What is the 3-2-8 method? Fitness trainers reveal the benefits of this viral TikTok workout

The 3-2-8 method is a low-impact routine designed to help you get fitter, stronger, and more flexible wherever you like to work out

Woman reaching over to one side stretching, part of the 3-2-8 method
(Image credit: Getty Images)

The 3-2-8 method could be the new way to work out if you're looking to change up your routine and develop a more well-rounded approach to exercise. It might have gone viral on social media - but this is one trend that could be worth following, the experts say.  

The 3-2-8 workout method is one of the latest routines to go viral on TikTok with over 17 million views and counting on the hashtag, and while we remain skeptical about any workout shared for views on the internet, this one has caught our attention - and the attention of personal trainers worldwide - for good reason. It combines strength training, Pilates, and walking to create a great low-impact workout designed to be anywhere by anyone.  

You've heard of the 12-3-30 workout and the 23-7-2 Stairmaster workout. Now get ready for the 3-2-8 method. To reveal all you need to know about the routine, here, woman&home speaks to three certified personal trainers about how to do it right, the benefits, and tips for staying consistent. 

What is the 3-2-8 method? 

The 3-2-8 method combines strength training, Pilates or barre workouts, and at least 8,000 steps per day to create a weekly workout routine suitable for anyone, regardless of your starting level of fitness. There are five individual workouts in total with the steps done daily on top of this as a gentle form of cardio. 

It's the perfect all-rounder routine, says David Wiener, personal trainer and body transformation specialist. "Cardio, strength training, and flexibility training are some of the fundamentals to a successful fitness regime," he explains. "Love it or hate it, cardio is essential to your health and it has a number of benefits. When incorporating this with strength training, you will also be building muscle mass, which will increase your metabolism and may help you lose weight and tone your body." 

It may sound like a lot of exercise - especially if you're new to working out - but the 3-2-8 workout is completely adjustable to your level of fitness and preferences when it comes to exercise. You can do either: 

  • Three days of strength training, two days of low-impact exercises such as Pilates or barre, and an average of 8,000 steps a day.
  • OR three days of Pilates or barre workouts, two days of strength training, and an average of 8,000 steps a day. 

While it's important to stay consistent and level up the difficulty if you want to improve, there are two rest days in the program and there's no rule to say each of the five workouts has to be a certain length of time or super challenging every week.  

You can also do the routine at home with a workout app, in group classes, or in the gym, whichever you prefer. 

The 3-2-8 method was created by Pilates and barre teacher Natalie Rose and shared on TikTok. "[It's] my not-so-secret method that will leave you feeling snatched and strong," she explains, suggesting that the routine can help you make progress in as little as six weeks with "transformation" in three months. 

With all the promising results, if you want to try the routine, here's how to do it right. 

How to do the 3-2-8 method

Strength training

Strength training, also known as resistance training or weightlifting, comes in many forms. It can be done with barbells, dumbbells, and kettlebells at the gym, by doing Pilates for strength training, or a cardio and strength-training combined group class like circuit training

The traditional 3-2-8 method suggests three days of strength training per week. To give you an idea of what this could look like, you could split it up as a muscle-focused routine (e.g. a session focused on the lower body, a session on the upper body, and a full-body workout session), a combination of higher and lower-intensity workouts, or by duration (e.g. an hour full-body workout in the gym, a 30-minute HIIT workout at home, and a 45-minute circuit training session). 

If you're looking to work out at the gym, it's a good idea to speak to a personal trainer who can help you figure out an individual program for your strength training sessions and offer advice on proper technique. 

Woman standing on yoga matt in backyard, holding dumbbells to do strength training as part of the 3-2-8 method

(Image credit: Getty Images)

Pilates or barre

Pilates is one of the easier home workout routines to do, with many of the best yoga apps offering classes online for a small monthly fee. You can also go along to a group Pilates class in your local area for two or more sessions a week, as part of the 3-2-8 workout, where you'll find sessions like Pilates for beginners, Reformer Pilates, and perhaps even newer concepts like Lagree. 

Barre is the other option in the 3-2-8 workout method. This is a workout that uses many of the principles of ballet. It's low-impact just like Pilates but typically is a little sweatier, and because it requires the use of a ballet barre, you'll need to do this one in a studio. If you don't have a studio near you, consider an app like ClassPass where you can sign-up for Pilates or barre classes, along with many others, on a pay-as-you-go basis. 

8,000 steps a day

The first part of the 3-2-8 method suggests a mix of strength training and Pilates for five sessions a week. The '8' comes from the 8,000 steps of walking a day, which creator Natalie Rose suggests those looking to try the method do on top of the workouts. 

Much like the others, this walking is totally versatile. "You can choose to make it low intensity with a relaxed walk, or by choosing to walk where you’d usually take other forms of transport for example. Or, you can make it more intense with a brisk power walk to ensure you get a sweat on. Either is fine as long as you get the 8,000 steps in," says Arabella Featherstone, a leading fitness trainer and coach. 

Does the 3-2-8 method work?

The thousands (if not millions) of 3-2-8 workout fans on social media would suggest this method absolutely works - and personal trainers agree. "Combining Pilates, weights, and walking can be an effective way to improve fitness, increase strength, and aid weight loss," says Featherstone.  

"Pilates focuses on core strength, flexibility, and stability, while weight training targets muscle strength and development," she explains. "Walking is a low-impact aerobic exercise that promotes cardiovascular health, and incorporating all three together means you'll get a good balance of different training styles." 

Wiener, who works with AI-based fitness and lifestyle coaching app Freeletics, agrees. "Compared to all of the bizarre fitness trends out there, this is one I can champion, especially as you can do this without specific equipment," he says. "In fact, it would be difficult to find a PT who would disagree with such a positive trend that encourages people to workout five times a week and walk every day."

So, what are the benefits you can expect to experience with the 3-2-8 workout method?

Woman stretching on a yoga matt in local park surrounded by others

(Image credit: Getty Images)

Benefits of the 3-2-8 method

1. It focuses on the entire body

There are very few workout trends around that focus on the entire body, but the 3-2-8 is one of them. It's what makes the workout regime so special, says Wiener. 

"It’s well-rounded, which will help people who just do strength training focus on improving their mobility and balance, and likewise, people who focus on just Pilates to focus on their larger muscle groups and improving their strength through heavier weights or bodyweight training."

Combining different types of exercise is especially beneficial for women over 50, says new research from the University of Potsdam. The report shows that participants experienced major positive changes in both muscle strength and cardiovascular endurance after 21 weeks with four sessions a week, at least 1 hour per session. With five workouts plus walking scheduled in as part of the 3-2-8 method, you're bound to hit this. 

2. It's great for building muscle and getting stronger

As noted, "doing three strength or weighted workouts a week is a great amount for building muscle and increasing your strength," says Featherstone. "It's the amount I recommend to all my clients as a minimum to achieve results."

Strength training alone has plenty of benefits too, from reducing the risk of injury to improving many of the more uncomfortable symptoms of menopause as it helps to maintain muscle mass and bone density.  

3. The 3-2-8 workout will help improve your posture

"Pilates is really great for your core strength and can help improve posture with a relatively low-intensity workout," says Featherstone. 

No matter the type of Pilates you do, there will be a focus on maintaining your balance and using the muscles around your stomach and lower back to stabilize yourself through the movement.  

4. Helps with weight loss

While there are so many benefits to regular exercise that don't have anything to do with appearance, if you are looking to learn how to lose weight without dieting or exercising excessively, this workout is perfect. 

"The walking element of this workout method is great as it’s low impact and also gives you a goal to get moving more. The target of 8,000 steps will aid weight loss and improve your cardiovascular health," says Featherstone. 

5. The 3-2-8 workout can improve your cardiovascular fitness

Cardiovascular fitness or a lack of it is a leading contributor to your fitness age and ultimately, your risk of developing health issues like heart disease, high blood pressure, and type 2 diabetes. 

Walking as part of the 3-2-8 method will be beneficial for improving fitness in this way but so will the strength training and Pilates elements. "It raises your heart rate during a workout, improves your heart health, and can lower the risk of heart disease. When incorporating this with strength training, you will also be building muscle mass, which will increase your metabolism and therefore help you lose weight and tone your body," says Wiener.  

Lower half shot of woman walking dog wearing walking trainers along a footpath

(Image credit: Getty Images)

6. It can help you establish a regular exercise routine

One of the many reasons people avoid working out regularly is boredom or exercise burnout. However, the combination of three different types of exercise at varying intensity and durations depending on how you're feeling any given week is enough to burst the bubble and help you rediscover the parts of exercise you love. 

"Not forgetting the amazing mental health benefits too, helping to reduce anxiety and depression, and getting some all-important fresh air," adds Wiener. 

Tips for doing the 3-2-9 method workout

  • Stay consistent: "Remember, consistency is key to any health and fitness program," says Featherstone. 
  • Include more moderate to high-intensity exercise: "We should be aiming for 150 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise a week, or 75 minutes of high-intensity exercise," says Wiener. "Some people can avoid this by following the 3-2-8 workout, but making sure you do the exercises at a higher pace can get your heart rate up and incorporate an element of high-intensity training too." 
  • Make sure you progressively overload: "Once you do get the swing of things, you can start incorporating more steps, more high-intensity workouts, and find a well-diverse workout regime that works for you," says Wiener. Doing so will make sure that you're progressively getting stronger, more flexible, more agile, and fitter every month. 
  • Don't be afraid of straying from the plan: That being said, don't be afraid to mix things up if the 3-2-8 workout isn't working for you. "Remember, when trends actually work, they are there to encourage you to be a better, healthier you," Wiener says. "You do not have to use the trend so strictly that you can’t incorporate factors to make it better for you. 
  • Listen to your body: While consistency is the key to making progress, pushing yourself beyond what your body can do is the number one way to get an injury - or just stop enjoying the workout, which means you won't do it. Take breaks, and make sure to incorporate good rest days into your routine as well as the workouts. 
Grace Walsh
Health Editor

A digital health journalist with over six years of experience writing and editing for UK publications, Grace has covered the world of health and wellbeing extensively for Cosmopolitan, The i Paper and more.

She started her career writing about the complexities of sex and relationships, before combining personal hobbies with professional and writing about fitness. Everything from the best protein powder to sleep technology, the latest health trend to nutrition essentials, Grace has a huge spectrum of interests in the wellness sphere. Having reported on the coronavirus pandemic since the very first swab, she now also counts public health among them.