12-3-30 Workout: How Effective is This Fitness Trend?

Yet another trend has been born out of a viral TikTok video, but how effective is this fitness workout? We take a closer look at the 12-3-30 workout.


Tina Chang
Updated 31 March 2022
12-3-30 Workout: How Effective is This Fitness Trend?
Sections on this page
  1. What is the 12-3-30 Workout?
  2. This Fitness Trend Has Caused Quite a Stir
  3. A Workout Routine for Women Over 40
  4. How to Safely Try the 12-3-30 Workout
  5. Risks and Drawbacks of the 12-3-30 Workout
  6. Benefits of Cardio Workouts on a Treadmill
  7. Frequently Asked Questions

Lauren Giraldo is known as the mother of the 12-3-30 workout. Since posting her treadmill routine on YouTube in 2019 (which now has more than 1.3 million views), the workout blew up and went even more viral after she shared it on TikTok, becoming one of the latest fitness trends on social media.

What is the 12-3-30 Workout?

The 12-3-30 workout is an exercise routine completed entirely on a treadmill. The numbers clue you into how it works:

  • 12: Incline
  • 3: Speed (3 miles per hour)
  • 30: 30 minutes

So, you set your treadmill to an incline of 12% and a speed of 3 mph, then hop on and walk for 30 minutes. According to Giraldo, the treadmill workout helped her lose 30 pounds.

12-3-30 focuses on the following muscle groups:

  • Hamstrings
  • Quadriceps
  • Glute muscles

It also helps you build strength in muscles that protect your joints in your lower body.

Incline walking versus walking on flat ground burns more calories as it requires a lot more energy (especially at a level 12 incline). This will help you get lean faster and improve your cardiovascular health.

Great for Those Who Don't Like Spinning or Running

If you're one of many people who dread taking a spin class or running, the 12-3-30 workout is a great alternative. It's a challenging workout, but you're walking and not moving quickly.

This Fitness Trend Has Caused Quite a Stir

The 12-3-30 workout routine has become a hit on social media, including YouTube and TikTok. It has several hashtags, and there are millions of views on these videos posted by people who choose this over other cardio workouts. People just can't seem to stop sharing this workout online.

@laurengiraldo This is how I lost 30 pounds! Share your results 💪🏻 🍑#fyp #fitness #weightloss

Women are sharing their weight loss journeys thanks to this workout and tips on how to try this treadmill workout safely.

Fitness experts have also weighed in on this walking workout, saying it's a great low-impact cardio workout that you can incorporate into your fitness regime. However, most state that this isn't the only workout you should do if you want to get fit and lose weight.

People across social media love this treadmill workout because:

  • It takes just 30 minutes of your day.
  • It's great for weight loss.
  • It works out multiple areas of your body.
  • Anyone can do it—you don't need to learn a new exercise.
  • It's easy on your joints due to its low-impact nature (much better than running).
  • It burns more calories than regular walking (without an incline).

A Workout Routine for Women Over 40

Although Giraldo and many others who swear by the 12-3-30 fitness routine are in their 20s or 30s, it's highly recommended for women over 40. This is because it's great for building strength while not putting too much stress on your body.

As we age, we lose density in our bones, but exercises like running can help slow down this bone loss. The 12-3-30 workout is seen as the better alternative to running because there is less impact on your joints.

This workout is especially great for people who have been out of the exercise game for a while and need to build up their fitness slowly. Not only will it help you get your cardiovascular fitness levels back up, but it will also help you build strength.

How to Safely Try the 12-3-30 Workout

Before trying this workout, you should consult a health professional, especially if you have underlying health conditions, injuries, or haven't exercised in a while. Although you're walking at a relatively slow pace, you will be incline walking at a pretty steep slope, so it is pretty challenging.

What You'll Need

  • Treadmill (if you don't have your own, you can use your gym's treadmill)
  • Treadmill safety key
  • Treadmill safety belt (optional)
  • Good pair of walking/running shoes.

How to Start Your Treadmill Workout

  1. Standing on the treadmill, clip the safety key to the front of your top (make sure the other end is connected to the treadmill). This will make sure the treadmill stops immediately should you fall.
  2. Turn the treadmill on and walk at a brisk pace to warm up. Keep the treadmill at a flat surface—don't introduce an incline just yet. Warm-up for about 5 minutes before moving on.
  3. Turn the speed up/down to 3 mph when you're ready to start.
  4. Start increasing the incline, so you're walking uphill. If you're not confident, start at a lower gradient, don't go up to 12 immediately.
  5. Work your way up to an incline of 12% at 3 mph.
  6. Walk for 30 minutes.
  7. Turn the incline back down to 0% and walk for 5 minutes to cool down.

If incline walking is new to you, you may wish to wear a treadmill belt that connects you to the treadmill. In addition, you may want to start with a smaller incline for your first treadmill set (e.g., 6% incline at 3 mph for 30 minutes).

It's essential that you speak to your healthcare professional before starting any intense workout regime, such as the 12-3-30. Some fitness experts warn against doing this exercise every day when you first start. Although you may want to speed up your weight loss journey, it's essential to allow your body time to heal, or you risk serious injuries.

Staying Safe Doing this Workout

The safest way to start this workout is by having a certified personal trainer with you to ensure you're not doing anything that could lead to injury or other health issues. If you haven't exercised in a while, you may want to start with just power walking on a flat surface.

Risks and Drawbacks of the 12-3-30 Workout

Although many people rave about the 12-30-30 fitness trend, you need to be aware of a few downsides and risks before incorporating it into your exercise routine.

These include:

  • Risk of injury if you are new to working out or don't maintain good form while walking on the treadmill.
  • An increase in blood pressure, which may be unsafe for certain people. 
  • Risk of overuse injury (e.g., if you do too much too soon).
  • Risk of injury from falling off the treadmill (especially for those new to the workout).

Additionally, not everyone has access to a treadmill, which is necessary for this workout.

Benefits of Cardio Workouts on a Treadmill

There are many benefits to walking on a treadmill, whether you have one at home or use one at your gym, including:

  • It can help you burn calories at a higher rate than other forms of aerobic exercise (great for weight loss).
  • It's not affected by the weather (if it's raining outside, you can still go for a run on your treadmill).
  • You can do the 12-3-30 workout—since this workout requires a steep incline for three miles, you can't do this without a treadmill (unless you have access to a big hill).
  • You engage different muscle groups, including your abs, back, glutes, arms, and other core muscles.
  • Great for improving your heart health.
  • You can watch your favorite shows or even work while working out.
  • You can pace yourself properly by setting the right speed.

Frequently Asked Questions

How many calories does the 12-3-30 workout burn?

The number of calories you'll burn from this workout will depend on several factors, including your:

  • Weight
  • Age
  • Body type
  • Fitness level

The best way to monitor your caloric burn is to wear a heart rate monitor while doing the exercise.

What equipment do I need to try the 12-3-30 workout?

To try the 12-3-30 workout, you'll need a treadmill that supports inclines up to 12% and a speed of 3 mph. Treadmills at your gym should suffice.

Will the 12-3-30 workout help me lose weight?

Many people swear by this fitness trend for weight loss, and you may see good results depending on your body type. However, fitness experts say this workout should be an addition to a well-rounded routine that incorporates other exercises and workouts, such as resistance training.

Can I do the 12-3-30 workout without a treadmill?

Technically, you could do the 12-3-30 without a treadmill, but you will need to find a hill with the proper incline that goes for 1.5 miles. Unfortunately, most people don't have access to such a perfect hill for this workout, so you need a treadmill.

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