The Viral 12-3-30 Workout Disappointed Me, But I Wasn’t Surprised

Everyone on TikTok is in love with the 12-3-30 workout, so, obviously, I had to try it. 

I am a sucker for trending workouts, and my toxic trait is believing every workout I see online will be easy. This one bit me in the butt HEAVILY this week. 

More than likely, you’ve seen the treadmill workout known as the 12-3-30 challenge online. Everyone is swearing by it, adding it into their daily fitness routine, and telling others about it. This seemed right up my alley, and I was certain it couldn’t be more challenging than the 75 Hard Challenge I tried the other week. 

I was wrong…kind of.

The 12-3-30 Workout

If you’ve not heard of the 12-3-30 workout before, it’s pretty self explanatory. The workout is treadmill-based, so it requires most people to get out of their homes and into the gyms — already a positive. It’s also built to be done every single day. Yes, you can still have your rest days, but I would say, once you get used to it, this workout could be seen as an active rest.

The concept is simple: set your treadmill’s incline to 12, set your pace to three miles per hour, and walk for 30 minutes. It will seem a little daunting, at first, but you’ll get used to the pace and incline quickly, and it’ll become natural to you. Maybe. 

The 12-3-30 challenge was created in 2019 by Lauren Giraldo, who posted it in a YouTube video. It didn’t get much traction until 2020, when everyone went online to workout, and it didn’t really ‘blow up’ until the last year when TikTok started romanticizing workouts and walking. Giraldo swears by this method because it helped her lose 30 pounds and keep it off for the past two years. Now that people are trying it and loving it, they’re swearing by it, too. 

I became familiar with this trend after I tried the 75 Hard Challenge. My TikTok algorithm is ridiculous and believes in me, way more than I do myself. My page was flooded with 12-3-30 videos of girls who ‘transformed their lives’ and dietitians debating the trend’s credibility. One of these videos caught my eye. 

Josh Nabbie, a personal trainer and diet coach, says that while he loves the 12-3-30, it’s not the groundbreaking cardio that people are saying it is, and it will most likely not transform you into a whole new person. In his video, he explains that most people will burn an average of 200 calories a day using this method, thus taking a few weeks of consistent workouts to lose just one pound.

While you shouldn’t work out only to burn calories, and the number you burn will never accurately reflect how effective the workout is, if you’re going into this challenge thinking that you’re going to transform in two days, you’ll be very disappointed. But if you want to train your body to gain more endurance or you want to create a more fitness-oriented routine, this method is great for you. 

Tyrone Brennand, founder of Be the Fittest, also chimed in about the trending workout. He admires how it promotes gym attendance and inspires people to get active. While he agrees that it’s a good workout, he also suggests that people add the workout into their pre-established routines instead of only using this method to train. 

Brennand says, “This workout cannot be solely relied upon to improve fitness and strength levels and should definitely not be the only workout you do. If you do the same workout repeatedly, you run the risk of plateauing. Ideally, you need to change the speed and intensity of these workouts — otherwise, you will not improve.”

Our bodies get used to what we put them through. If you add the 12-3-30 to your daily routine, it might be hard the first few days, but after a couple of weeks, you won’t even blink an eye during the workout. The 12-3-30 challenge isn’t the end-all-be-all for fitness, it’s just a great addition to your routine. 

While it might not be the golden standard for fitness, many people have fallen in love with going on walks because of this method. It’s just 30 minutes, so it’s a great time limit to get sweaty, but you also don’t have to dedicate your entire day to it. 

All in all, I’m excited to try this method to see how I feel and if my body transforms and grows in strength. If nothing else, I’m happy to take thirty minutes out of my day, every day, where I don’t have to do anything but walk up an imaginary hill and have an excuse to watch trash TV while I do it.

My Week

I was smug. I thought I would be fine. I’ve done workout challenges before and I work out for hours every, single day, no problem. And chilling on a treadmill for thirty minutes? This was going to be too easy.

I was wrong. 

As with every new Markey Tries It challenge, I try to add these lifestyle bits into my pre-established workout routines. I go for a walk every day around my neighborhood in which I usually end up circling my gym and turning around. This week, I kept my daily walk, but went into my gym to do the 12-3-30 in the middle of it. Was it a bit presumptuous and was I very sore after? Yes. But I did it. 

I was shocked how difficult this silly little walk was. I’m not a stranger to walking. I walk about six miles every morning, and then a mile and a half every afternoon. Not to mention the barre classes, yoga classes, strength training, and other workouts I have in my daily schedule. But I struggled so much during the first few days of this challenge that I started to doubt how fit I was.

The first few days, I sweated through every article of clothing I was wearing. I cannot tell you the last time I actually dripped sweat during a workout. 

I’m not sure if I can describe why I had such a hard time with this challenge. It wasn’t that I was out of shape or that the workout was too difficult. In all actuality, it’s the least intense workout I do all day, but it was also the one that forced me to keep a specific pace, incline, and time, while my other workouts are self-governed. 

When I started this challenge, I thought the 30 minutes would fly by, but some days, it seemed like an eternity. Walking in place for 30 minutes also isn’t the most interesting thing in the world. No matter how many podcasts, audiobooks, or TV shows I started, 30 minutes is 30 minutes. 

After about four days of this challenge, I got used to it and it wasn’t as difficult (and yes, I stopped sweating through all of my clothes). There were days when I was so sore, I debated going back to the gym, but I kept going because it was only a week. If you’re thinking about adding this practice into your daily routine, I’d suggest taking some days off during the first few weeks, but, I promise, your body will get used to it quickly. 

By the end of the week, I wasn’t in love with the workout, but I wasn’t sweating through my clothes either.

My Review

I have mixed emotions about this challenge. I never like workouts that require a certain amount of time every day. I believe you should work out when you feel like it and you should be in control of how long. If a workout requires you to do it every day in order to see results, I have to believe that’s a flaw in the workout. I, personally, found myself often dreading going to the gym, even though I love working out, walking, and watching TV — all of which this challenge had me doing. 

That being said, this workout wasn’t all bad. I felt sore, I sweated, and I feel like it was worth the three and a half hours I put into it this week. I agree with the experts, if you’re looking for something to add to your routine or you need motivation to get to the gym, this is a great workout for you. Also, if you have a treadmill or gym at home, this workout is probably much more accessible and, therefore, you’re more likely to do it. 

I don’t see myself going to the gym and trying the 12-3-30 again. It wasn’t that it didn’t make a difference, I just didn’t enjoy it. 

Some people do love this workout method and swear by it. It’s changed people’s lives and their relationship to fitness, and I love that. But personally, this was a miss for me.


Have you tried the 12-3-30 challenge? Do you love it? Comment below!

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