I’ve always been pretty sceptical of viral TikTok workouts like the 12-3-30 workout. They can be created by anyone with an account, after all, so their merits aren’t usually backed by science – even the ones that go wild. The 12-3-30 workout (which has had 64million views so far) seemed different, though.
Rather than absolutely destroying you into a pool of sweat and tears, like most of the trends that have gone viral (the 600 calories in 60 minutes challenge, for example), it’s based purely on walking on a treadmill. It does sound easier than it is, but the fact that it’s accessible to pretty much everyone, and not governed by any dangerous parameters like calories burnt or time taken, made it a lot more credible, in my eyes.
After seeking confirmation from fourfive ambassador and celeb PT Jenny Francis-Townson that it’s (generally) safe, then, I decided to set myself my very own 12-3-30 workout challenge: one session every day for a week. Here’s what happened, and what Francis-Townson has to say about it.
What is the 12-3-30 workout?
It was created by social media star Lauren Giraldo and follows a simple format:
- Set your treadmill incline to 12%
- Set your speed to 3mph
- Walk for 30 minutes
Giraldo is based in the US, where treadmills use miles as their speed metric. If you're in the UK, though, treadmill speed is measured in kmph, so you'll need to set your speed to 4.8.
You should also start with a five-minute warm-up and a five-minute cool-down, both without any incline.
What are the benefits of the 12-3-30 workout?
Francis-Townson tells us that the trend certainly has its place. These are the most significant benefits of the trend:
- It’s low impact
- It builds lower body strength
- It helps improve cardiovascular fitness
- It burns fat
- It strengthens bones
- It improves balance
- It improves stamina
Is the 12-3-30 workout safe?
Safety is the reason most TikTok workouts don’t quite sit with me, but I figured that walking couldn’t be half as dangerous as some other exercises out there, and Francis-Townson is on the same page.
‘Any exercise we do comes with an element of risk but walking - even at a fast pace - is an activity that is safe for most people to do without much trouble or concern,’ she tells me. ‘The fact that you are doing this steep uphill walk on a treadmill is also a lot safer than doing so outside, on uneven ground, when you run the risk of tripping.’
She did have some words of warning, though. ‘Walking on a very steep gradient for 30 minutes will put a lot of pressure on your lower back. If you don’t have solid posture or your core muscles aren’t strong enough to support you throughout, you could find your lower back takes the brunt of the strain which can lead to problems and pain.
‘If you’re not used to repetitive walking or running, you could also find you feel pain in knees or ankles or calves due to overuse and the repetitive nature of this form of exercise.’
To make sure that doesn’t come into fruition, she suggests doing the workout once or twice a week. (Although I did the workout every day for a week, know that this was all in the name of research. It’s neither wise nor sustainable to do the same.)
Plus, if you know you suffer with joint issues, ease yourself in with your own incline – there are still rewards to reap from walking for 30 minutes, no matter what the speed or incline.
Who is the 12-3-30 workout good for, and who should avoid it?
- People with a good fitness base who want to ‘tune out to the world’
- People who are prone to injury/joint pain and will benefit from low impact movement
Should be approached with caution by:
- Beginners, since ‘it’s certainly a challenge and will put a lot of strain on your body’, so says Francis-Townson
- Those who are already suffering with knee or lower back problems
5 things I learnt from doing the 12-3-30 workout every day
1. Interactive workouts make the time go so much quicker
This one isn’t really news, but turns out, walking on a treadmill for 30 minutes isn’t the one for me. The first two days were fine, but by day three I was well and truly dreading the idea of another 12-3-30 workout. Like Francis-Townson tells me, though, it’s ideal for anyone who wants to properly zone out while getting a sweat on. No reps to count, no equipment to keep guard of between sets, nada.
Luckily, Francis-Townson says it’s actually more efficient to nail one or two 12-3-30 workouts per week, alongside other forms of exercise. ‘The moment it becomes boring is the moment you’ll start finding excuses not to do it,’ she explains.
‘There’s no need to do it every day. I’d advise once or twice a week, alongside other strength training and bodyweight exercises.’ Good news for anyone in the same boat as me.
2. Even low-impact movement can be harmful if overdone
It obviously makes more sense for anyone with existing joint issues to punt for time on the treadmill over burpees and the like – it can actually be beneficial to walk over rest, to build up joint and bone strength – but know that the age-old adage ‘too much of a good thing’ applies.
I’ve never really experienced joint problems before, but about mid-way through my fourth 12-3-30 workout, my ankles began to feel uncomfortable and achey. Francis-Townson says this could be down to the trainers I was wearing, or simply too much of the same movement.
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‘It could be that your shoes aren’t good for this sort of repetitive exercise,’ she says. ‘It could also be because you’re simply using muscles in your ankles that you don’t usually use this often. We have so many muscles and tendons leading from our legs to our feet, and walking uphill for long periods is going to put this under a lot of pressure.’
I’ve done plenty of long runs (albeit not on consecutive days) in the Adidas Ultraboost trainers I wore during this challenge, so I’d attribute the aches largely to doing the same movement, over and over. Rest is key – more on this to come.
3. Walking isn’t necessarily ‘easy’
If there’s one thing to take from this article, it’s that the 12-3-30 workout isn’t as easy as it seems. Naturally, it’s harder to do it for seven consecutive days like I did, but even the first session surprised me. I was sweating. Like, on par with HIIT-level sweating. I was also so hungry after every workout that I ate enough to feed a small village.
Francis-Townson reassures me this is to be expected: ‘You’ll definitely notice you’re hungrier because you’re using up so much energy by moving for so long with no rest. You’re also using your leg muscles to an extreme and causing micro tears in a similar way that you do in strength training, which means your body needs to repair, which requires energy in its own right.’
The first session became a fasted cardio session since I completed it before work at 7.30am (round of applause for me), and I find it hard to eat so early in the morning, but from day two onwards I made sure to have a banana with my coffee for some extra fuel. That certainly helped, but I practically doubled my typical portion sizes of breakfast, lunch and dinner.
What did I eat? I’ve been through the mill with eating issues, and I now strongly believe that food should be used for more than just fuel. It’s there to be enjoyed, so to that end, I ate whatever made me feel good at the time. Sweet potato is a staple, as is chicken, salmon and nuts – all of which I love, but also that packed in the protein to help my muscles recover.
4. Timing your workouts appropriately really helps
Ever the optimist, I decided that on day three, I’d attempt a weight session after my 12-3-30 workout. Safe to say, it wasn’t my best. I could barely do five reps with weights that I can usually whack out 10-15 with.
Francis-Townson explains why: ‘If you want to strength train alongside this type of workout, I’d advise doing your resistance session first, then using the 12-3-30 workout as a finisher, or making sure you eat before your workout to give yourself that extra bit of energy.’
I basically had nothing left in the tank after giving the 12-3-30 workout my all.
Francis-Townson adds that a lack of hydration could have also played a part. ‘You lose a lot of water during a cardio workout like the 12-3-30 workout, so make sure you drink more water than usual.’
5. Rest days are needed, even with low impact movement
Experts claim that the 12-3-30 workout can help improve your stamina, but, TBH, I felt the opposite – the workouts got harder as the week went on. Francis-Townson says this is simply because I wasn’t taking any rest days.
‘It’s an intense workout,’ she begins. ‘And in order to build stamina, you need to give your body time to rest and recover, to come back stronger and with stamina. If you want to use the 12-3-30 workout as a way to build stamina, it’s vital you take rest days in between each session.’
The upshot? Almost all of the issues I ran into come back to not resting. So, if you’re keen to try the 12-3-30 workout, it’s imperative you take days off. Like I said, I took on the challenge in order to get some serious insight, not with the intention of continuing in the same vein.
'I did the 12-3-30 workout everyday for a week, here's everything I learned'? ›
After 30 days, I noticed a big difference in my body and overall wellness. My legs felt and looked stronger and I shrunk a size in jeans.How long does it take to see results with 12-3-30? ›
After 30 days, I noticed a big difference in my body and overall wellness. My legs felt and looked stronger and I shrunk a size in jeans.Can I do the 12-3-30 workout everyday? ›
Floyd-Jones warns against this and recommends sticking to the 12-3-30 workout two or three days a week max. Intervening days are better spent building up other muscles—like those of your core and back—by doing resistance- and mobility-based training or body-weight exercises at home.How many times a week do you do the 12-3-30 workout? ›
So, depending on your fitness level (and whether this workout is moderate or high intensity for you), doing the 12-3-30 treadmill routine about 3 to 5 times per week meets those benchmarks, Metzl says.How many calories does the 12-3-30 method burn? ›
Weight loss and health benefits
Bassett estimated a person who weighed 150 pounds would burn 283 calories per “12, 3, 30” workout. In comparison, walking at that speed for 30 minutes without the incline would burn 113 calories, he said.
The takeaway. The 12-3-30 treadmill workout is an effective way to increase aerobic fitness, burn calories, boost your mood, and improve your heart health while engaging muscles in your lower body. Combined with a healthy diet and calorie deficit, it can also promote healthy weight loss.How much weight can you lose in a month by doing 12-3-30? ›
Due to her influence, many have started taking her lead and the results were quite surprising. Those who have tried it out claim to have lost around 20 pounds in a month and are now calling it the 12-3-30 lifestyle. So, what is this workout all about and does it really work? What is the 12-3-30 workout?Does walking on an incline burn belly fat? ›
Using the incline on the treadmill effectively burns belly fat, even if it's a 30-minute walking workout at a moderate pace.Does 12 3 30 actually burn fat? ›
It helps improve cardiovascular fitness. It burns fat. It strengthens bones. It improves balance.Does incline walking burn fat? ›
Walking on an incline causes your body to use more energy, which leads to more fat being burned. Additionally, walking on an incline is easier on your joints than running, making it a safer and more effective way to burn fat.
Does incline walking burn fat or build muscle? ›
Incline treadmill walking is a great way to shed body fat when paired with the right weight loss supplement and diet plan. It's an aerobic exercise that will also get your heart rate up and improve blood flow throughout the body.What is the best incline for weight loss? ›
- Start with a flat incline or at 1%
- Warm up for 5 minutes with a brisk walk.
- After 5 minutes, increase the incline to 12%
- Keep the speed the same and walk for another 30 minutes.
- After 30 minutes, reduce the incline back down to flat or 1% for your cool down.
When it comes to the muscle-strengthening benefits of incline walking vs running, in most cases, as long as the incline is at least moderate, incline walking trumps running. Incline walking is essentially a form of resistance training because walking up an incline requires contending against the force of gravity.Is walking on an incline better than running for fat loss? ›
If you're a 160-pound body weight person walking on an incline for one hour, you can expect to burn 440 calories. The same 160-pound person running at 6 miles an hour for one hour burns 720 calories on flat ground. Therefore, over the same period of time, running burns a greater amount of calories.What exercise burns the most calories? ›
According to Healthline, running burns the most calories. A tried and true exercise that requires little more than your legs and the open road, running burns just over 800 calories for a 155-pound adult per hour.Why does 12 3 30 burn so many calories? ›
The steep, 12 percent incline forces your body to work harder than walking on a flat surface, which will burn more calories, she says.Why is 12 3 30 so hard for me? ›
The 12-3-30 workout is an intermediate workout that may be too hard for beginners, people with knee issues, or anyone with a significant weight to lose. One 12-3-30 modification is to drop the incline. You could start with 1-2% incline and each week up the incline by 1% until you hit the super steep 12% incline.How to lose 20 30 pounds in 3 weeks? ›
- Count calories. ...
- Drink more water. ...
- Increase your protein intake. ...
- Reduce your refined carb consumption. ...
- Start lifting weights. ...
- Eat more fiber. ...
- Follow a sleep schedule. ...
- Set reasonable goals and stay accountable.
If you want to tone your legs and build more strength in the lower body, the 12-3-30 workout can help. “Incline walking is great for your leg muscles, helping to develop muscular endurance and strength, particularly in your glutes, hamstrings and calves,” explains Folusha.Is walking incline better then walking flat? ›
One study found that compared to walking on a flat surface, participants burned 17 percent more calories at a 5 percent incline and 32 percent more calories at a 10 percent incline. If walking on the treadmill is already part of your fitness routine, increasing the incline is an easy way to maximize your next workout.
Is Incline walking better than flat walking? ›
Increases activation of lower leg muscles
Research shows that walking on a medial incline ramp activates the peroneal muscles significantly more than walking on a normal or flat surface. These findings support the use of incline walking to strengthen the peroneals and help people with weak ankles ( 5 ).
Holding on to the treadmill cheats the lower back out of doing work, weakening the all-important core muscles. Tall people who hold on are even more at risk for leaning forward, and exercising with a slumped posture. View a tall person from the side who's clinging to the machine and note their poor posture.How many calories does 12 3 burn? ›
Everyone's body is different, so the number of calories you burn during the 12-3-30 workout will vary from my experience. However, when I did the 12-3-30 workout, the treadmill readout said I burned about 195 calories.What is a good incline on a treadmill? ›
What's the best incline to run on a treadmill? Depending on your physical and cardiovascular health, experts usually say around 1-2% incline is best. If you're looking for more of a challenge or an advanced runner, you can move it up to 5-6% and beyond. Running on a treadmill incline has many benefits.What is the best speed on a treadmill for fat loss? ›
Generally, 4 to 6 mph is the average jogging speed. You can increase the speed or add more minutes to make this workout harder. For an easier version, increase the incline by 0.5 percent each minute. Repeat until you've reached a 4 to 5 percent incline, then work in reverse.Is incline or speed better on a treadmill? ›
Since the majority of people run differently, depending on whether they're on flat ground or uphill, referring to your treadmill for amount of calories burned isn't a helpful measurement. Instead, focus on running at a controlled, strong pace uphill to maximize your workout and activate the largest muscles.What is the best speed on a treadmill to lose weight? ›
Invest the Time. To maintain your weight, you'll need to walk on a treadmill at a moderate pace of 3.5 miles per hour for no less than 150 minutes per week. Or you can walk at vigorous pace of 4.5 miles per hour for 75 minutes per week. To lose weight, you'll need to walk for a longer amount of time at either pace.Does walking tone your butt? ›
Walking is absolutely a great form of exercise, and one that doesn't get a ton of love because it's so chill and easy compared to other forms of exercise, Saltos says. But, rather than building butt muscles, walking can actually make your bum a bit smaller.How many days a week should I incline walk? ›
If your treadmill incline walking workouts increase your heart rate into the moderate-intensity physical activity zone, doing 30 minutes of incline walking five days per week will help you reach the guidelines for physical activity, whereas you will only need to walk 25 minutes three times per week if you push up into ...How fast should you walk on an incline? ›
Bhusri suggests walking at 3 mph at an incline between 16 and 18 percent. In general, "the greater the incline and the longer the period of time spent exercising on that incline, the faster you'll see results."
What incline number is best? ›
Depending on the brand and model, they range from 1-40% percent incline. Although the ideal incline for most people is between 1-7%, stepping out of your comfort zone for a 20%+ incline workout is a good idea from time to time.What incline walk burns the most calories? ›
While the number of calories burned by each person is based on individual factors, walking or running at an incline of two percent or more burns more calories than walking or running outdoors on a level surface —the body uses a greater percentage of fat for fuel.What angle is best for incline walking? ›
Instead, the researchers found that there was actually an optimal range of slope angles, a “Goldilocks plateau” of between 20 and 35 degrees where the degree of incline “doesn't really matter and the same rate of ascent requires the same rate of energy expenditure,” Kram said.Is Incline walking better than squats? ›
Incline Walking vs. Squats: Which Is Better For Glutes? Squats take the cake (no pun intended) over incline walking for building a bigger butt. Squatting places the glutes through a large stretch under heavy loads, increasing muscular tension.Is it better to walk outside or on a treadmill with incline? ›
If you are wondering which burns more calories, treadmills or walking outside, opt for walking outside. Uneven terrains provide extra resistance, thus making you involve more muscles and burn more calories as a result.Is walking on an incline better than HIIT? ›
IS ONE BETTER THAN THE OTHER? HIIT walking offers a big calorie burn for a short time, making it a weight-loss favorite. Depending on the format you follow, it can also lead to a greater calorie burn compared to incline walking. However, if you're pushing to your max, and often, it's possible to overtrain.Does walking on incline burn thigh fat? ›
Walking on an incline will help you shed off the extra fat from the hip and thigh area. The higher the incline, the more calories are burnt. Since, fat reduction is based on caloric burning process, walking on a hill or incline will help in slimming the hip and thigh area.How many calories do you burn walking at an incline? ›
Calories Burned Walking Uphill
For every 1% of uphill grade, a 150-pound person burns about 10 more calories per mile (an increase of about 12%). That means that at a 10% grade, that 150-pound person burns more than twice as many calories per mile as they would walking on flat ground.
- Try curbing carbs instead of fats. ...
- Think eating plan, not diet. ...
- Keep moving. ...
- Lift weights. ...
- Become a label reader. ...
- Move away from processed foods. ...
- Focus on the way your clothes fit more than reading a scale. ...
- Hang out with health-focused friends.
- Lose weight gradually. Although it may not always be an option, losing weight slowly is the best way to prevent loose skin. ...
- Lose weight by building muscle. ...
- Eat a balanced diet. ...
- Quit smoking. ...
- Stay hydrated. ...
- Protect your skin.
How to lose 2lbs a week? ›
Generally to lose 1 to 2 pounds a week, you need to burn 500 to 1,000 calories more than you consume each day, through a lower calorie diet and regular physical activity. Depending on your weight, 5% of your current weight may be a realistic goal, at least for an initial goal.What exercise loses the most belly fat? ›
The most effective exercise to burn stomach fat is crunches. Crunches rank top when we talk of fat-burning exercises. You can start by lying down flat with your knees bent and your feet on the ground.
After 30 days, I noticed a big difference in my body and overall wellness. My legs felt and looked stronger and I shrunk a size in jeans.What does 12 3 30 target? ›
For starters, the 12/3/30 method is a total lower-body workout, says Haley Gott, a certified personal trainer. "It's a great way to activate multiple muscle groups in your legs," she adds, including your quads, your hamstrings, your glutes, and your calves.Does overthinking burn more calories? ›
“You will in fact burn more energy during an intense cognitive task than you would vegging out watching Oprah or whatever,” he says. But in the context of the average person's overall energy expenditure, the difference in calorie burn from one mental task to another is a tiny amount, he adds.How effective is the 12 3 30 workout? ›
Scientific research from 2020 shows that exercising around 300 minutes a week can lead to weight loss and a reduction in body fat.4 The 12-3-30 workout, unfortunately, doesn't quite meet that standard—even if you do it every day (which the experts don't recommend; more on that in a minute).Does 12 3 30 burn more fat? ›
It builds lower body strength. It helps improve cardiovascular fitness. It burns fat. It strengthens bones.Does 12 3 30 boost your metabolism? ›
Yes, the '12-3-30′ treadmill routine can be helpful for weight loss. Walking on a steep incline can burn a lot of calories and increase your metabolism, which can help you to lose weight over time.Does overthinking burn calories? ›
Although thinking hard uses calories, the energy burn is minimal. It's not enough to burn fat and cause weight loss. The brain is also an organ, not a muscle.How to burn 400 to 500 calories a day? ›
- HIIT (High-Intensity Interval Training) ...
- Zumba/Dancing. ...
- Kickboxing. ...
- Swimming. ...
- Running/Sand Running. ...
- Weight Training. ...
- Rope Jumping. ...
- Body Weight Workouts.
Is incline walking better than running for fat loss? ›
Incline walking involves walking uphill. It can burn a similar number of calories as running. You burn more calories at an incline than just walking on a flat surface. Look for a hilly area or walk on an incline on the treadmill.Does fasting until 12 help you lose weight? ›
Fast for 12 hours a day
According to some researchers, fasting for 10–16 hours can cause the body to turn its fat stores into energy, which releases ketones into the bloodstream. This should encourage weight loss. This type of intermittent fasting plan may be a good option for beginners.