I Tried the Viral 12-3-30 TikTok Workout, and This Is What Happened to My Body


Welcome to I Tried It Month, where we'll be publishing a new fashion, beauty, or wellness article every day in January that features a first-person account of shaking up an old habit, pushing beyond a comfort zone, or simply trying something new. Follow along for 31 days of storytelling, including everything from going without a cell phone for 40 days to trying the polarizing low-rise pant trend.

It's no secret that I'm not a fan of exercising. While I've gone through phases where I love to work out, I would much rather sit on my couch and binge-watch the latest Netflix show rather than squeeze into leggings and hop on an indoor cycling bike for 30 minutes. That being said, I do love the feeling I get after a good workout, and since we just flipped the page to a new year (hello, 2023, and New Year's resolutions), I decided to give this workout thing another chance.

Since all my friends have their own workout regimen, I decided to try one out rather than fall back into the free-for-all 30-minute cardio workout. But with so many routines out there, I wasn't sure which one to pick. Enter TikTok. During one night of my endless three-hour scrolling sessions, I happened upon a video from Lauren Giraldo showcasing the 12-3-30 workout.


(Image credit: Courtesy of Samantha Pouls)

For those who haven't seen the video, the viral workout trend appears to be pretty simple. All you do is set the treadmill to an incline of 12 and walk at a speed of 3 miles per hour for 30 minutes. Giraldo said the workout helped her not be intimidated by the gym and also resulted in her feeling better about herself. With my mind set on making this the year of the gym, I set out to try the 12-3-30 trend for 30 days.

Starting the Challenge


(Image credit: Courtesy of Samantha Pouls)

Day one was both exciting and intimidating. I couldn't wait to put on my cute gym set, but I was worried about hating the workout. My apartment building doesn't have a gym, so I put on my ALO set after work and headed to my parents' complex. I pulled the glass door open, headed inside, and found the row of treadmills.

Prior to starting this challenge, I hadn't worked out in a few weeks, so I decided to do a short five-minute walking warmup. FYI, this is not part of the trend, but if your legs feel a little stiff from sitting at a desk all day (or working remotely from your couch), this is a great way to wake them up.

After my five-minute warm-up, I was feeling good and eagerly pressed the button to increase the speed and incline. I'm not going to lie—it was hard. When the incline got to level five, I started feeling the pull in my legs, and by the time I got to level 10, I dreaded increasing it more. But a deal is a deal, so I pushed the incline up two more steps until it reached 12.

The speed didn't feel painfully challenging to me, but I'm a fast walker in general. After about three minutes at an incline of 12, I wanted to press stop and go home. When I reached the 10-minute mark, the workout began to feel a little easier, so with determination in my mind and Drake playing through my AirPods, I kept going until I reached 30 minutes.

By the time I finally pressed stop, I was drenched (and I mean drenched) in sweat. This was clearly not going to be an easy task. That night I was exhausted. Yet I ended up having one of the best nights of sleep I'd had in a while.

According to The Sleep Foundation, exercise is a wonderful way to improve sleep. They state that "moderate-to-vigorous exercise can increase sleep quality for adults by reducing sleep onset—or the time it takes to fall asleep." The Sleep Foundation also states that regular exercise can lessen the amount of time people lie awake at night and reduce sleepiness during the day.


(Image credit: Courtesy of Samantha Pouls)

The next day, my body was definitely feeling it. My legs felt like I had climbed 50 flights of stairs, and I had a hard time finding a comfortable position to sit in. The only thing that helped was stretching and rolling out my legs. I highly recommend investing in a foam roller if you're thinking about trying this challenge. While it was painful to roll my legs out, the relief I felt later made it all worth it.

The second day of the routine was easier, but not by much. My body seemed to dread the workout, and this time, I didn't bother to warm up. I did notice I wasn't breathing as hard during the cardio, and the first five minutes didn't feel as bad.

By the fourth morning, my legs were beginning to get used to the harsh incline and weren't as sore. I also noticed I began to feel more energetic throughout the day. Whereas I normally fell into the after-lunch slump, my energy remained steady, and I was actually looking forward to going to the gym.

What Happened During the Challenge


(Image credit: Courtesy of Samantha Pouls)

As the days went on, the workout got easier, but there were definitely days I didn't want to work out, and the 30 minutes seemed to drag on forever. That said, by day five, I started having days where I was actually excited to go to the gym.

By day eight, I started noticing a difference in my body. Although I didn't change my diet, I noticed my legs and waist were more toned, and I wasn't struggling as much to make it through the 30 minutes. By day 15, I noticed that my skin was starting to look more glowy, and some of the blemishes around my chin were beginning to clear up.

According to an Insider interview with dermatologist Marisa Garshick, MD, FAAD, working out does have good benefits for the skin. "Exercise, by getting the heart rate up and improving blood circulation, can help to deliver oxygen and nutrients to the skin which keeps the skin healthy, promotes collagen production, and promotes new skin cells which keep the skin looking glowing and is also helpful for anti-aging," she says.


(Image credit: Crissy Mitchell/Stocksy)

Some negative thoughts I experienced centered around the fact that I had to wash my hair more frequently and do the laundry all the time in order to have gym clothes. There were also days when I dreaded having to drive to the gym after a long day of work. Going to the gym on the weekends proved to be especially hard.

I was also always hungry. I noticed that I started eating more fruit throughout the day, and I needed to incorporate rice or potatoes into my dinners in order to stay full throughout the night.

Although I'm by no means a gym expert, I also noticed I was beginning to feel more comfortable at the gym. While there were definitely days when I dreaded hopping on the treadmill, I wasn't feeling intimidated by the thought of working out.

After the Challenge


(Image credit: Courtesy of Samantha Pouls)

After 30 days, I noticed a big difference in my body and overall wellness. My legs felt and looked stronger, and I had shrunk a size in jeans. Although I thought I would be extremely tired by the end of the challenge, I actually felt much more energetic and found that I constantly wanted to get out of the house rather than sit and watch Netflix. My skin also had more of a glow compared to before I started the challenge, and the blemishes that usually lined my chin were almost completely gone. My knees and calves were a little sore, but other than that, I felt like a new person.

My Honest Take on the Challenge


(Image credit: Courtesy of Samantha Pouls)

If you're like me and want to get involved with fitness but are not sure how to get started or feel intimidated by working out, this workout plan might be for you. While there will definitely be hard days, I promise you will slowly start to feel amazing if you try it. You don't have to worry about not being a runner or not knowing how to lift weights because all you have to do is walk. Yes, the level 12 incline is challenging, but it gets easier as time goes on.

While I did the 12-3-30 workout for 30 days with only one day of rest after every six days, I would caution against following this schedule. Toward the end, I noticed I was really dreading going to the gym every day (especially on Fridays). In order to keep a healthy relationship with the gym and this workout, I would suggest doing this three to five days a week.

For those who don't like the gym, I highly recommend watching TV or listening to a podcast during your workout. I started watching the Netflix show Bloodline during my workouts, and it made the 30 minutes go by much faster. I also only watched the show while at the gym, which helped me look forward to going.

All in all, the 12-3-30 TikTok trend is definitely worth trying if you are looking for a new workout that does not involve running or joining a fitness class. It's something you can do on your own, and you'll probably start to notice a difference in your body and overall relationship with the gym after the first week. There will be days when you don't want to work out, and it's very important to listen to your body and stretch or use a foam roller when needed. Although I'm no longer doing the full challenge, I still do the 12-3-30 workout twice a week and use a Peloton on the other two days.

This post was originally published at an earlier date and has since been updated.

Next: I Walked a Mile Every Day for 30 Days—This Is Why You Should Too


This article is provided for informational purposes only and is not intended to be used in the place of advice of your physician or other medical professionals. You should always consult with your doctor or healthcare provider first with any health-related questions.