TikTok treadmill workout 12-3-30 claims to burn calories and help you lose weight. It was initially shared on YouTube by social media influencer Lauren Giraldo who later reshared it on TikTok, explaining that other workouts weren't motivating her until she started doing this one treadmill routine. Since sharing this treadmill routine, many others have raved about its effectiveness and simplicity.
The workout lasts 30 minutes and is named after the speed and incline you set the treadmill at. It's a cardio-based routine that doesn't require running (bonus points!) but will still get your heart rate up. "I love this workout. Any workout that you do on an incline delivers benefits like working on your balance and strengthening your core," says FightCamp trainer PJ Shirdan.
Keep reading to find out more about how to do the 12-3-30 workout, what the benefits are, and whether it's a good choice for you.
Meet the Expert
- PJ Shirdan is a FightCamp Trainer and a NASM-certified personal trainer.
How It Works
To do the 12-3-30 workout, walk on a treadmill for 30 minutes with the machine set at an incline of 12 and a speed of 3 mph. You can see that the name of the workout reveals the details of how it works, making it easier to remember when you're at the gym.
Some treadmills may not go up to 12 for an incline level or may use a different numbering system. Just set the incline at a challenging level where you feel you are working pretty hard but do not have to run to get your heart rate up. If your treadmill only has a low incline and you don't feel challenged, try increasing the speed a little at a time until you find the correct speed for you.
Don't forget to warm up first. A good way to do this is to spend a minute or two at a lower speed and reduced incline level, then slowly move up to a higher speed and incline for another minute or two before reaching the final 12-3 level. Then you can start counting down for 30 minutes to complete the workout.
Here, Shirdan helps us break down the benefits of the 12-3-30 workout, so you can decide whether it's right for you.
The popularity of the 12-3-30 workout "has inspired people everywhere to get active," says Shirdan. And that's excellent, because the CDC recommends at least 150 minutes of moderate physical activity each week for general health. Most people fall short.
Some research shows that most people get about 5,000 steps per day, with some reports showing as low as 3,000 as an average. If this is true for you, you are very unlikely to be reaching that 150-minute minimum.
Incorporating the 12-3-30 workout into your day will go a long way toward better health. In fact, a study conducted by the American Heart Association monitored 11,000 middle-aged Americans over six years. The results revealed study participants who participated in 30 minutes of walking four times per week had a significantly lower risk of heart failure than non-walking participants.
Provides Steady-State Cardio
The 12-3-30 workout is considered steady-state cardio. "This means that you are getting your heart rate up to a moderate level and keeping it there vs. taking it up to a high level and then bringing it back down as done in interval training. In combination with strength training and a healthy diet, steady-state cardio is a fitness routine that all levels of skill can maintain," explains Shirdan.
Steady-state cardio has sometimes taken a backseat to the flashy HIIT style of training, but it has its place in your fitness routine. Steady-state is less physically intense, making it better for beginners or those on a reduced-calorie diet. Also, you shouldn't perform super-high-intense cardio every day as it can lead to overtraining.
Some research suggests that performing high-intensity exercise daily can actually damage your mitochondria—the energy production system in your cells. Steady-state offers an alternative that keeps you active without overdoing it.
Low-Impact and Joint Friendly
"The 12-3-30 workout is easy on the joints while helping to maintain and build bone density," says Shirdan. "Running is excellent for bone density, but it is high impact and can lead to joint pain. The 12-3-30 workout is a low-impact alternative, which makes it easier on the joints," he continued.
If you have joint pain during some forms of cardio, using an incline to get your heart rate up instead of speed is a pain-free alternative. Of course, it's still essential that you address the cause of your pain, but keeping active will help avoid further muscle loss and dysfunction.
As well, if you are a runner, cross-training with the 12-3-30 workout is an excellent way to cut back on pounding the pavement and the potential damage it can do to your joints if you overtrain.
Builds Lower Body Muscle and Strength
"During the 12-3-30 workout, you bring the treadmill up to a 12% incline, which is great for your legs because walking at this elevation will strengthen and shape the muscles in the legs, including the hamstrings, quadriceps, and glute muscles," explains Shirdan.
You will also recruit the hip, knee, and ankle extensors, building strength in the muscles that help provide function and stability to your lower body, protecting your joints.
Helps with Weight Balance
Following the 12-3-30 workout can help you balance your weight. "Because you are walking at a 12% incline, you will burn more calories than if you were walking for the same duration of time with no elevation," says Shirdan.
If you've added walking to your fitness routine, switching it up with the 12-3-30 workout can help you make progress if your goal is to lose weight. The workout also assists with healthy weight maintenance.
There's much more to health than the number on the scale. Physical activity can help with weight balance, but it's also essential for many other reasons, including reducing your risk of cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and more.
Boosts Your Mood
"You will be in a better mood after completing a 12-3-30 workout because cardio exercises such as this one releases endorphins, otherwise known as the “happy hormone," says Shirdan.
Physical activity may boost your mood, reducing feelings of depression, anxiety, and fatigue for some people. It's still vital that you speak to your healthcare provider about these feelings, however.
The 12-3-30 workout is generally very safe for most people. It's still wise to get clearance from your doctor before beginning any new fitness routine. Be sure to use the safety feature on your treadmill in case of falls. With a steep incline, it could lead to injury if you trip and the treadmill doesn't stop.
Make sure to drink plenty of water before and during activity, and rehydrate afterward. Stop if you feel dizzy or unwell and never push past pain. Remember to warm up with a lower incline or a slower speed before you begin.
The Final Takeaway
The 12-3-30 workout is a fun way to change up your training or introduce some low-impact cardio to your routine. Remember, though, that health and wellness is more than just a single workout or about how many calories you can burn. Just because you see people raving about it online does not mean a workout is any better than the activities you already enjoy.
"The results many are posting about may be misleading. This workout is a great addition to a regular, healthy, balanced nutrition plan and resistance training program. Every athlete is different, but this workout alone isn’t enough. It’s a great start, but if you want great results, there is more to the puzzle than being in a caloric deficit from cardio," says Shirdan.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Physical activity for different groups. Updated July 29, 2021.
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