For most people, starting to exercise can be a daunting task. That's how social media personality and content creator Lauren Giraldo felt when she decided to focus more on her health in 2017. Most popular online workouts looked intimidating, and navigating the hundreds of gym machines was overwhelming for Giraldo. But she found herself drawn to the treadmills because they were easy to use with the ability to go at her own pace.
Like most, Giraldo quickly learned running on the machine was too hard for her at her current fitness level. So she started experimenting with the settings, eventually settling on a 12 percent incline – the equivalent of a steep hill – and walking at a speed of three miles an hour for 30 minutes.
She started promoting the workout she calls "12, 3, 30" on YouTube, where she has more than 1 million subscribers. In a viral TikTok last month that received more than 2.5 million likes, Giraldo credited the routine. She said she does about five times a week, helping her become active and maintain her improved physical and mental health.
Taking a deeper dive into the effectiveness of "12, 3, 30," it is important for exercisers to listen to their bodies, protect themselves against potential injuries, and be realistic about results.
The workout appears to resonate with many viewers, who have posted on social media about adding the workout to their routines because it is realistic and doesn't require much fitness knowledge.
Walking is the most underrated form of exercise out there. It will not be praised on the cover of fitness and health magazines, but it can do wonders for your body composition, heart health, overall fitness, and mental health when done consistently.
In a world full of HIT sessions, CrossFit workouts, and aggressive viral Instagram workouts, most people think that the more intense the session the better. The "12, 3, 30" workout shows that walking, an overlooked piece of the fitness puzzle, is extremely effective and teaches fitness enthusiasts a valuable lesson. Not every workout needs to be done at 100% intensity.
Considerations & Suggestions
But just like every other form of exercise, progression is critical. For the average person starting out, a 12 percent incline is really high, and 30 minutes can be a long time. The workout can be a useful part of an overall exercise program but with the caveat that you have to build up to it. Given its intensity, the workout may not be suitable for older people or those who are overweight and have chronic conditions.
Starting at a lower incline and walking for a shorter period of time is your best bet. Just as Giraldo started out, experiment at your own pace and create a workout that you can complete with confidence. For example, after you can complete 10 minutes of walking at a 5 percent incline consistently for 2-3 times a week, try to increase the total time to 15 minutes and 8 percent incline. Increasing the overall time and incline gradually throughout several weeks at a time will help you gain confidence, stamina, and resiliency — not to mention help build your body's ability to prevent injury.
Additionally, cardiovascular health is only one piece of the puzzle for improving fitness and health. Incorporating various exercise forms into your routine, such as strength training, will help fill in the missing gaps and help you build lean muscle. Your body will experience a plateau level in the changes you see occur, not just with this type of workout, but any activity that is the same thing over a long time. You have to vary it because the body is so adaptive.
Doing the same intensity of exercise frequently could also become boring or result in overuse injuries such as Achilles tendinitis, plantar fasciitis, knee pain, or shin splints. You are using the same joints and muscles and tendons repeatedly when walking on an incline. Completing 1-3 focused cardiovascular workouts in addition to 1-3 strength training workouts each week will help you build well-rounded fitness while preventing these common overuse injuries. To reduce the risk of injury during an incline treadmill workout, you should wear proper shoes, drink water, and incorporate foam rolling before and after the workout. Be sure to stretch and foam roll the leg muscles likely to feel the most strain, such as calves, Achilles, hamstrings, glutes, quads, and hips.
If you don't have a treadmill, you can get a similar cardiovascular effect through interval training. Those looking to avoid running, try walking up outdoor inclines such as hills or stairs or walking with a weighted backpack. Whatever the workout is, consistency is key. People need to find exercises they enjoy and can do regularly.