There was 12-3-30 on the treadmill, then 25-7-10 on a StairMaster, and now, the latest three-part, numerically-based, TikTok-borne fitness trend: the 3-2-8 workout plan.
Despite the gimmicky nature of trends, each of these programs have merit. And with 3-2-8, you don’t even need a specific machine.
What is 3-2-8, exactly? Here’s the breakdown:
3 – Three strength workouts per week
2 – Two low-impact workouts like barre or Pilates (done at an active recovery intensity) per week
8 – 8,000 steps per day
Daily walking and five workouts per week is one fitness plan that’s virtually universally endorsed. Whether a medical practitioner, certified trainer, or holistic coach, you’d be hard pressed to find an expert who’d steer you away from a program of this nature. The combination of muscle and stamina-building, mood-boosting, mobility- and flexibility-improving, circulation-stimulating, and injury-preventing benefits from these different activities makes this series a true trifecta.
Why trainers love it
Nourish Move Love founder and certified trainer Lindsey Bomgren says 3-2-8 is a “TikTok trend that I can actually get behind.” Why? She explains it’s “a well-rounded workout routine that encourages those who love strength training to incorporate more mobility, balance, and core training through Pilates classes. On the other hand, it encourages Pilates lovers to focus on larger muscle groups and heavier weights to build strength. It’s a win-win.”
Trainer Les Alfred, host of Balanced Black Girl podcast, adds that the addition of walking makes it “a structured way to have a balanced exercise routine.” She says, “Walking throughout the day is a great form of cardio that is often easier on the body than higher-impact exercises like running.” Not to mention, walking—especially outside—comes with a whole host of mental health benefits as well.
What’s more, these five workouts don’t have to be super long, either (this is in line with a lot of other programs, offering short but effective workouts done consistently over time). Bomgren, for instance, offers a 3-2-8 challenge with workouts that range from 25 to 40 minutes long. But like any workout plan, you can scale the 3-2-8 program to fit your personal goals and needs, she says. “If you prefer Pilates, you can make your two Pilates training days longer sessions (30 to 40 minutes) and your three strength training days shorter (15 to 20 minutes), or vice versa,” suggests Bomgren. “Because the best workout program is one you actually want to do.”
As a certified yoga instructor herself, Alfred does add that yoga could be a nice addition to the low-impact workouts, either in lieu of or in combination with Pilates and barre. Some experts also point out that the routine is missing any moderate- or high-intensity cardio, unless you’re doing the workouts at a fast enough pace. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity or 75 minutes of vigorous aerobic exercise per week, so aim to pick up the pace when you can to really get your heart pumping.
And of course, as with any social media trend, remember to be skeptical when it comes to specific claims. Participants on TikTok are saying it helps their menstrual cycle and polycycstic ovary syndrome (PCOS) and assists with lymphatic drainage, but there’s not exactly double-blind, placebo-controlled, clinical trial testing those things.
If you’re just looking for a solid routine to get moving in a healthy way, though, the 3-2-8 trend could be just the way to do it.