By Jack Franks
Summer is coming.
Listen closely, and you can hear the subtle sound of cardio equipment awakening from hibernation, with desperate holiday-goers clambering to defy the odds and secure a body worthy of topless poolside retreats and champagne-soaked parties.
With the clock ticking, people search for rapid results wherever they can find the information. However, they are likely to be inundated with a stream of misinformation and mythical methods.
One such nugget that has been around since 2019 – but continues to go through waves of viral trends – is the ‘12-3-30’ treadmill routine, a soothingly straightforward concept originating from social media influencer Lauren Giraldo.
While the dreaded treadmill may cause some to cower away in fear, no running is involved here. Instead, millions use an incline walking routine to improve their cardiovascular fitness and burn body fat.
As of May 2023, the #12330 trend on TikTok has over 370 million views and is universally praised for its effectiveness in losing weight and building muscle-strengthening joints.
Looking to release your six-pack from its fat-covered cell? It’s time to conquer the ‘dreadmill’ and get summer ready.
What is the 12-3-30 workout?
“I used to be so intimidated by the gym, and it wasn’t motivating,” Giraldo explained in her 37-second TikTok video in November 2020. “But now I go, I do this one thing, and I can feel good about myself.” The 12-3-30 workout, Giraldo said, helped her lose 30 pounds.
@laurengiraldoGame changer honestly♬ original sound – Lauren Giraldo
“I’m not a runner, and running on the treadmill was not working for me,” Giraldo states.
“I started playing around with the settings, and at the time, my gym’s treadmill had 12 inclines as the max. The three miles per hour felt right, like walking, and my grandma had always told me that 30 minutes of exercise a day was all you needed.
“That’s how the combination started.”
On the face of it, the 12-2-30 treadmill workout is quite simple, though not necessarily easy, and will certainly prove a test for those with a sound cardiovascular fitness level.
|Set the treadmill’s incline to 12%, and the speed to 3.0 miles per hour, and then walk for 30 minutes, eventually accumulating in walking 1.5 miles.|
What may start as a walk in the non-literal park will quickly ascend into a sweat-filled excursion featuring heavy breaths and screaming legs.
During the 30 minutes, you can listen to your favorite podcast, watch a Netflix show, or tune into an audiobook as you stroll, all courtesy of the routine’s low-impact intensity.
If you’re feeling adventurous, why not take a work call during your stint uphill?
Make sure to preserve enough air to get your points across, though!
All you’ll need to get started is access to a treadmill, a spare half an hour, and a pair of running shoes to get started.
To do the 12-3-30 treadmill workout, you should:
- Warm up with a brisk walk for five minutes
- Turn the incline on the treadmill to 12
- Turn the speed to 3 mph (4.8 km h)
- Walk for 30 minutes
- Cool down with five minutes of walking on the treadmill at 0 inclines.
Unlike HIIT treadmill workouts, there are no intervals or changes of pace, and you move at one speed at one incline level for the whole workout.
While it may not be easy for many people, especially after the first 10 minutes, three miles per hour is an average walking pace on a flat surface, so it is an achievable goal for most.
Although, of course, it all depends on what level of fitness you start with. Don’t beat yourself up if your first attempt doesn’t go as planned.
What are the benefits of 12-3-30?
Where do we start?
The 12-3-30 workout routine offers a range of health and fitness benefits that can sprout if done consistently.
Firstly, this routine builds muscle, as does any form of walking, as it activates the muscles in the lower body and core (as long as you’re not holding onto the treadmill handrails).
Because the 12/3/30 workout involves incline walking up a 12% grade, such a steep incline significantly increases the muscular demand on the glutes, calves, and hamstrings.
One of the primary benefits is the aerobic impact, with this type of exercise important for optimal health and reducing the risk of diseases like hypertension, obesity, heart disease, type 2 diabetes, and certain cancers.
Depending on your fitness level, the 12-3-30 treadmill workout will count towards your weekly minutes for either moderate-intensity or vigorous-intensity exercise.
According to the American College of Sports Medicine, the moderate-intensity cardio zone falls between 64-76% of your maximum heart rate, while vigorous cardio would be at an effort level at or above 77% of your maximum heart rate.
If the 12-3-30 workout increases your heart rate into the moderate-intensity physical activity zone, doing the workout five days per week will help you reach the guidelines for physical activity. In contrast, you will only need to do it three times per week if it’s a vigorous activity for you.
Compared to something like running or jumping rope, the 12-3-30 workout is much easier on the joints while still being a fantastic cardio workout., making it the perfect low-impact and high-intensity routine.
It also burns calories more effectively than walking on level ground because the metabolic cost of incline walking is significantly higher.
For example, studies suggest that compared to walking on flat land, walking at a 5% grade increases the energy cost of walking by 17% at a 5% incline. In comparison, a 10% incline boosts caloric expenditure by a whopping 32%.
“You have to be in pretty decent shape to go at that pace and that incline for 30 minutes,” exercise physiologist DeAnne Davis Brooks, EdD, associate professor in the department of kinesiology at the University of North Carolina Greensboro and USATF Level 1-track coach.
Whilst the routine promotes weight loss, the 12-3-30 workout could be part of a healthy program incorporating other exercise methods. Aim to get in a caloric deficit simultaneously if you want to lose weight.
The growing LISS trend
Move over HIIT; there’s a new trend in town. Incline walking is an excellent example of LISS training, one of the most effective ways to burn fat per calorie and one method which has gained significant notoriety in 2023.
Low-intensity, steady-state training is a new, slower-paced workout wave taking over that could do wonders for both your physical and mental health—especially if the “go-hard-or-go-home” mentality has never really been your vibe.
While the idea isn’t exactly new—it was a huge hit among bodybuilders in the 1960s and ’70s, go figure—it’s enjoying a resurgence in popularity, as fitness pros are always on the quest to optimize exercise training and examine the what, how, and why behind the best workouts.
LISS is an approach to cardio training that’s the total opposite of HIIT. Instead of blasting through short bursts of vigorous activity before panting through a relative rest interval, LISS cardio involves longer bouts of continuous exercise at a lower intensity or slower pace.
It’s about building your aerobic endurance and overall body conditioning rather than all-out power, speed, and metabolic stoking.
LISS is for everyone, whether you’re a newbie looking to jump on the fitness bandwagon or a pro aiming to create a more balanced and lighter program, taking a backseat to HIIT in many training programs as it’s the tortoise to HIIT’s hare.
Like HIIT, LISS can help you burn fat, build endurance, and increase exercise capacity—but the time you need to spend doing it to achieve those results is typically much longer.
There’s also the engagement factor. Running, pedaling, or swimming for more than a few minutes can feel interminable for some people.
One recent LISS trend is ‘soft hiking’, another way to get outside and explore the great outdoors, get some steps in and soak up all that Mother Nature has to offer without pushing yourself in a way that feels grueling.
One of the reasons that soft hiking is gaining popularity is because it is accessible to people of all fitness levels. Unlike other forms of exercise, such as running or high-intensity interval training, soft hiking allows individuals to get a workout without putting too much strain on their bodies whilst getting to enjoy nature at the same time.