TikTok is popular for entertainment and sharing sometimes useful — and sometimes not — information. Lately, people on the platform seem to be dishing out fitness advice. Just a few months ago, the craze was all about the 12-3-30 workout, but the newest trend, with more than 276 million views, is the 3-2-8 workout.
Natalie Rose, a U.K.-based Pilates and barre instructor, broadcasted her fitness routine last year in a short introductory TikTok video. After seeing such a positive response, she posted the follow-up video below explaining the method in more detail.
@natalieroseuk Replying to @𝕰𝖗𝖔𝖕𝖍𝖎𝖑𝖊 quick breakdown of the 3-2-8 method that me and my clients use! Commit to it for 3 months to really see the benefits. Follow for part 2 – linking with your menstrual cycle 🩸 #pcosfriendly #pilates #menstrualcycles ♬ Keeping Your Head Up (Jonas Blue Remix) [Radio Edit] – Birdy
How To Do The 3-2-8 Workout
Once you know what each number stands for, it’s pretty easy to remember the routine. The idea is to get in three strength training workouts and two low-impact sessions, like Pilates or barre, per week, and walk an average of 8,000 steps per day.
In the video, Rose explains that the strength workouts should include compound, full body exercises. The pilates days are “active recovery” days, she says, that focus on mobility, flexibility and core strength. And walking 8,000 steps per day, on average, is going to burn extra calories, she says.
According to Rose, this routine comes with a slew of positive health benefits, from weight loss to reduced inflammation and lymphatic drainage. (However, please keep in mind that this is her opinion. There aren’t any apples-to-apples scientific studies on the 3-2-8 workout that have proved this yet.) Rose suggests it’ll take at least three months to see your hard work come to fruition.
In an interview with Well+Good, certified trainer Lindsey Bomgren called the 3-2-8 workout a “TikTok trend that I can actually get behind.” She went on to say it’s a “well-rounded workout routine” that balances strength training with core and mobility work.
But just like anything we see on social media, we had more questions about the merits of this workout plan. We reached out to Kat Frazier, a Boulder, Colorado-based personal trainer certified by the American College of Sports Medicine … who said she’s not personally a fan of any social media trends.
“To me, fitness should fit into your lifestyle, provide wellness and better enhance your quality of life,” Frazier says.
Is Walking Truly Better Than Running?
For those who prefer to avoid running, the 3-2-8 workout has one big benefit: You just have to get your 8,000 steps in by walking, not jogging.
However, since the 3-2-8 workout calls for walking, some critics have pointed out that it’s easy to miss out on the 150 minutes per week of moderate-intensity exercise or 75 minutes of vigorous exercise that everyone from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to the American Heart Association recommends. According to CDC, brisk walking can count as moderate activity, and jogging or running counts as vigorous activity. However, the 3-2-8 plan doesn’t require getting your steps in at any particular intensity.
Frazier finds it’s less about reaching an exact number of steps, which could become obsessive, and says it’s more about listening to what your body needs.
“The general goal to move around more is good, but it should be more about general wellness versus feeling the need to reach a step goal every day,” she says.
Frazier says that running can spike endorphins and produce mental clarity but finds that walking is a solid lower-impact option that’s accessible to more people. As to whether hitting 8,000 steps per day is better than running, to her, well, that’s debatable.
“The best form of exercise is the type of activity that meets the individual’s needs and goals, helps instead of harms, is the most enjoyable and what the person will stick to,” Frazier says.
Are There Downsides To The 3-2-8 Workout?
In addition to potentially missing out on that heart-healthy moderate-intensity exercise, there’s another thing to consider if you’re thinking about trying this plan: Frazier also noted that when it comes to recommending strength training, she feels it’s easy for women to assume that endless reps with lighter weights will produce results.
“In reality, you need enough of a load and tension put on the muscle to create change,” she says. “For the average exerciser, this generally falls within at least your 10 to 12 rep range. The weight should be manageable enough to still perform with good form, but challenging by around the eighth rep of a 12-rep range.”
They key might be to avoid getting in a rut and repeating the same strength routine with the same weights for weeks on end. In her viral TikTok, Rose does say you’ll need to increase the load on your weights “at least every four to six weeks.”
Ultimately, Frazier thinks the potential downsides of this routine boil down to the fact that it might not be varied enough depending on the person, since fitness hinges on a multitude of factors, including lifestyle.
“Each individual should strive to incorporate some type of resistance training, mobility work and endurance within their routines, but there are numerous ways to achieve this. As with everything, balance is key and listening to what you need both physically and mentally,” Frazier says.