What's The "12-3-30" Workout—And Is It Good For Weight Loss?

The 12-3-30 is a popular treadmill-based workout made popular by social media star Lauren Giraldo. It became a fitness sensation after the influencer shared a 30-minute treadmill fitness routine online. 

Lauren describes the 12-3-30 fitness routine as a lower body workout focusing solely on walking on a treadmill. The three numbers represent different aspects of the workout features, i.e., walking at an incline level of 12 and a speed of 3 miles/hour for 30 minutes. The idea is to raise your heart rate without running using a moderately paced walking speed and an incline setting. 

Since some treadmills do not reach an incline level of 12 or use a different grading system, you may need to make an adjustment that suits you. But is the 12-3-30 workout good for weight loss? Read on to learn more about the workout and how it can help you achieve your weight loss goals. 

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Starting the 12-3-30 workout

First, it's important to state that the 12-3-30 exercise is not easy, especially for a first-timer. The incline is steep, and you might feel like the fitness session took more than 30 minutes. Therefore, if it is your first time doing the 12-3-30 exercise, you might want to establish a routine as you start. 

Start walking for 30 minutes at a flat or 0% incline to see whether your body can tolerate it. You can then progressively adjust the incline based on your fitness, health, and how you're feeling. In short, you don't have to start the exercise at 12-3-30. But once you fully get into this workout, here's the classic approach to the program:

  • Start with a five minutes brisk walk to warm up

  • Set the treadmill to an incline setting of 12% when you place your fit onto the machine. 

  • Increase the walking speed to three miles per hour

  • Walk for the next 30 minutes

  • Take a five-minute walk at a 0% gradient to cool down

The best way to start an effective 12-3-30 routine, especially if you are not physically active, is to work out between 2-3 times a week. 

Training tips to enhance your workout 

Below are three suggestions to boost your 12-3-30 fitness exercise:

  • Have a good and comfortable pair of walking shoes that support your feet properly

  • Avoid grabbing the treadmill while walking as it cuts down the gains of the workout. Instead, you may consider adjusting the speed or incline when you feel the need to hang on the machine. However, if your balance is not great or you feel the need to grab the treadmill for more safety, then make sure to do so. 

  • Lean more to your body when striding. You can propel yourself forward using the momentum of your arms.

Benefits of the 12-3-30 workout

When it comes to getting in shape, consistency is your greatest weapon. Like most exercise routines, you could see amazing gains if you remain consistent with your 12-3-30 exercise. Here are some of the benefits of the 12-3-30 fitness routine:

It helps in building some lower body muscles.

Resistance training¹ exercises are the most effective muscle-building activities. However, a beginner can increase strength and build some lower body muscles by performing the 12-3-30 workout. Walking at an incline significantly activates your knee, ankle flexors, glutes, quads, and hamstrings. It also improves joint health and daily functioning and builds stability in the leg muscles.

It improves health.

Any form of physical exercise can improve your health to some extent. Exercise has many benefits, including improving respiratory and heart functions, building bigger and stronger muscles, more stable joints, and stronger bones. Working out can also lower the risk of mental health problems such as anxiety and depression.

Regular exercise also enhances blood sugar regulation, improves hormone balance, and improves sleep quality. 

It is a low-impact alternative.

The 12-3-30 exercise is great if you are looking for a low-impact, joint-friendly cardiovascular workout. Lower impact training is great since they help reduce overuse injuries as you work out. If you have joint issues that hinder you from high-impact cardiovascular exercise, this workout can be quite helpful. It can get your heart rate up while avoiding exacerbating existing issues.

However, when you first start doing this exercise, you should do it a maximum of three times a week with resting days in between since performing this workout too often may cause stress on muscles, tendons, and joints that are typically not in use.

Eventually, after increasing your fitness levels and strengthening your muscles, you may start increasing the frequency of this exercise.

Is the 12-3-30 program good for weight loss?

Burning up energy via exercise helps maintain a healthy weight. When you walk on a steeper incline, you burn more calories than walking on a flat surface due to the extra effort your muscles need to resist gravity. Consequently, you'll burn more calories with each additional percentage incline grade.

A 12% incline leads to a significant calorie burn compared to what it would be when walking on a flat platform.

Further, building the 12-3-30 program into your fitness routine three to five days a week can elevate heart-pounding activity by 90 to 150 minutes. 200–300 minutes of exercise/week is ideal for weight loss and maintaining the achieved results afterward.

However, it won't be as successful in basing your weight loss and fitness plan fully on the 12-3-30 exercise. You should instead try to strike a balance with some strength training to work different muscles. 

Equally important is your diet. What and how much you eat can significantly impact your weight loss goals. A balanced diet is crucial to achieving results, as you will not lose weight doing the 12-3-30 program if you eat an unhealthy, high-calorie diet and burn less than what you eat. 

Are there risks associated with the 12-3-30 plan?

12-3-30 is a moderate-intensity form of exercise. However, walking on a steep incline can stress your lower back and other areas such as the knees and hamstrings. Also, sagittal plane motions like forward and backward can increase your risk of injury over time.

You should incorporate side to side, front to back, and twisting motions. Moving in all directions and dimensions helps create balance and stability to avoid overcompensating with one muscle or joint. 

You should also keep in mind the basic treadmill precautions for safe workouts. For example, attach the safety trap in case of falls. The strap pulls out a key to halt the machine if you fall, thus preventing bad injuries. 

Typically, the 12-3-30 fitness exercise is low risk for already active individuals. But there are some inherent risks with all forms of exercise, particularly if you have a previous or existing joint or muscle injury or a heart condition.

Be sure to involve your healthcare provider in your exercise choices and get their recommendation. 

If you have no injuries and are cleared for a basic workout by your doctor, the 12-3-30 workout should be safe.

The lowdown

Many things borne via social media may cause a gimmick feeling, and 12-3-30 is not an exception. But the workout offers true fitness benefits, including helping lose weight, especially when combined with other healthy lifestyle habits. However, like with most workout routines, you should take the exercise slow when you start and build endurance progressively. Also, speak to your healthcare provider about your choice and get their opinion and recommendations.

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