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Setting up the 75 Challenge. The Plan and the Process. How to complete the 75 Hard Challenge!

Today is an exciting day. I begin my 75 Hard Challenge. Part of the excitement of the challenge is the planning and designing of the way "I" am going to perform the challenge. What I really like about this challenge is that it gives you some latitude in a few key areas. I like that I get to choose what books to read. I like that I get to determine a nutrition plan that will get me results all while allowing me freedom to design it to my likes and wants. I like that I get to choose when I workout and what my workouts consist of, Weights, Cardio, CrossFit, HITT. I get to choose. What I have found in the past with other programs was they were rigid to the point that I was simply following a program without much consideration for how I was going to achieve my specific goals. It did not allow me to grow by me having to create workout plans, without me designing how I wanted to eat, without me getting to choose the topics of study for my personal and professional growth. The 75 Hard Challenge allows for all of the growth, the creativity and the ownership of success that I crave.

I have been planning my 75 Hard Challenge criteria since March 1. I had completed the challenge back in 2021 and had pretty fantastic results in many areas so I had a pretty good idea on what I needed to do to get results again. But this time, I wanted to make a few changes to allow me to really become committed for the long term, not just for 75 days.

As I planned this program for myself, I realized that I wanted to share what I was doing on a daily basis with others who might find what I am offering helpful and inspiring to them, giving them ideas on what they can do, encouraging them to commit to a better version of themselves. So here we are, ready to start the 75 Hard Challenge. Let's look at my plan, my objectives and goals and how I am going to complete the challenge.

Let's review the rules of 75 Hard first:

  • Drink 1 Standard Gallon of Water

  • Perform Two Daily Workouts of 45 Min, One needs to be done outside

  • Read at least 10 pages in a Self Development/Entrepreneurial book (audio doesn't count)

  • Follow a Diet. Any diet and no Alcohol (no cheating, stick to your nutrition plan)

  • Take a Daily Progress Picture.

If you read my last post, I added 2 other things to my 75 Hard Challenge. Not a part of the challenge, but I added for the mental and health benefits:

  • 3 Min Ice bath/Cold Plunge or 3 min cold shower (winter time only, tap temp in low 40 degrees) first thing in the morning)

  • 4 Rounds of Wim Hof Breath Work before I get out of bed.

Let's go through the list and what I am going to do to meet the requirements.

1. Drink one gallon of water. I am 200 pounds (close - starting at 195) so drinking a gallon of water a day won't put too much of a strain on my body. Always consult a physician if you have any medical conditions before making a drastic change in your water consumption. I mentioned in a pervious blog that you may want to take some electrolytes if you drink a gallon of water a day. Your body will not stay hydrated if you are low in sodium and/or potassium. I will track my water intake on a nutrition app called Carb Manager that has a section specifically for water intake. This rule should be easy to follow.

2. Perform two workouts per day. 45 minutes each with one of them being done outside. I have a pretty extensive home gym but my gym happens to take up my entire 3rd car garage so it not inside the house. In the winter and early spring, it get's pretty cold in there. I perform my first workout of the day in my home gym and it is weight training based. Typical resistance training with a split of Push, Pull, Leg days repeated Monday through Saturday. I open the garage door, rain or even snow. I count this as an outside workout. Some might argue that it doesn't qualify but I disagree. I have worked out in nice climate controlled gyms and it doesn't compare to the 35 to 40 degree temperature of my gym. Nor does it compare to the 85 to 90 degree summer day workouts either. Again, this is my 75 Hard Challenge and I am completing a 1 hour to an 1 hour and 20 min workout every morning 6 days a week in my garage.

My second workout will be done in the afternoon most days. My goal is to burn between 400 and 600 calories per workout per day. Until starting this challenge, I have not done a second workout per day since doing the challenge back in 2021 and have only focused on weight training for the last few years. It will good to go running again and feel the burn in my lungs as I push myself.

Each day, I will specifically tell you what exercises I did in both workouts, the duration and how many calories I burned. I will map out reps, sets and exercises along with approximate rest intervals. I may include weights used, however some weight machines vary greatly in what something actually weighs compared to a free weight. I have two different cable/pully systems and the weight on one of them is 1/2 the weight on the other. At the end of the day, I guess it does not matter the amount of weight but the execution of the exercise to Momentary Muscular Failure which is my goal on all working sets. I don't always make it on sets one or two but I always do on my final set. Again, this is about accountability to myself and to you for taking the time to read this and hopefully get inspired and take action.

3. Read a minimum of 10 pages in a self development or entrepreneur themed book. I am primarily going to focus on personal development. The first book I am reading is called The Compound Effect by Darren Hardy. Darren is owner and editor of Success Magazine. In my daily blog and email, I will go into what I learned and how to apply the lesson to your life. Really, this is where intellectual meets discipline and dedication from the rest of the program and where application of what is being learned in those pages takes shape and literally transforms your life. Imagine if you applied everything you learned to be successful with the same dedication, the same enthusiasm you apply to the other 4 rules in the 75 Hard? How would your life, your success, your relationships, your self-belief improve? Make sure if you decide to do the 75 Hard, that you take this rule, this goal, this lifestyle and make it a permanent part of who you are!

4. Follow a diet, any diet. This is were there is a lot a grey area. What one person considers as a diet may not be what someone else considers as a diet. My thoughts are to create a program that improves health, allows you to build or maintain muscle and allows you to decrease body fat percentage. Diets and nutrition plans vary greatly; there is keto, there is paleo, there is intermittent fasting. There is macro counting, calorie counting, carb cycling and on and on. If you have been over indulging in unhealthy foods, beverages and alcohol, any improvement would be a "diet" plan and lead to better health. That being said, I am going to follow a carb cycling program I have used in the past to take my body fat percent from 13% down to 5% and even 3% in 2018 when I competed in a Natural Men's Physique contest. I will now outline the carb cycle plan I will use.

The plan calls for 3 low carb days followed by 2 high carb days which then repeats. The low days allow the body to tap into stored body fat at an accelerated rate while the high days allow the body to replace glycogen stores in the muscle tissues allowing you to continue to train at a higher intensity thus leading to increase fat metabolism when returning to 3 low carb days again. This process is the best at sparing muscle tissue all while leaning out quickly. Below is my exact calculation.

Based on Lean Body Mass (provided by the InBody 570 here at Max Muscle) I use an equation to calculate my protein, carbohydrate and fat needs. My Lean Body Mass, weight less any body fat, is currently 174.2 LBS.

Here is the calculation for High Carb days: Here is the calculation for Low Carb Days:

174.2 X 1.5 = 258 Carbohydrates 174.2 X .75 = 129 Carbohydrates

174.2 X 1.5 = 258 Proteins 174.2 X 1.5 = 258 Proteins

174.2 X .45 = 77 Fats 174.2 X .45 = 77 Fats

Total Calories for High Days 2761 Total Calories for Low Days 2245

Due to the level of intensity of my workouts and the total exercise calories burned per day, I may need to adjust my carbs and fat grams based on the results I am seeing each week. My total calorie expenditure with 2 workouts per day is currently exceeding 4000 calories so you can see that even on my high carb days, I am still at a deficit so even though I am consuming higher carbs, they will not spill over into fat stores. They will refuel my muscles. Should I lose muscle or begin to lose fat too quickly, I will increase my carbs and fat grams. My protein is pretty set and I will not add additional protein should I need to increase my calories.

The high carb days I allow for more what you might call less healthy carb choices. I even eat some less health choices on my low carb days as I am still at a deficit and releasing fat stores. Don't be surprised if you see some questionable items such as a few potato chips, 2 slices of pizza and even a small amount of ice cream showing up in my daily food log. Once you understand the process of carb cycling and how the body responds to carbs after a few low days, you will understand that the muscles will utilize the glucose from the carbs very effectively. You will not get fat as long as you are in a caloric deficit. I will be tracking my food in the Carb Manager app. My primary goal is to be within 200 of my calorie goal and as close to my Protein gram requirement each day. Protein is the key macronutrient for muscle gain and maintenance. As you can see, I am at a sufficient deficit to lose even if I go over on my calories. My goal is to keep or gain muscle all while losing fat, not weight.

5. Take daily progress photos. This I will do at the same time every morning. Pretty simple, I take a photo from the front. Nothing too complicated here. The last time I did the 75 hard, this was perhaps the most frustrating step. You literally cannot see the changes from one day to the next but believe me, they are happening. It is just frustrating when you worked so hard and don't see anything showing up as quickly as you want. At the same time, it is very satisfying when you see the difference after 1 week, 2 weeks and so on. I will include weekly updates on my body composition as well using the Inbody 570 print out results sheet as well has body fat caliper measurements as well. I will track fat gained or lost, muscle gained or lost and weight gained or lost. My goal for the end of the program is to be at 4% body fat while maintaining my Muscle Mass at 100 LBS. I would love to increase my muscle to 102 or even 105, but at a calorie deficit, it will be difficult. I am excited to commit to these goals and to share how I achieved them.

Now the I have covered the 5 Rules of the 75 Hard Challenge, I will briefly go over my 2 additional daily goals. Wim Hof Breath Work and Cold Exposer.

6. Wim Hof Breath Work. I am no stranger to Wim Hof or his breath work. I have read his book, The Wim Hof Method and have been practicing his breath work model for over 3 years. When I began back in October of 2020, I was able to hold my breath for approximately 90 seconds. To me this was an amazing feat as I had not been able to hold my breath more than a minute since I was a teenager. After only 1 month of practicing Wim's breathing technique I was hitting a 90 second breath hold consistently and 120 occasionally. The idea behind the breath hold is the create what is called Hormetic stress. Hormetic stress is the process by which all improvement physiologically is created. When you do resistance training, you are pushing your body just enough stress to cause an adaptation to be equal to the stress. This process is how our muscles grow and get stronger. This process is how our cardiovascular health improves when we run or do other activities that tax our body's ability to exchange carbon dioxide, CO2, for oxygen in our blood when we push ourselves.

Doing Wim Hof's breath work allows for the body to release endorphins which are the feel good neuropeptides in the brain and nervous system. The breath work has also been utilized in many scientific studies to see what other health benefits it can produces. It has been shown in increase the immune system's ability to fight off illnesses as well as improve symptoms of many other health issues including autoimmune diseases.

Fast forward to 2024 and now I can do breath holds of 4, 5 and even 6 minutes. I enjoy the process and it allows me to accept stressors in a more totable way without my body responding and going into fight or flight. I now am able to see through difficulties with a clear mind which allows me to come up with solutions I could not have in the past. I felt that the continuation of this process or the implementation of it for those who currently do not practice any kind of breathwork would be a very powerful tool in designing the life you want.

7. Cold Exposer. When I say cold exposer I mean going into water that is no more than 58 degrees. The physiological benefits of cold exposer benefits can be felt at slightly higher temperatures but requires longer durations to achieve the benefits. In the winter, the tap water, here in norther Utah, is approximately 42 degrees. So cold showers work really well from November through early March. As outside temperatures increase, the tap water begins to raise. Once the water gets beyond 58 degrees switching to a cold plunge is the best option. I have a deep freezer I converted to a cold plunge in 2021. I have used it during the summers but have slacked off a bit recently and want to get back into the routine so I added it to my list of daily tasks.

The benefits of cold exposure are many and I would refer you to view Wim Hof on YouTube or Dr Andrew Huberman of YouTube as well to see all of the benefits behind cold exposure. One thing I will mention is that daily exposure to cold has been show to increase the amount of brown fat we have. Brown fat burns calories to keep the body warm much like muscles do when we shiver. By increasing your brown fat, you also increase your basal metabolic rate and thus can and will lose fat faster.

My daily task is to get into either a cold shower or cold plunge first thing in the morning when I get out of bed. I started this today and felt amazing afterward and still feel great while writing this. One other quick benefit to cold exposure is that it increase dopamine output. Dopamine is the motivation neurotransmitter and is responsible for us to mover forward towards things we want. An increase dopamine means better focus on the 75 Hard Challenge and completing it successfully.

Now that I have established my plan, my objectives and goals. Let's get to work. Look for my next blog post and email/news letter for Day 1. Here's to fitness, both physical and mental, and to health and longevity. Here's to the new you.

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