Our Trainer Breaks Down the 12-3-30 Workout and How Effective It Is

The viral TikTok routine has become synonymous with walking workouts in just under a year — here's how you can get started.

  • The "12-3-30" walking workout has gone viral on social media, having racked up millions of views and countless adaptations
  • Internet personality Lauren Giraldo, 24, created the walking routine and has since created a brand program around it to encourage weight management efforts among users.
  • Our fitness expert says that walking for weight loss is indeed a real-life attainable goal for almost all — and that an incline can be good for your workouts if you know how to safely start doing so.

    The 12-3-30 workout is just one of the many TikTok-fueled fitness routines social media users have popularized over the last few years, but it's been well received by health and fitness experts as a straightforward way to break a sweat. Those who are just discovering the mega-viral sensation, which has racked up more than 4 million views on TikTok in just over a year, are interested that a routine based on walking could be as effective as it is.

    Getting those 30 minutes of walking in each day is a great way to keep your heart health in check, as the American Heart Association recommends at least 150 minutes of aerobic movement each week. But if you have access to a treadmill, supercharging your walking routine through a 12-3-30 workout may be an effective way to see faster results when it comes to weight management goals you may have.

    That was certainly the case for Lauren Giraldo, a YouTube personality turned TikTok influencer who shared the secret to her recent 30-pound weight loss with millions of followers. She tells fans that she began walking, as opposed to running, to get into shape over three years ago. “I used to be so intimidated by the gym, and it wasn’t motivating,” she told viewers. “But now I go and do this one thing, and I can feel good about myself.”

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    Since Lauren's original TikTok began gaining steam in early 2021, countless other users have been posting about the challenge and how the routine has changed their outlook on fitness. Some users claim it has helped them finally gain traction on weight loss goals, and many others have posted transformational videos after adopting the routine for some time.

    The workout isn't entirely without risk, however, and our own certified personal trainer has a few safety tips to keep in mind should you wish to try adopting the 12-3-30 workout for yourself.

    What is TikTok's 12-3-30 workout?

    As Lauren explains clearly in her TikTok review, the 12-3-30 routine is a lower-body workout that consists solely of walking on a treadmill. If you've yet to see the viral video just yet, here's how Lauren breaks down the classic approach to this walking exercise:

    1. Set your treadmill to a 12% (or point) incline setting when you first step onto the machine.
    2. Bump up your walking speed to three miles per hour.
    3. And break a sweat over the next 30 minutes.

      Any fitness buff would recognize that multiple muscles in your legs are particularly targeted during this workout, primarily glutes, calves and quads. Plus, it's expected that the vigor at which you would be exercising will help you burn calories, a count that varies from person to person and is dependent on current activity levels.

      What are the benefits of the 12-3-30 workout?

      Since walking has earned a reputation for being one of the easiest ways to get moving, it's clear why so many social media users have been energized by Lauren's 12-3-30 routine. And because there's an incline involved, your body certainly reaps more benefits than before, explains Stefani Sassos, MS, RD, CDN, a registered dietitian and certified fitness professional within the Good Housekeeping Institute. "Walking on a treadmill is a great way to introduce yourself to exercise since it's intuitive, and doesn't require much thought or skill to start," she adds. "Incline walking, in particular, is a great lower-impact alternative to running that can instantly up the intensity in your workout."

      Incline walking, in particular, activates many muscles throughout your body, not just within your legs, Sassos explains, and can help tone your entire lower region (and back!), as well as help you increase your cardiovascular stamina while burning calories.

      How many days a week should I do 12-3-30 workouts?

      The idea of a walking exercise routine may sound effortless, but if you're not currently physically active or into another exercise routine, Sasoss says you'll need to start slowly to avoid injuring yourself. This kind of walking is truly a form of vigorous exercise (really, get ready to break a serious sweat!), those who aren't already physically active may want to start on what she calls the 6-3-30 plan at first.

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      "Incline walking, especially at extreme inclines, can put stress on the lower back among other areas, including the hamstrings and knees. Moving solely in what's known as the sagittal plane — moving front and back — can lead to an increased injury risk over time," Sassos explains. "Our body needs to move in all dimensions and directions, which include front to back motions, but also side to side and twisting motions, to create stability and balance so we're not just overcompensating with a single joint or muscle."

      The best way to ease into an effective 12-3-30 routine is to start between two and three times a week, especially if you are not currently physically active. Like many other TikTok users who have turned to the 12-3-30 workout, you'll eventually work up to a 5-day stretch of workouts for best results.

      The bottom line:

      Lauren's 12-3-30 workout routine is one of the better social-media-fueled fitness trends we've seen, and those who already enjoy hitting the gym should feel comfortable giving it a try. Since three miles per hour is a standard walking speed, it's a good target speed for a new treadmill routine. But listen to your body when it comes to setting an incline, and think about adding in your own set of warm-ups and cool-down sessions (no incline!) after your routine is through, Sassos advises. "I wouldn't advise going from sitting down all day to hopping straight into a 12% incline on a treadmill," she adds.

      All in all, however, this may be one of the first TikTok fitness and health trends that experts like Sassos are truly excited about. "Activity is always a good idea, and if incline walking seems attainable to you and inspires you, put on some great music or a podcast and go for it!" Sassos says. "Ease in with a lower incline, and try intervals instead of going for 30 minutes straight at first." For more exercise inspiration and ways to upgrade your current routine, check out some of the easiest exercises you can do at home now.

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