I tried the viral 12-3-30 workout for a month

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  • Yes indeed.

    Quick question: if you haven’t heard of the 12-3-30 session, where have you been? The workout – which went viral on TikTok after being coined by content creator Lauren Giraldo – went viral earlier this year and currently has 2.7 million likes and 12.6 million views.

    When it popped up on my feed I was intrigued. The routine looked simple and involved walking on a treadmill at the gym for 30 minutes. I’m normally skeptical when it comes to celebrity workouts or online trends – I’d rather try routines or sweat sessions recommended by qualified professionals – but was keen to try this.

    It sounded fun, and since there are so many benefits to walking, I decided to try it out for a month. Keep scrolling for my take and professional insights from PureGym personal trainers Josh Hardman and Laura Eaton.

    E-commerce writer Grace Lindsay works out 12-3-30 at the gym

    What is the 12-3-30 workout?

    As above, the workout is pretty simple – all you need is a good sports bra, a treadmill and a good pair of trainers. Ready? Giraldo explains that all you have to do from there is set your treadmill to an incline of twelve, change the speed to 3 km/h and walk for 30 minutes.

    Giraldo doesn’t warm up before his session, but I made sure too – even a few minutes of dynamic stretching before and after you sweat can reduce the risk of injury, according to the NHS website.

    When she talks about the workout in her video, Giraldo explains that it’s the workout that makes her enjoy the gym—hence why, as someone who often feels the same way, I was sold. “I used to be so intimidated by the gym and it wasn’t motivating. Now I go, I do this one thing and I can feel good about myself,” she says.

    @laurengiraldoGame changer honestly♬ original sound – Lauren Giraldo

    How often did I do the workout on 12-3-30?

    Good question. Over the course of the month I aimed for two to three sessions of exercise a week – again the NHS recommended amount of exercise a week.

    Giraldo says she aims for five days a week in her video, but I wanted to avoid overtraining. Not only would I have found five times a week difficult to fit into my work schedule, I also wanted to prioritize rest days to ensure my muscles had time to recover (no delayed onset muscle soreness, over here).

    How did I find the training on 12-3-30?

    After trying it for four weeks, I have mixed feelings. Before I started, I was foolish enough to think that training would be easy. It works, right? As someone who loves nothing more than a sweaty spin class or an intense HIIT session, walking for 30 minutes sounded like a piece of cake. How wrong I was.

    Sure, for the first five to ten minutes it seemed pretty doable, but by the fifteen minute mark I was sweating just as much as I would during, say, a run or class.

    Just because it’s a low-impact form of cardio doesn’t mean it won’t be a hard workout—you’re actually walking on an incline for quite some time.

    Pros: I really sweated and my heart rate went up. Likewise, it was easy – sometimes, after a super busy day where all I wanted to do was switch off, I didn’t even have to think about my workout. All I had to do was jump on the treadmill for 30 minutes. Sometimes I listened to music, sometimes I watched a half-hour series on Netflix, and often I just walked.

    Cons: I started to find it quite difficult to do the same workout over and over for such a long period of time. As mentioned above, I’m a big fan of HIIT workouts – they’re not repetitive and so it’s hard to get bored, whereas sometimes with 12-3-30 I found myself wanting to stop because I was just doing the same movement over and over again for half an hour.

    Overall, it’s definitely a workout I’ll continue to do, but I’d like to mix it up with strength training, gym sessions, and other forms of exercise as well. I want to keep things exciting.

    What gear do you need for 12-3-30?

    A good pair of trainers is key when it comes to this type of training. I only wore one pair all month, and they were the Saucony Guide 15 trainers.

    Not only did I love the color for summer, but they literally made me feel like I was walking on air. As an ecommerce writer who tests products for a living, I would recommend.

    Women’s guide 15 trainers, £130 | Saucony
    The redesigned Guide 15 provides a comfort-first feel that takes your run (or walk) to new heights. Built with softer cushioning and a cushioned sock liner, when I tested them I could feel them springier – they really have more foam and less weight than other trainers I’ve tried.

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    Alongside a good pair of trainers, your best gym leggings and a supportive sports bra should do the trick. If you don’t feel like going to the gym, why not invest in a treadmill so you can try it out at home?

    JTX Sprint-3 Electric Treadmill, was £639 now SEK 599 | JTX Fitness
    This treadmill is small but mighty, perfect for home workouts. It comes with everything you need, from a fully automatic recline, a 5-inch high-visibility backlit display to keep track of your workout, and a tablet holder, MP3 jack and speakers so you can listen to music.

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    What are the benefits of 12-3-30?

    While I personally found this workout to help improve my fitness, as well as my mental health, I wanted to get a professional opinion on the benefits—since Giraldo isn’t a qualified PT after all (despite thousands jumping on the trend and trying her training, including myself).

    Laura Eaton, a personal trainer from PureGym, shared that 12-2-30 is a memorable program because it requires minimal setup time and is short enough that most people could easily fit it into their day. “Most gyms will always have a treadmill available, which reduces the risk of not getting in your workout because others are using the equipment,” she adds. Likewise, she adds, you’ll reduce your risk of gym anxiety (more common than you think) if you go into the gym with a plan.

    After doing it for a month I definitely felt my confidence in the gym had improved – I was comfortable in the space and felt like I could crush any workout there (within reason). But how can it affect your physical health?

    “Walking is a great cardiovascular activity, and adding the incline will get your heart rate up, improving both your cardiovascular health and endurance,” Eaton explained. “This exercise is also much gentler on the joints than running or jogging, making this an excellent choice for different age groups and fitness levels.”

    Is the 12-3-30 workout safe?

    Although it seems relatively simple, it is always important to clarify that a workout is safe before trying it yourself. Eaton’s response? As it is largely low-impact walking, it is safe. But she advises familiarizing yourself with safety features — like the emergency stop accord — before training.

    Also, best tip: don’t hold onto the sides of the treadmill while exercising because you could hurt yourself (plus it means your muscles are actually cheating). If you feel you need to do this, she encourages you to lower the incline slightly.

    Who should avoid exercising on 12-3-30?

    Remember: even though a workout may be safe, it doesn’t mean it’s right for everyone. We always recommend checking in with your doctor or a personal trainer before trying a new routine. It doesn’t have to cost the earth—just take five minutes the next time you’re at your local gym to check in with the PT on shift. After all, that’s what they’re hired for.

    For 12-3-30, both experts cautioned those with lower back pain or extremely tight calves to weigh. “Those who also suffer from plantar fasciitis should avoid it, as the increased pressure on the feet can create small tears in the connective tissue,” adds Eaton.

    Are TikTok Fitness Trends Causing More Harm Than Good?

    So, this particular TikTok trend was actually a good workout — but that doesn’t mean everyone is. You’ve probably seen ridiculous workouts posted on social media, all for the sake of likes – so how do you weed out the ones that are worth your time from the ones that, well, aren’t?

    Good question – and one I picked PT’s brains about too. While they said these trends can be positive, as they encourage people to get active and move more, many of them have been created by amateurs with no formal training or qualifications.

    Similarly, they are often focused solely on weight loss, rather than improving your fitness or maintaining your current health.

    Josh Hardman, a personal trainer from PureGymsaid: “Many of them cause more harm than good – especially this one. There is nothing special about this workout – working out on 12-3-30 is exactly the same as going for a walk outside, and the latter will probably be better for your mental health.”

    Eaton agrees, adding that her concern is that these videos can sometimes misinform viewers and make planning workouts seem confusing — conflicting opinions are rife on the platform. “The goal should be to make exercise accessible to everyone – you should work to find exercises that are challenging but also fun.”

    We agree with both PTs – while some online exercise trends can be risky, it’s best to exercise in a way that works for you. Will you give it a shot?

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