

For these reasons, many experts, including Rick Richey, NASM Master Instructor and certified personal trainer, prefer the 75 Soft challenge. If you're keen on taking the 75 Hard challenge, go forth. But if that feels far too restrictive for you — yet you'd still like to focus on your health in other ways — consider giving 75 Soft a go. It might help to have a gentle framework around your health goals to spur you on.

Should You Try the 75 Soft Challenge?

Overall, Richey thinks trying the 75 Soft challenge is a better idea than 75 Hard — though there are still some risks to keep in mind. "This challenge is far more reasonable than 75 Hard and may be possible for more people, but it's still not for everyone," he says. "Six days per week of working out can be a lot if you haven't built up to it."

Keep that in mind if you are a beginner or haven't worked out regularly in a while. One solution can be to vary your workouts, alternating higher-intensity workouts with lower-intensity, low-impact workouts such as Pilates, barre, yoga, or walking. (You can use an RPE scale to help figure out how intense a workout is for you personally, and aim for no more than two or three vigorous workouts per week.)

And remember why you're doing 75 Soft in the first place. "The challenge is to push you mentally and physically. Just don't be afraid to bail on the challenge if your body isn't up for it," Richey says. "It's better to cancel the challenge and take a break than it is to push through pain until you break."

Richey also wants you to keep in mind that "lifestyle changes are not made with a 75-day challenge" but by taking small, actionable steps that you can sustain over the long term. Still, some people "may benefit from the discipline and the idea of a challenge," he says. And if that's you, it's OK to try 75 Soft or 75 Hard. "If you're a regular exerciser that spends time working out, running, performing athletics, and more, these challenges may be fun, challenging, and in line with your capabilities," Richey says. "Go for it!"

Make sure to consult your doctor before making any major changes to your lifestyle.

— Additional reporting by Lauren Mazzo