Prevention (Shauna Beni)
It seems like every other day there’s a new fitness craze taking social media by storm, promising to help us lose weight. Unfortunately, not all of these methods are safe and effective. One of the most recent workout trends making waves is the “12-3-30” walking workout. But what exactly is it—and should you give it a try?
Ahead, find everything you need to know about the fitness trend, including if it’s effective, safe, and how to try it for yourself.
What is the 12-3-30 workout?
“The 12-3-30 is a treadmill workout that asks you to walk for 30 minutes with the treadmill set at three miles per hour and a 12% incline,” says Andrea Marcellus, certified personal trainer based in Los Angeles and author of The Way In. “It became a viral social media trend due to its simplicity and the claim by its creator, social media influencer Lauren Giraldo, who said she lost 30 pounds by following the workout.”
Giraldo first shared herself practicing the workout on her Youtube channel in 2019 and then again in more recent TikTok and Instagram posts. Overall, her 12-3-30 walking workout videos have raked in millions of views and likes, proving that people are paying attention to the trend.
Is the 12-3-30 a good workout?
“Anything that gets you inspired to move is a good thing, and keeping it simple really helps many people in that department,” says Marcellus. This may be one of the reasons why this workout is so popular since it focuses on walking and offers a great form of lower-impact exercise.
“The simplicity of the 12-3-30 workout can make getting started on a fitness regimen easy, cost-effective, and less intimidating than other options,” says Marcellus. “The incline work is demanding and will help improve the cardiovascular system faster than walking on a flat surface at the same pace. It will also help you burn more calories without jumping, making it a great option for people who have issues with their feet, ankles, knees, or hips.”
Because the workout doesn’t require any equipment other than a treadmill, it’s also a good option for new gym goers and people of all ages. “In addition to cardiovascular health benefits, walking at an incline of 12% will also help strengthen the muscles in the lower body,” says Alissa Tucker, a National Academy of Sports Medicine (NASM) certified personal trainer and master trainer at AKT Studios in New York. “It’s also relatively gentle on the joints and still gives you the chance to get your heart rate up to burn fat.”
Is the 12-3-30 workout safe?
“Given the low-impact nature of the workout, it’s safe for most people,” says Tucker. However, there are a few things experts want you to keep in mind. “This workout won’t prepare you for movements in daily life because you are only moving on one plane of motion. Therefore you are primarily working the muscles in the front and back of the body and neglecting some of the most important stabilizing muscles, like the outer glutes and deep core muscles,” explains Tucker. She does not recommend using this routine as a primary source of exercise.
If you suffer from lower back problems, take caution in practicing this workout. Experts note that this routine may not be the best option because “the steep incline can put excess strain on the back, especially if the abdominal muscles are not properly supporting the body,” says Tucker.
Another factor to note is that this workout doesn’t involve warm-up and cool-down exercises, which experts warn could be harmful to the body. “Warm-ups are essential for raising the core body temperature, priming the cardiovascular system for hard work, and coating the joints with protective synovial fluid (a thick liquid located between the joints),” explains Marcellus. “It also does not contain a cool down, which is necessary for lowering the heart rate and blood pressure safely, preventing [muscle] strains or tears, flushing lactic acid, and balancing hormones post-workout,” she adds. So if you’re planning on adding this workout to your gym routine, be sure to make time pre- and post-workout.
The American Heart Association recommends getting at least 150 minutes of moderate-intense aerobic activity per week for adults, which includes brisk walking. Though Giraldo said in a TikTok video that she does the 12-3-30 workout five times a week (which helped her lose 30 pounds), our experts suggest varying your workout routine. “You can practice this walking workout three days a week per max and for 30 minutes,” says Marcellus. She also suggests alternating between strength training, yoga, pilates, or other functional training on the other days.
“Try using the 12-3-30 workout as a supplemental workout on days you want to get a quick sweat in from home,” adds Tucker. And if you don’t have a treadmill at home yet, check out our list of the best treadmills to upgrade your home gym.
How to try the 12-3-30 workout
If you think this workout is a good option for you, read on for the best expert-approved tips to help you get a heart-pumping walking workout.
✔️ Warm-up first. “Try walking for five minutes before starting the workout,” says Tucker. “Adding a warm-up at no incline at the beginning will help wake up your muscles and get them ready to work properly,” adds Marcellus.
✔️ Progress slowly. “Even as a relatively healthy woman in her 20s, the creator of the workout admits that it was too hard for her at first and she had to work up to it. For beginners or people returning to exercise after a long break, it’s best to start at a three to four incline and work your way up slowly to 12%,” says Marcellus.
✔️ Use 60-90 seconds intervals. “Working out at an intensity that’s too high will burn muscle sugar, rather than fat. Consider switching to 60-90 second intervals at a 12% incline and then allowing your heart rate to recover at a flat incline until your heart rate is low enough to talk comfortably in between (this may take 60 seconds or up to two minutes depending on your fitness level),” advises Marcellus.
✔️ Alternate your workouts. Changing up your workouts can help you achieve your goals faster by targeting different muscle groups. “Pair this workout with other functional workouts like AKT (a full-body workout) or another comprehensive strength training program that works the body on all planes of motion,” says Tucker.
With these tips in mind, it’s time to get walking. But if the 12-3-30 workout proves a bit too intense for you, remember that modifications exist for a reason.