The 30 Tough September Challenge

30 tough woman walking

Monthly challenges are a new addition to the Two Six lineup, courtesy of our friends at CrossFit Mayhem. These free challenges are designed to provide support and accountability while promoting healthy habits. And our September challenge will be (drumroll please) a 30 Tough.

The 30 Tough is a toned-down version of the popular 75 Hard. Based on a book by Andy Frisella, the 75 Hard is a challenge that consists of seven tasks every day for 75 days:

  • Follow a diet of your choosing.
  • No alcohol or cheat meals.
  • Two 45-minute workouts, one of which must be outside.
  • Read ten pages of a nonfiction book.
  • Drink one gallon of water.
  • Take a progress picture.

Anyone who knows me well knows that I have mixed feelings about 75 Hard. In this post, I’ll explain why that’s the case. I’ll also tell you how to set yourself up for long-term success on a 30 Tough (or 75 Hard).

And if you stick with me until the end, I’ll give you a nifty printable tracker for our 30 Tough challenge.

So let’s get on with it!

Pros and Cons of the 75 Hard

Per Frisella’s Web site, the 75 Hard was designed to boost self-confidence, mental fortitude, and grit, among other positive attributes.

Fans of the challenge report improvements in body composition, energy, productivity, and focus.

And from a behavioral standpoint, that makes a lot of sense! I’ve written before about how focusing on processes is more effective and motivating than focusing on outcomes. I definitely appreciate Frisella’s emphasis on habits.

If this sounds like something you can (and want to) take on, more power to you!

That being said, my primary concerns with 75 Hard are its rigid set of rules, and also the possibility of overtraining.

If you follow 75 Hard to the letter, you’re supposed to start over if you have any sort of slipup.

In my experience as a dietitian and a trainer, this no-mercy approach can definitely backfire, leading to even worse habits than when you start the challenge.

I personally believe that occasional slipups are some of our best opportunities for learning. If, for example, you keep cheating on your 75 Hard diet, it’d be better to reassess if that’s the right diet for you than to start back at day one on the same plan.

And if it’s the right diet, it wouldn’t kill you to just reflect on the circumstances that led you to fall off the wagon and try harder next time without starting over.

I appreciate the argument that doing a 75 Hard with lots of slipups isn’t technically doing a 75 Hard. As its name suggests, it’s supposed to be tough. Personally, I’d be fine with 80 to 90 percent adherence, but maybe that’s just me.

The two-a-day workouts is another concern I have about 75 Hard. Rest days help you get stronger and also help lower your risk of injury and burnout.

There is a way to do 75 Hard without hurting yourself or burning out (more on that in a sec). But for now, just know that two hard workouts per day isn’t a good long-term approach to fitness for most people.

What’s the 30 Tough?

The 30 Tough is a shorter, less intense version of the 75 Hard.

In addition to being only 30 days long, the 30 Tough rules are as follows:

  • Follow any diet.
  • No alcohol or cheat days.
  • Two 30-minute workouts per day, one of which should be outside.
  • Read a nonfiction book for 10 minutes per day.
  • Drink 2/3 of your body weight in water each day (example: 150 pounds=100 ounces)
  • Daily progress pic.

Even though it’s less of a commitment than 75 Hard, I still have some of the same concerns.

So if this also seems daunting to you, let’s talk about how you can approach this in a way that’ll give you good results without taking over your life, shall we?

Tips for 30 Tough

I always tell my fitness and nutrition clients not to leave anything to chance.

With any challenge like this, it’s super important to make a plan.

You know you need to work out twice per day on 30 Tough, so what exactly will you do and when will you do it? Write it down in advance, put it in your calendar, and do it.

The same goes for each of the daily tasks. Don’t just take for granted that you’ll do it–make a specific plan and (when appropriate) schedule time for it. This is especially important as you get started.

Need a few more tips for the 30 Tough?


You can follow any diet you want on 30 Tough, as long as you stick with it for the full 30 days.

Could you do a Whole 30, or try intermittent fasting? Sure, if you want. But I’d recommend starting with something simple.

You might commit to tracking your food for 30 days or eating four servings of vegetables per day. Maybe you want to close the kitchen for 12 hours after dinner or eat every meal sitting at the table or get 30 grams of protein at every meal and snack.

Any of these can count for our Two Six monthly challenge!

Commit to something you’re 90 percent certain you can do for 30 days, make a game plan for each day in advance, and execute that plan.

(Need a little more support and accountability? Our group #moderation365 program starts on 9/5 and TOTALLY counts. Click here to sign up.)

No Alcohol

This one is a bit more straightforward. If you want to get full points on our monthly challenge, you can’t drink any alcohol.

If you’re a regular drinker, you might want to brainstorm some if/then scenarios. For example, “if I’m tempted to have a drink after a stressful day at work, I’ll go on a walk instead.” Some studies suggest that if/then plans can help increase the odds of sticking with healthy routines.

Two Workouts per Day

One workout is a no-brainer on days you hit the gym. But what about that second workout? And what do you do on rest days?

I suggest a walk, an easy bike ride, or some yoga outside.

Remember, planning is key. Inviting a family member or friend on an after dinner stroll or registering for a fitness class will help you stay accountable.

Daily Reading

Do you have a nonfiction book you’ve been wanting to read? If not, you’ll need to pick one up!

As for executing this task, I find habit stacking to be helpful. Find something you do every day without much thought (like cleaning up after dinner) and try to do your reading immediately before or after that daily task.

Drink 2/3 of Your Body Weight in Water (ounces)

Increasing water intake might seem challenging if you’re accustomed to going straight from coffee to FitAid to cocktails every day.

I like to set mini-goals, breaking up my water intake throughout the day. For example, I aim for 32 ounces by 9 a.m., 64 ounces by 12 p.m., and 102 ounces by 3 p.m.

Drinking through a straw and taking 10 big gulps every time you pick up your bottle can also help you meet your daily quota.

Daily Progress Pic

Have you ever watched an ice cube melt at room temperature?

To me, it always seems like nothing’s happening moment to moment. But if you leave the room for a minute and come back in, you notice a huge difference.

The same is true with changes to your body. You can’t always see changes in the mirror day to day, even when you’re being really consistent. But if you compare your day 15 photo with your day one photo, you might see some changes!

Plan to take your progress pic at around the same time every day. Ladies should wear shorts and a sports bra or bikini top, while guys should wear just shorts.

Create a dedicated folder on your phone for this 30 Tough challenge, so you can more easily compare.

Ready for the 30 Tough at Two Six?

Are you ready to get started? Heck yeah you are!

Here’s what you need to know about the official rules:

  1. You’ll need to log your score every day in Wodify (look for the class called Monthly Challenge).
  2. Seven points will be possible each day. Give yourself a point for each task you complete (diet, workouts, no alcohol, no cheat days, reading, water, and progress pics).
  3. Only people who enter a score every day will be eligible to win the challenge prize. The tiebreak will be total points.

We kick off on 9/1, so print out this sheet and get to planning! I’ve left space each day for you to make specific plans for each action item. You can also check off each daily task, mark off your total days, and make any notes about what worked well and what didn’t for the week.

Game on, fam!

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