I've always been pretty skeptical of viral TikTok workouts like12-3-30 training. After all, they can be created by anyone with an account, so their benefits aren't usually backed by science — not even those who go wild. The 12-3-30 workout (which has had 64 million views so far) seemed different.
Instead of completely destroying you in a puddle of sweat and tears like most of the trends that have gone viral (for example, the 600 calorie 60 minute challenge), it is based entirely onwalk on a treadmill. ThedoIt sounds easier than it is, but the fact that it's available to pretty much everyone, and isn't governed by any dangerous parameters like calories burned or time, made it much more believable, in my eyes.
After seeking confirmation fromfour fiveambassador and celeb PTJenny Francis-Townsonthat it is (generally) safe, 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 training?
It was created by social media star Lauren Giraldo and follows a simple format:
- Set your treadmill's incline to 12%
- Set your speed to 3 mph
- Walk for 30 minutes
Giraldo is based in the US where treadmills use miles as their speed measurement. If you're in the UK, treadmill speed is measured in km/h, so you'll need to set your speed to 4.8.
You should also start with five minuteswarm upand five minutescool down, both without any slope.
What are the benefits of the 12-3-30 training?
Francis-Townson tells us that the trend definitely has its place. These are the main advantages of the trend:
- it islow impact
- It buildslower body strength
- It helps improve cardiovascular fitness
- It burns fat
- It strengthens the bones
- It improves balance
- It improves stamina
Is the 12-3-30 training safe?
Safety is why most TikTok workouts aren't quite my thing, but I figured 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 brisk pace—is an activity that is safe for most people to do without major problems or concerns," she says. "The fact that you're doing this steep uphill walk on onetreadmillis also much safer than doing it outside, on uneven ground, when you risk tripping.'
However, she had some words of caution. 'Walking up a very steep incline 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 may find that your lower back takes the brunt of the load, which can lead to problems and pain.
'If you are not used to repetitive walking or running, you may also find that you feel pain in your knees or ankles or calves due to overuse and the repetitive nature of this form of exercise.'
To make sure it doesn't come to nothing,she suggests working out once or twice a week. (Although I exercised every day for a week, knowing it was all in the name of research. It is neither wise nor sustainable to do the same.)
Plus, if you know you suffer from joint problems, ease up on your own incline—there are still rewards to be reaped from walking for 30 minutes, regardless of speed or incline.
Who is the 12-3-30 workout good for and who should avoid it?
- 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 movements
Should be approached with caution by:
- Beginners, as 'it's definitely a challenge and will put a lot of strain on your body,' says Francis-Townson
- Those who are already suffering withkneeor problems with the lower back
5 things I learned from working out 12-3-30 every day
1. Interactive training makes time go by so much faster
This one isn't really news, but it turns out that walking on a treadmill for 30 minutes isn't for me. The first two days were fine, but by day three I was really dreading the thought of another 12-3-30 workout. As Francis-Townson tells me, though, it's ideal for anyone looking to properly zone out while working up a sweat. No reps to count, no equipment to watch over between sets, nada.
Fortunately, Francis-Townson says it's actually more effective to do one or two 12-3-30 workouts per week along with other forms of exercise. "The moment it gets boring is the moment you start making excuses not to do it," she explains.
"There is no reason to do it every day. I will 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 movements can be harmful if overdone
Of course, it makes more sense for anyone with existing joint problems to hoot for time on the treadmill over burpees and the like – it can actually be beneficial to walk over rest, to build joint and bone strength – but knowing that the age-old adage 'too much of it good' applies.
I've never really experienced joint problems before, but about halfway through my fourth 12-3-30 workout, my ankles started to feel uncomfortable and sore. Francis-Townson says this may be becausetrainersI wore the same movement, or simply too much.
NikeAir Zoom Pegasus 38
"Your shoes may not be good for this kind of repetitive exercise," she says. "It could also be because you are simply using muscles in your ankles that you normally don't use very often. We have so many muscles and tendons that run from our legs to our feet and walking uphill for long periods of time will put this under a lot of pressure.'
I've done plenty of long runs (albeit not on consecutive days) in the Adidas Ultraboost shoes I wore during this challenge, so I'd attribute the pain to mainly doing the same movement, over and over again. Rest is key - more on this to come.
3. Walking is not necessarily 'easy'
If there's one thing to take away from this article, it's that the 12-3-30 workout isn't as easy as it looks. Of course, it's harder to do it for seven consecutive days like I did, but even the first session surprised me. I was sweating. Preferably on par withHIIT-level of sweating. I was also so hungry after every workout that I ate enough to feed a small village.
Francis-Townson assures me that this is to be expected: 'You'll definitely notice that you're hungrier because you're expending so much energy moving for so long without rest. You're also using your leg muscles to the limit and causing micro-tears in the same way you do in strength training, which means your body needs to repair itself, which requires energy in itself.'
The first session turned into onefasted cardiosession as I finished it before work at 7.30 (applause for me) and I find it difficult to eat so early in the morning, but from day two onwards I made sure to have a banana with the coffee for a little extra fuel. It certainly helped, but I nearly doubled my typical portion sizes of breakfast, lunch, and dinner.
What did I eat? I have been through the mill with eating problems and I am now convinced that food should be used for more than just fuel. It's there to be enjoyed, so to that end I ate what 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 packed in the protein to help my muscles recover.
4. Timing your workout correctly really helps
Always an optimist, I decided that on day three I would try oneweight sessionafter my 12-3-30 workout. Safe to say, it wasn't my best. I could barely do five reps with weights that I can normally slam 10-15 with.
Francis-Townson explains why: 'If you wantstrength trainingAlong with this type of training, I would advise you to do your resistance session first and then use the 12-3-30 workout to finish, or make sure you eat before your workout to give yourself that extra bit energy.'
I had pretty much nothing left in the tank after giving the 12-3-30 workout my all.
Francis-Townson adds that lack of hydration could also have played a role. '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 necessary, even with low movement
Experts claim that the 12-3-30 workout can help improve your endurance, but TBH, I felt the opposite—the workouts got harder as the week went on. Francis-Townson says this is simply because I didn't take anyrest days.
'It's intense training,' she begins. "And 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 endurance, it's important that you take rest days between each session.'
The result? Almost all of the problems I encountered come back to not resting. So if you're eager to try the 12-3-30 workout, it's imperative that you take the day off. As I said, I took up the challenge to gain some serious insight, not with the intention of continuing in the same vein.
'I trained 12-3-30 every day for a week, here's everything I learned'? ›
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.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.Is it good to do 12-3-30 every day? ›
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).How many days a week should you do 12-3-30? ›
Giraldo (the workout's creator) claims to do the 12-3-30 five days a week with no other exercise. While this is good for cardiovascular health, it misses out on the many benefits of strength training and overall mobility.What does 12-3-30 do to your body? ›
It builds lower body strength. It helps improve cardiovascular fitness. It burns fat. It strengthens bones.