If you're into trying viral fitness trends, you've likely heard all about the 12-3-30 treadmill workout that's raked in over 434M views on TikTok. This invigorating uphill walking routine just takes 30 minutes out of your day and involves walking at a speed of three and an incline of 12. People swear by 12-3-30 as an effective way to lose weight and get into the best shape ever. To test out the hype, I tried the 12-3-30 workout for an entire week and have a lot to say.
Treadmills have forever been a favorite cardio go-to for so many individuals; they're easily accessible and can be used no matter the time of year or what the weather's doing outside. The 12-3-30 workout has put this piece of equipment front and center on the workout map ever since influencer Lauren Giraldo introduced the routine to TikTok.
"The 12-3-30 workout is a good workout in terms of being a great low-impact option form of exercise, considering to the general population walking is a moderate activity," explains April Gatlin, ACE, master trainer for STRIDE Fitness. "When walking on a treadmill with an incline, the posterior muscles are recruited, as it is a form of resistance training. In this particular 12-3-30 workout, the body is forced to walk at a pretty steep incline rather than a flat road so not only will more calories be burned but the glutes, hamstrings, back, and core muscles will be strengthened."
Read on to learn about my 12-3-30 week-long journey, and when you're done, check out the 5 Most Effective At-Home Workouts for Weight Loss.
12-3-30 is not for the faint of heart.
Walking and light jogging are my main forms of cardio. I usually go on a one-hour, two-to-three-mile jaunt several times a week outdoors, with some moderate hills sprinkled in. Needless to say, I was not at all intimidated to try this workout. That being said, I was quite surprised to find the 12-3-30 incline treadmill workout to be pretty intense—especially for my legs, glutes, and even my core.
Just three minutes into day one of my first 12-3-30 workout, I started to feel a noticeable pulling on my upper thighs. On day two, I actually wanted to cry. On day three, I was extremely tempted to cheat and lower the incline down to nine. (However, I did not.) By day four, I still found myself keeping an eye on the clock, wanting the workout to go faster than it actually was. But alas, I stuck with 12-3-30 for the full week. It was certainly a challenge—literally an uphill battle for 30 straight minutes, five days in a row.
Suffice it to say, 12-3-30 is not for the faint of heart. As a moderate-to-intense walker, I wouldn't recommend this routine to beginner walkers. I'm guessing it's a common assumption that a walker at any fitness level could blow through this workout very quickly and easily. However, walking at a steep incline—level 12—for a straight half-hour is truly a workout and a half.
Beginners might want to start at an incline of five to eight and work their way up. As for the speed setting, three is quite doable for me. It's probably a pace I would keep when walking uphill for this length of workout. The challenge for me was the consistent, intense incline.
"Though the 12-3-30 sensation is prescribed as to be done five times a week, if someone wants to ease into this routine, it would be wise to do it two to three times a week for a couple of weeks then add an additional session for another couple weeks until five times a week is a more doable feat," Gatlin tells us.
I felt a little bit deceived.
You know what "they" say… don't believe everything you see on social media! There's usually a lot more going on behind the scenes.
When scrolling through the 12-3-30 workout videos on TikTok, you'll find a bunch of fitness enthusiasts rocking coordinating workout sets, walking to the beat of a pump-up song, making the routine seem like a total "walk in the park." Well, it may not be a walk in the park for many, but rather, it can feel like a 30-minute trek up a mountain without a break. A lot of the videos don't show that aspect of it. Although I had a nice coordinating workout set on each day, my face was beet red, I was sweating, and looked like a struggling marathoner.
… But I also felt incredibly accomplished after the week was done.
Hey—no pain, no gain, right? After completing an entire week of 12-3-30, I felt incredibly accomplished and proud of myself for sticking with it. It was clear I got an effective workout every day I hit the treadmill. I discovered that I favor a routine like this that kills two birds with one stone. As Gatlin previously stated, it provides a cardio and resistance workout all in one. My entire lower body really felt the burn, which made me feel very productive and invigorated after each 30-minute session.