Erica Digap / Jun 04

Why The Viral 12-3-30 Treadmill Routine Works 

Erica Digap / Jun 04

No matter what side of FitnessTok you may be in, you have no doubt come across the 12-3-30 treadmill routine again and again. From fitness influencers to people just trying to get healthy, the 12-3-30 has been garnering up quite the reputation as a power-packed exercise routine that really lets you get closer to your goals. 

But what’s up with it — and, more importantly, does the 12-3-30 treadmill routine work?  

Here’s everything you need to know about the super-viral 12-3-30 treadmill routine. The key takeaways: it’s simple, but it’s definitely not easy —  and if you do it consistently enough, you can absolutely get a killer and effective workout in. 

What is the 12-3-30 treadmill routine? 

The treadmill routine is a very simple form of exercise that requires nothing but a good pair of walking shoes and a treadmill that can adjust its incline level. To do it, all you need to do is set your treadmill so that you are at a: 

This simple but effective setup can help you get a great sweat on and burn a ton of calories in the process. 

Its name was first coined the 12-3-30 by influencer Lauren Giraldo, who started the super-viral fitness craze in late 2020. And while her content has allowed it to skyrocket into the popularity it enjoys now, the exercise itself is not new. Treadmill incline workouts have been a staple cardio workout among weightlifters, athletes, and even bodybuilders for a long time. 

Benefits of the 12-3-30

A time-efficient exercise for weight loss 

The main reason that the 12-3-30 has skyrocketed in popularity is that it’s a great way to get an intense cardio workout in a relatively short period of time. In other words, it’s a great exercise to incorporate into your routine if you’re trying to lose weight or cut body fat. 

In order to lose fat tissue, you need to be at a calorie deficit — in other words, eating fewer calories than your body uses for energy during the day. When you’re in this state, your body has to find another source of energy for power. So it turns to your fat tissue, which is where your body stores its extra calories when they aren’t being used. 

The 12-3-30 allows you to burn more calories than walking at a flat grade alone since it’s at a steep incline, which challenges your entire body differently. On average, a 150-pound person would burn approximately 289 calories during a single 12-3-30 workout, while walking without any incline at the same pace would only burn about 200 calories. 

A good complement for strength training

If you’re trying to cut (in other words, lose some fat while maintaining your muscle), the 12-3-30 is an excellent option here as well. 

Even though it’s primarily a cardio routine, the 12-3-30 is definitely working your muscles too. More specifically, incline walking activates your glutes and your quads. This is great news if you’re trying to build your leg muscles while cutting fat! 

Low(ish) impact

12-3-30 is also a godsend for anyone who can’t — or won’t — do traditional cardio workouts like running and jogging. These higher-intensity aerobic exercises are a standby for people looking to burn calories since they require so much exertion, but they can also be really difficult to do. They also aren’t great options for people who suffer from joint pain since the repeated impact can cause issues. 

So if you suffer from joint and knee pain during the jarring movements in running, the 12-3-30 is a great in-between. It’s more intense than simply walking on a flat surface, but it also doesn’t require those strenuous (and sometimes painful) movements that running and jogging do.  It also is suitable for people of all fitness levels, though total beginners will probably find it very challenging at first. (With that said: incline walking can still be pretty taxing on your joints especially after thirty minutes, so take it slow at first until you find your rhythm.) 

Great for your cardiovascular health

Finally, we can’t overlook how great cardio of any kind is for your heart health! The American Heart Association recommends that adults get at least 150 minutes of moderate intensity activity every week. This can be broken down into five 12-3-30 seshes, or you can mix in some higher-intensity activities like HIIT or running on different days. 

Tips for doing the 12-3-30

Ready to get your sweat on? Here are some tips for making the most out of your time on the treadmill. 

Focus on form 

A common mistake to avoid is leaning too hard on the handles, which can cancel out many of the benefits that you get from the exercise to begin with. For better results, avoid holding onto the handles whenever possible. If you need the support to keep you balanced, try gently making contact with the front handle with just your fingertips. 

Bring something to keep your mind occupied. 

30 minutes is a long time …. and when you’re doing something grueling like walking uphill, it can seem even longer. Bring something to keep your mind distracted during the workout, especially if you find that cardio is not your strongest suit. Play your most upbeat playlist, put your favorite show on, or get ready to dive into that podcast you’ve been meaning to listen to.  

Don’t forget to factor in your diet.

The old adage “you can’t out-exercise a bad diet” is especially important when it comes to cardio-heavy workouts that you’re doing in order to lose weight. Ultimately, cutting fat comes down to how many calories you’re eating versus burning. The couple hundred calories that you may burn on average from a 12-3-30 workout can be easily overshadowed by a couple of extra snacks or bigger meal portions. 


You’re going to be sweating—a lot. So make sure to drink plenty of water to make up for it! Keeping a LARQ Bottle Filtered nearby makes it easy to sip on the straw, or if you’re tired of washing your bottle all the time, the Bottle PureVis is a great option that prevents the dreaded stink. Having these reusable water bottles on hand during your 12-3-30 workout and throughout the day can remind you to replenish those fluids frequently. 

Remember: it’s a good workout, not a shortcut.

Finally, it’s important to stay realistic about your expectations. Despite its massive popularity on social media, and the many viral videos you may have seen of fitness creators reaching their goals by incorporating it into their fitness routine, 12-3-30 is a workout just like any other. It’s a lot of work and it’s really not an easy form of exercise. However, with consistency, it can massively pay off! Don’t get discouraged if you don’t see progress in the first week — as is true with all workouts, consistency pays off. 

Final Thoughts

The 12-3-30 is a great workout for burning calories, building defined leg muscles, and getting a sweat on. But it’s not a miracle shortcut by any means, despite its super-viral popularity. Get ready to work hard and stick with it for those results!