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Home/Blog/12-3-30 Workout Benefits and How to Do It

12-3-30 Workout Benefits and How to Do It

By Jill Levy

June 7, 2023

12-3-30 workout benefits

Do you dread going to the gym and doing “cardio” exercises because they feel a bit stale? Then it’s time to switch things up and try something new and challenging. 

While the “12-3-30” workout — which involves steep incline walking — is low impact and performed at a moderate pace, it's still an intense workout that can lead to noticeable improvements in your body composition and stamina. Indeed, looking for new ways to lose weight or maintain a healthy weight? This workout can help.

The best part? You can complete a nearly full-body workout in just 30 minutes.

Is a half-hour walking workout enough to tone up? And does incline walking burn fat or build muscle? Let’s find out below.

What Is the 12-3-30 Workout?

The 12-3-30 workout is an incline walking workout that involves setting your treadmill incline to 12 percent and walking at a moderate speed of three miles per hour for 30 minutes. It was created by health and beauty influencer Lauren Giraldo and became popular due to being widely shared on YouTube and TikTok.

Is 12-3-30 enough of a workout? The World Health Organization recommends adults get at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity (or 75 minutes of vigorous-intensity) exercise each week, which breaks down to about 30 minutes per day. 

This means that if you do the 12-3-30 workout several times per week (up to five times) and mix in other workouts like muscle-strengthening activities, yoga, cycling, etc., then you’d be meeting these guidelines.

Most experts recommend completing the 12-3-30 workout about 1–3 times per week, alternating in other types of exercises for your upper body and core.

How to Do the 12-3-30 Workout

The directions are relatively simple to do the 12-3-30 workout:

1. Set your treadmill to a steep incline of 12%.

2. Walk at a moderate speed of 3mph (or 4.8 kph).

3. Walking “uphill” for 30 minutes.

If you’ve never tried to walk at an incline of 12 percent, it’s difficult! A 12 percent incline on a treadmill is a fairly steep uphill grade, forcing your lower body to be challenged against the effects of gravity. Most standard treadmills can adjust from a 0 percent incline (flat) up to around 10–15 percent, so a 12 percent incline would be towards the higher end of this range.

Can you do the 12-3-30 workout outside? Frankly, it's very difficult to make it work outside unless you have access to a hiking trail with a steady incline. Even then, it's often more undulating and is a different type of workout.

Before beginning the 30-minute workout, warm up by walking at a flat or slightly elevated incline for a few minutes to prepare your muscles.

Who Should Use the 12-3-30 Workout? 

The 12-3-30 workout can benefit a wide range of people, considering it helps support muscle strength, a healthy body composition, balance, mobility and stability. People for whom this type of workout is most appropriate include those who want to:

  • Build lower body strength, such as in the legs and butt

  • Potentially lose weight or tone up by decreasing body fat

  • Build endurance and stamina

  • Support heart health

  • Reap the mental health benefits of aerobic exercise, which can include promoting a positive mindset and outlook

Keep in mind that if your goal is to maintain general health, 30 minutes of moderate exercise, including incline walking on a treadmill each day, should be sufficient to keep you in good physical shape.

However, if you have specific fitness goals — such as muscle gain or building endurance, for example — then you may need more, different types or more intense forms of exercise than this workout. 

Alternative Ways to Do the Workout

Although the 12-3-30 workout is meant to include uphill walking at a moderate pace (3 mph), it’s possible to do the workout if you prefer to run or to walk slower. You could potentially include sprints in the workout, such as jogging uphill for 30 to 60 seconds at a time, or walk at about 2mph if this better suits your goals and abilities. 

Additionally, a 12 percent incline may be too much for some people to handle; therefore, a lower incline of about 5 percent to 10 percent may be a good alternative option.

Benefits of the 12-3-30 Workout

What is the 12-3-30 workout good for? Here are the main benefits of this type of exercise:

1. Burns Calories

Does 12-3-30 actually burn fat? There’s a good chance it can. Incline walking, or walking uphill, has several advantages over walking on a flat surface — mainly that it’s more challenging and, therefore, can burn more calories than flat-surface walking.

Walking uphill increases the intensity of the workout and forces your body to expend more energy, leading to a higher calorie burn.

How many calories does the 12-3-30 burn? The number of calories burned during any type of exercise depends on your weight, metabolic rate, duration of exercise and the intensity of the exercise.

On average, walking at a moderate pace (3 mph) on a steep incline will burn between 120 and 220 calories in 30 minutes (for a person who’s about 160 pounds). Larger people will burn more calories than smaller people.

2. Builds Muscle Mass and Strength

Is Incline walking good for losing weight? Because it burns calories and helps tone your muscles, it can support your metabolism and potentially lead to weight loss. Incline walking engages more muscles in your legs and glutes than flat-surface walking. This is great for building strength over time.

Another benefit of incline walking is that it can have an “afterburn effect,” in which your muscles keep using extra energy to recover even after your workout is over. This can help to stoke your metabolism and contribute to a healthy body composition.

3. Can Help Improve Cardiovascular Health and Fitness

Incline walking is a form of cardio or aerobic exercise that increases your heart rate, improving your cardiovascular fitness and heart health. As mentioned above, it counts towards your weekly goal of 150 minutes of moderate exercise, which is known to support cardiovascular health.

4. Helps Boost Balance and Stability

By increasing muscle strength and coordination in your core and lower body, uphill walking can assist in balance, stability and coordination.

If you’re an athlete or do other forms of exercise or sports, you’ll likely notice that you generally feel more mobile and stable when you do the 12-3-30 workout consistently.

5.  Helps Maintain Bone Density

Weight-bearing exercises like walking can help maintain or even possibly improve bone density and strength.

6. Can Lift Your Mindset and Energy

It’s important to exercise for more than just the physical benefits. Exercise also enhances your outlook and positivity, plus it can help you sleep more soundly and gain energy.

Like all forms of exercise, incline walking can help reduce stress and boost overall mental well-being and confidence.

Precautions

Before starting any new exercise program, it's important to talk to your healthcare provider, especially if you have any underlying health conditions or injuries. If you’re new to exercising in general or walking on a treadmill, start slow and build your way up to the 12-3-30 model.

Remember to wear sturdy sneakers and to listen to your body. If something hurts or doesn’t feel right, take a break and give your body time to rest.

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