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‘I Feel Stronger & Less Stressed’ | PT Reviews 75 Soft

The 75 soft challenge is one of the latest wellness challenges taking over TikTok feeds. It’s based on the more difficult 75 hard challenge but designed for people who don’t have time to do two 45-minute exercises every day. We were keen to find out what it involves and whether it’s worth your time, so we enlisted Myprotein PT and managing director of Nxtep Personal Training, Chris Nicklin, to take on the challenge, and he really went for it. Read on to find out how he got on.

If you’re not already familiar with the challenge, here’s a breakdown of the rules:

  • Eat well and only drink alcohol on social occasions
  • Train for 45 minutes every day, with one day a week for recovery
  • Drink three litres of water a day
  • Read 10 pages of any book

Treat your habits as an investment

I am a big believer in the power of habits. Repetition is life. If we take the time to do something every day, our brains and bodiesget used to that behaviour as part of our daily routines. For someone who wants to become fit, lose weight, gain muscle or just get healthy, this is powerful.

I get up at 4:25am and have a cold shower. One of my biggest fears growing up was cold water. Sounds silly, right? In December 2020 I started having cold showers every morning to conquer this fear, and have continued every day since. It’s become part of my daily routine.

I wanted to take on the 75 soft challenge as I’ve always believed in challenging myself. The road to success is rarely comfortable so I like to test myself by trying new things.

Make time for what matters

OK, so I know you may be thinking it’s a big commitment. I felt the same way at first. Work, family, exercise, eating healthily. Who has time for it all?

But put the hard work in, fit things that matter into your routine, and you should build habits that last a lifetime. Believe in yourself and you can achieve your fitness goals.

The game plan

To track my workouts and progress during the challenge, I used the Nxtep Fitness App. I designed a nine-week training programme with a lower-body bias to account for a skiing trip to Austria partway through the challenge. I had also recently recovered from a hand injury that had limited the amount I could lift, so the challenge was a good opportunity to get back fighting fit in the gym.

The rules of the 75 Soft Challenge are: complete a 45-minute workout, eat healthily, drink four litres of water , and read 10 pages of a book. Each of these rules should be followed every day. It’s also suggested you limit your alcohol consumption to social occasions and try not to overdo it when you do drink.

I decided not to take progress pictures as my goal is not physical transformation. What I want is to be as fit, happy, strong and healthy as possible.

Rethinking your relationship with food

The book I chose to read for the challenge was Intuitive Eating: A Revolutionary Anti-Diet Approach. I highly recommend it if you’re interested in hearing about a different approach to nutrition.

Intuitive eating is not a diet or a calorie-counting system. It’s a positive, practical, common-sense approach to eating that focuses on having a healthy relationship with food. Intuitive eating encourages individuals to find and listen to their inner cues of hunger, fullness and satisfaction.

The book has convinced me that intuitive eating can be a powerful tool for weight-management and fitness journeys.

What supplements should you take?

I am a real fitness enthusiast and always looking for ways to improve my performance. I spend a lot of time researching supplements — they’re an effective tool for maximising performance, alongside hydration and a healthy diet. During the challenge, I’ve used several supplements to support my body before, during and after training. But to get the most out of supplements, you must get good sleep and give your body adequate time to recover.

Here’s a list of the supplements I used.

If you are using a supplement for the first time, my suggestion is to use the lowest recommended dose first and see how you feel. I’m sensitive to caffeine, so BCAA Energy Drinks are a massive hit of energy for me — when I have one late in the afternoon, I’m doing somersaults all evening.

My plan

The schedule I designed is easy to follow, and I knew I would be able to get the work done every day of the challenge.

I ordered the exercises on days of the week in a way that made sense for me:

  • Monday: Upper body
  • Tuesday: Lower body (posterior focus)
  • Wednesday: SkiErg/rowing with some abs and mobility
  • Thursday: Back/full-body pull
  • Friday: Lower body
  • Saturday: SkiErg/rowing
  • Sunday: recovery (walking and light movements)

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What I learned

The results? I feel stronger, less stressed, and my home life has even benefitted. Somehow, I’ve even found the time to start building new decking on my house.

I think having clear rules to follow and putting in place an easy-to-follow exercise plan was one of the major reasons the challenge worked so well for me. I even went as far to schedule workouts in my calendar — they were an appointment for me, so I felt a commitment to turn up.

Once I was up and running with the challenge, the workouts became a real kickstart to my day.

The one thing I did find challenging was drinking enough water. So to help stay on track, I made sure to drink a pint as soon as I woke every morning.

The challenge has made me realise that sometimes exercise alone is not enough. Eating well, staying hydrated and making time for other activities are just as essential to success. Once I started doing all these things every day, I started to feel great.

Is the challenge difficult to complete?

The key to succeeding is putting in place a structure and having the commitment to stick to it. If you don’t feel this is something you want to do, then this challenge — as well as other fitness programmes — probably isn’t for you. But if you are motivated and choose exercise you can maintain interest in, then you shouldn’t find it too difficult at all. In fact, the physical and mental benefits a few days in should really propel you throughout the challenge and beyond.

Figuring out what works for you

There is no doubt that through this challenge I’ve found what works for me — I look forward to exercising every day. I guess this is one reason personal training programmes work for so many — you’re accountable for every workout, and that makes you work out more consistently, which leads to better results.

I really enjoyed the 75 soft challenge. I’ve been exercising for approximately 45 minutes every day, sometimes more, and I’ve also been eating mostly healthily. I’ve finished a full book of 400 pages in only half the allotted time, too.

And one of the best parts of the challenge is that I’ve found more time to spend with family, friends, and on my own hobbies that don’t involve the fitness studio.

I think the balance of activity and rest has kept me motivated to continue. I’ve learned a lot about myself and my habits — when I find a good balance like this, I am happier, both professionally and personally.

Take Home Message

I feel stronger and fitter, and this has also given me the motivation to increase my time spent on exercise. I’m excited to see if this level of commitment can be sustained throughout the next 75 days.

 

 

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Emily Wilcock

Emily Wilcock

Writer and expert

Emily is studying Business Management & Marketing at the University of Birmingham and is currently on her intern year. She has a keen interest in both writing and fitness, so is happy she can now combine the two. She likes to spend time with her friends, both in & out of the gym.


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