The Theragun is one of the leading percussive massagers, and the Theragun Prime is the budget model of the range.
At $299, The Theragun Prime is a lot cheaper than the Elite ($399) and the Pro ($599) versions. But when compared to other budget-friendly massage devices, The Theragun Prime is still relatively expensive.
Alternatives including the Opove, the Exogun, and our very own AlphaGun X are priced at more than $100 less, but offer more features and accessories.
So it's important to compare the Theragun Prime to the other budget alternatives. In this review, I'm going to cover:
1. What the features of the Theragun Prime are
2. What's good about the Prime
3. What's bad about it
4. How it compares to other massagers like the AlphaGun X, which is $120 cheaper but has more heads, stall force, speeds and battery life.
What's Good About the Theragun Prime?
The Theragun Prime has 5 speeds - ranging from 1,750 up to 2,400 RPM and a stall force of 30lb. This is more speed settings than the HyperVolt (which has 3) and earlier versions of the Theragun (it's predecessor had only one speed).
The Prime comes with 4 massage heads, a battery life of 2 hours, and an amplitude of 16mm.
Weighing about 2.5lb, the Prime is large but relatively lightweight. It has an instantly recognizable design, which allows the device to be held in a number of ways and is designed to reduce the strain on your hands.
The cost of the Theragun Prime is $299. The charging stand costs an extra $59. There is no carry case, but it does comes with a small cloth pouch.
The key feature of the Theragun Prime is the brand: the Theragun (made by Therabody) is the most well known percussive massager on the market.
The current version of the Theragun is also much quieter than previous versions, but it still produces about the same noise level as the other devices we tested. Most massages in any price range are relatively quiet now.
What Does the Theragun Prime Lack?
First of all, the Theragun Prime has only 5 speed settings.
This is a big improvement on the Theragun Liv, the Prime's predecessor, which had only 1 speed and which one reviewer on CNET noted didn't 'offer any settings low enough to accommodate for extremely sore muscles, injuries or conditions like arthritis'.
But 5 speeds is still a lot less than much cheaper alternatives - some of which have as many as 30 speeds, starting at much more gentle levels and increasing more gradually to an even higher RPM.
For example, the Opove M3 Pro has 4 speeds, the Exogun has 6, and the AlphaGun X has 30 speeds - all three cost at least $100 less than the Theragun Prime.
Devices with more speeds are good for the following reasons:
- They have a lower minimum speed (the AlphaGun's minimum speed is a surprisingly gentle 1,000 RPM). This can be useful if you're very sore or find these sort of devices too powerful.
- The increments between each speed level is smaller - they increase more gradually, making them more customizable and potentially more comfortable, again especially useful if you're sore in places or find the high RPM uncomfortable.
- Some have a higher max speed. The Opove Max is 3,300 RPM and the AlphaGun X is 3,500 RPM - compared to the Theragun's 2,400 RPM. Potentially useful for those who sometimes want a really high RPM.
Secondly, The Prime only has 4 massage heads. This is probably about average for a massager, but even the basic HyperVolt (also $299) comes with 5 heads and some devices have as many as 8 heads.
Thirdly, although the Prime is powerful it has one of the lowest stall forces out of the massage guns we looked at - 30lb. Only the Opove has a stall force this low. The ExoGun and AlphaGun X both have 40lb and 50lb respectively. The more expensive Theragun Elite and Pro both have a stall force of 60lb.
This means you can apply more pressure to these devices than the Theragun Prime.
The Theragun is, however, a major and widely recognized brand in massage devices. It's well built and looks very impressive with an attractive ergonomic design and offers many features of the more expensive Theragun devices for a lower price.
The Top Theragun Prime Alternatives
Of course, the Theragun is the original and most widely recognized massage gun on the market, and the Prime is a good budget alternative to the Elite and Pro versions.
If you're looking for low cost options though, there are cheaper massage guns with more features than the Theragun Prime - they're just not such big brands.
Both the ExoGun and the Opove M3 Pro (for example) come with more heads, higher max RPM, more speed settings, and are much cheaper at $199. They both have equally low noise levels and a longer battery life (3-4 hours).
The AlphaGun X also has the same basic features as the Theragun Prime: low noise, strong outer casing, lightweight and durable. It also has 6x the number of speeds, 20lb more stall force, 2x the number of attachment heads a higher max RPM and a carry case included free.
The AlphaGun X is also currently on offer at a competitive price of $179 (reduced from $299 for a limited time).
Although all these alternatives have a different design to the Theragun (they look more like a HyperVolt in appearance - see image above), the only practical difference this makes is how you hold the device.
One thing all these alternatives do lack is an app. The Theragun Prime can be used in conjunction with the Theragun app, which includes some suggested routines and records your use of the device.
For someone who really wants this feature there is currently no cheaper alternative. But if you're looking for the extra features these alternatives offer - e.g. the flexibility of many more speed settings - then you could save about $100 or more.
The AlphaGun X excels in several areas:
1. The AlphaGun X has a 3,500 RPM motor compared to the 2,400 RPM motor of the Theragun Prime. The AlphaGun also has a higher stall force of 50lb compared to, which means you can apply more pressure with it.
2. The AlphaGun X has 8 massage heads while the Theragun Prime has only 4. Massage heads come in different shapes and sizes and are designed for different parts of the body - 2x as many means the AlphaGun X is more adaptable and tailored to your whole body.
3. The AlphaGun also has 30 speed settings compared to the Theragun's 5. The Alpha has an LCD screen where you can select between 30 speeds from gentle to intense, making it significantly more customizable - more gentle when you're particularly sore, more intense when required and at more gradual increases in between.
Coupled with 2x as many massage heads designed for different body parts, this makes the AlphaGun X one of the most adaptable percussive massagers.
4. The AlphaGun is has up to 5 hours battery life, while the Theragun Prime has a max battery life of 2 hours. Means more use time per charge.
5. The AlphaGun is significantly cheaper at $179 - $120 cheaper than the Theragun Prime.
While the Theragun is an excellent percussive massager, there are still cheaper budget alternatives with more features. The AlphaGun X is the best value for money out of those we compared.
Four key reasons to try the AlphaGun X instead:
1. It's $120 cheaper at $179 compared to $299
2. The Alpha has 100% more massage heads: 8 compared to 4 with the Theragun Prime
3. The AlphaGun has a digital control panel and 6x as many speed settings
4. The AlphaGun X has a longer battery life of up to 5 hours.
5. The AlphaGun X has a 3,500 RPM max speed and 50lb stall force - both higher than the Theragun Prime.
Although the Theragun Prime has the highest amplitude of 16mm, the AlphaGun X has only a slightly lower amplitude of 14mm - which is higher than most budget alternatives (which are in the 10mm-12mm range).
Finally, the AlphaGun has a 1 year warranty and unlike many budget alternatives its shipped from the USA.