'I did the 12-3-30 workout everyday for a week, here's everything I learned' (2023)

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?

Good for:

  • 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.

    'I did the 12-3-30 workout everyday for a week, here's everything I learned' (4)

    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.

    'I did the 12-3-30 workout everyday for a week, here's everything I learned' (5)

    adidas Adidas Ultraboost 21 Shoes

    Now 12% Off

    'I did the 12-3-30 workout everyday for a week, here's everything I learned' (6)

    NikeAir Zoom Pegasus 38

    Now 16% Off

    'I did the 12-3-30 workout everyday for a week, here's everything I learned' (7)

    Under Armour UA HOVR™ Phantom 2

    'I did the 12-3-30 workout everyday for a week, here's everything I learned' (8)

    ON RunningCloud X

    ‘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’

    'I did the 12-3-30 workout everyday for a week, here's everything I learned' (9)

    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.


    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.

    Is 12-3-30 enough of a 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).

    What happens if I do 12-3-30 everyday? ›

    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.

    Does incline walking 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 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.

    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.

    What is the best incline for weight loss? ›

    Best workout on treadmill to lose weight
    • 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.
    Aug 24, 2022

    Is walking on an incline better than running for fat loss? ›

    However, one general rule of thumb is that walking on an incline is more effective than running at a flat surface when it comes to burning fat. This is because walking on an incline forces your body to work harder, which in turn causes your body to burn more calories.

    Is walking at an incline better than running? ›

    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.

    What are the cons of 12-3-30? ›

    Bottom Line: 12-3-30 Treadmill Workout

    Doing the 12-3-30 too often could lead to stress on your lower back and overusing certain muscles. It also could lead to boredom, if you don't like zoning out while you exercise. Like other forms of exercise, you can see similar benefits from the 12-3-30.

    Does 12-3-30 tone your legs? ›

    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.

    What are good workouts to pair with the 12-3-30? ›

    For a well-rounded fitness routine, Robinson recommends pairing the 12-3-30 workout with other exercises, such as strength training, yoga or Pilates. Almost anything is welcome so long as you're mixing it up. “Your body will plateau if you're only doing the same thing for weeks or months at a time,” she says.

    What burns belly fat? ›

    Here's how to whittle down where it matters most.
    1. Try curbing carbs instead of fats. ...
    2. Think eating plan, not diet. ...
    3. Keep moving. ...
    4. Lift weights. ...
    5. Become a label reader. ...
    6. Move away from processed foods. ...
    7. Focus on the way your clothes fit more than reading a scale. ...
    8. Hang out with health-focused friends.

    Is Incline walking better than flat walking? ›

    The incline also allows you to get an even greater stretch in your legs and increased workload on your calf muscles. From a cardiovascular standpoint, this increase in work means your heart rate will be higher than walking on a level surface alone.

    How do you lose lower belly fat? ›

    To battle belly fat:
    1. Eat a healthy diet. Focus on plant-based foods, such as fruits, vegetables and whole grains, and choose lean sources of protein and low-fat dairy products. ...
    2. Replace sugary beverages. ...
    3. Keep portion sizes in check. ...
    4. Include physical activity in your daily routine.

    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.

    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.

    How long does it take to see results from working out? ›

    Some people will feel stronger in just 2-4 weeks. For others, depending on their muscle fiber makeup, other genetic qualities, and the quality of their workouts, results in strength are generally seen in 8-12 weeks, according to the researchers. Skeletal muscles aren't the only muscles that get stronger with exercise.

    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.

    Does walking fast or on an incline burn more calories? ›

    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.

    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 ...

    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.

    How to burn 400 to 500 calories a day? ›

    12 Best Exercises To Burn 500 Calories In 30 Minutes
    1. HIIT (High-Intensity Interval Training) ...
    2. Zumba/Dancing. ...
    3. Kickboxing. ...
    4. Swimming. ...
    5. Running/Sand Running. ...
    6. Weight Training. ...
    7. Rope Jumping. ...
    8. Body Weight Workouts.
    Mar 5, 2023

    Is higher incline or faster speed better for weight loss? ›

    Increased Calorie Burn When Using a Treadmill with Incline

    By walking, jogging, or running uphill, your body is forced to work harder. It requires more energy (calories) to make it up the incline. The greater the incline, the harder it works. 1 The harder it works, the more fat you burn.

    What incline burns the most calories? ›

    In fact, at a pace of 3 mph, with a 5.0 incline, you will burn 64 percent more calories than you would without the incline.

    What incline and speed should I use to lose weight? ›

    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.

    Does walking at an incline have the same effect as running? ›

    Walking on an incline involves extra resistance than jogging and will engage your glutes, quads, hamstrings, calves and even your core to maintain good posture. The higher the incline, the more of a strength workout it's going to be.

    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 much of an incline should I walk on? ›

    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."

    Is it better to go fast on a treadmill or incline? ›

    Running at an incline activates the calves, hamstrings and glutes more than running on a “flat road” (0% incline). According to researchers at the University of Georgia, running uphill activates nine percent more muscles each stride compared to running at the same relative intensity on level ground.

    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 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.

    How many months does it take to tone legs? ›

    You can see small results in even two to four weeks, after you begin a leg workout. You will have better stamina, and your legs will look a little more defined. But all in all, depending on your fitness levels, it does take three to four months for any remarkable difference.

    Will walking everyday tone my thighs? ›

    Walking is particularly effective for toning your legs and bum, she adds. “The muscles you use when walking include your calf muscles, thighs and buttocks, so these areas will become more toned and shapely.” However, walking may not tone all areas of the body.

    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.

    Is the 12 3 30 workout good for beginners? ›

    Who should do the 12-3-30 workout? If you are looking to start exercising, this is a great workout for beginners. You can even start at a lower incline or slower speed. Because walking on an incline builds strength in your glutes and hamstrings, it can serve as a stepping stone for strength training.

    How many miles is the 12 3 30 workout? ›

    You set the incline of the treadmill to 12%, the speed to 3.0 miles per hour, and then walk for 30 minutes. Given the walking speed and duration, the 12/3/30 treadmill workout involves walking 1.5 miles.

    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?

    How many calories does 12 3 30 actually 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.

    Does 12 3 30 burn more fat? ›

    It builds lower body strength. It helps improve cardiovascular fitness. It burns fat. It strengthens bones.

    How to lose belly fat? ›

    Here's how to whittle down where it matters most.
    1. Try curbing carbs instead of fats. ...
    2. Think eating plan, not diet. ...
    3. Keep moving. ...
    4. Lift weights. ...
    5. Become a label reader. ...
    6. Move away from processed foods. ...
    7. Focus on the way your clothes fit more than reading a scale. ...
    8. Hang out with health-focused friends.

    Does the TikTok 12 3 30 workout work? ›

    What Experts Think of the '12-3-30' TikTok Treadmill Workout. The viral “12-3-30” workout involves setting a treadmill to 12 percent incline at 3 miles per hour and walking on it for 30 minutes. Experts say that the workout provides good exercise, but it doesn't offer unique benefits versus other cardio routines.

    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.


    Top Articles
    Latest Posts
    Article information

    Author: Gov. Deandrea McKenzie

    Last Updated: 12/11/2023

    Views: 5982

    Rating: 4.6 / 5 (66 voted)

    Reviews: 81% of readers found this page helpful

    Author information

    Name: Gov. Deandrea McKenzie

    Birthday: 2001-01-17

    Address: Suite 769 2454 Marsha Coves, Debbieton, MS 95002

    Phone: +813077629322

    Job: Real-Estate Executive

    Hobby: Archery, Metal detecting, Kitesurfing, Genealogy, Kitesurfing, Calligraphy, Roller skating

    Introduction: My name is Gov. Deandrea McKenzie, I am a spotless, clean, glamorous, sparkling, adventurous, nice, brainy person who loves writing and wants to share my knowledge and understanding with you.