The Theragun (manufactured by Therabody) is the original percussive massager and is among the most popular on the market. Its unique ergonomic design is both distinctive and easy to use, and all versions boast a powerful 2,400 RPM.
There are 4 Theragun devices in the range, each of which will be discussed in this Theragun review.
- The Pro, which costs $599
- Elite ($399)
- Prime ($299)
- and the Mini ($199)
I'll also compare the Theragun devices to well known competitors and other alternatives - some of which offer more features for a much lower price.
Although the Theragun is a good massager, and there have recently been improvements in terms of noise levels and additional accessories, there are still areas where the Theragun falls short.
For example, all versions of the Theragun have 5 speed settings, but there are now alternative devices with as many as 30 speeds.
More speed settings means a more customized massage; the ability to start at a gentle setting and to increase between speeds more gradually. These features are particularly useful if you're sore from exercise.
In addition, even most cheaper alternatives (surprisingly) have a longer battery life. In some cases more than twice as long.
Yet the Theragun remains popular - endorsed by celebrities, athletes and social media influencers. So, how does it compare?
The Theragun Range
First of all, it's important to split out the four Theragun devices:
Theragun Pro - the Pro is the top of the range model and the most expensive at $599. It is the only device in the range to come with a unique rotating head and full carry case included.
Theragun Elite - this is a more powerful version of the budget Theragun Prime rather than a cheaper version of the Pro. It's the same as the Prime but with more stall force and one extra attachment head. It costs $100 more than the Prime at $399.
Theragun Prime - the budget device of the range, the Prime has 4 heads, 5 speeds and a relatively low stall force of 30lb. It's competitively priced though at $299 - the same as a basic HyperVolt.
Theragun Mini - this is an entirely different shape and has a different purpose. It's a highly portable handheld massage with 3 speeds and one all purpose head. It's $199.
What's Good About the Theragun?
The Theragun Prime, Elite and Pro all have 5 speed settings, while the Mini has 3 speeds. All four Theragun devices have the same RPM range - from 1,750 up to a maximum of 2,400.
The cheapest of the main range, the Theragun Prime, has a stall force of 30lb, while the Elite and Pro have 60lb. The Theragun Mini has a 20lb stall force. Stall force is the amount of pressure you can apply to the device before it cuts out.
The Pro and Elite both have a higher stall force than average, while the Prime and Mini are lower than average.
The Prime, Elite and Pro have an amplitude of 16mm while the Mini offers 12mm.
The Prime comes with 4 massage heads, while the Elite and Pro have 5 heads. The Mini has a single round head.
The three larger devices weigh about 2.5lb and the mini weighs about 1lb. They all have a battery life of about 2 hours.
The Pro, Elite and Prime all have the unique Theragun ergonomic design, but only the Pro has a rotating massage head for extra flexibility.
There is no carry case for the Mini, Prime or Elite, but they do come with a small cloth pouch. Only the Pro has a full carry case included.
The charging stand costs an extra $59.
All current versions of the Theragun are much quieter than earlier iterations, but they still produce about the same noise level as the other devices we tested. Most massages in any price range are relatively quiet now.
Overall, the Theragun is powerful, high quality and has a sleek ergonomic design. While there are devices with more speeds, accessories and battery life, it's a prestigious brand that makes high quality massagers.
What Does the Theragun Lack?
First of all, as mentioned earlier, all Theragun devices have only 5 speed settings.
This is more than earlier Theragun devices, which had between 1-2 speeds until recently - even at the top price point.
But 5 speeds is still a lot less than much cheaper alternatives.
Some devices for under $200 have as many as 30 speeds, starting at much more gentle levels and increasing more gradually between speeds to an even higher RPM. That's 6x as many speeds as the top of the range Theragun for over $400 less.
For example, the Exogun has 6 speeds and the AlphaGun X has 30 - both cost about $100 less than the Theragun Prime (the cheapest in the range) and $400 less than the Pro.
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 usually find these sort of devices too powerful.
- The increments between each speed level is much smaller - they increase in RPM (speed) more gradually, making them more customizable and potentially more comfortable, again especially useful if you're sore in places or find a 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 Theragun has between 4-5 massage heads, depending on the model. The Prime has 4, while the Elite and Pro both have 5. The Mini has only 1 head.
Four or five heads is about average for a massager; the basic HyperVolt ($299, like the Theragun Prime) comes with 5 heads, but some cheaper devices have as many as 8 heads.
Thirdly, while the Elite and Pro both have a high stall force (60lb), the cheaper Prime and Mini devices are both much lower - 30lb and 20lb respectively. This is a lot lower than the average budget device.
Fro example, the ExoGun has a stall force of 40lb, and the Hypervolt and AlphaGun X both have 50lb. This means you can apply more pressure to these devices. All 3 are cheaper than the $299 Theragun Prime.
Finally, all Theragun devices have a battery life of about 2 hours. This is lower than all the other devices we tested, including the HyperVolt, AlphaGun, Exogun and even the Opove (a budget device sold on Amazon).
Top Theragun Prime Alternatives
Of course, the Theragun is the original and most widely recognized massage gun on the market. It's a good quality device.
But if you are looking to save money or want device with a more flexible range of speeds, for example, there are some other options you may want to consider as well.
Both the ExoGun and the Opove M3 Pro (for example) come with more speed settings, a higher max RPM, longer battery life, and are much cheaper at $199. They both have equally low noise levels and at least as many heads/accessories or more. Both also include a carry case for this price.
The AlphaGun X also has the same basic features as the Theragun: it's about the same noise level, has a durable outer casing, and weighs about the same (although it's a different shape).
It also has 6x the number of speeds, 20lb more stall force (than the Prime), more attachment heads, a higher max RPM, longer battery life, and a carry case included free.
The AlphaGun X is also currently on offer at $159 (currently reduced from $299).
As you can see from the image below, the AlphaGun X is a different shape, but is operated in the same way using an LDC speed dial on the back.
The only practical difference this makes is how you hold the device.
One thing all these alternatives do lack is an app. All Theragun devices 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 at least $120.
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. The AlphaGun also has a stall force of 50lb, which means you can apply more pressure than the cheaper versions of the Theragun.
2. The AlphaGun X has 8 massage heads while the Theragun has only 4-5. Massage heads come in different shapes and sizes and are designed for different parts of the body - more heads 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 up to 2x massage heads designed for different body parts, this makes the AlphaGun X one of the most adaptable percussive massagers around.
4. The AlphaGun has up to 5 hours battery life, while Theragun devices have a max battery life of about 2 hours. More use time per charge.
5. The AlphaGun is significantly cheaper at $159 - $140 cheaper than the Theragun Prime and about $400 cheaper than the Pro.
While the Theragun is an excellent percussive massager, there are cheaper alternatives with some additional features.
The AlphaGun X has been designed to offer the best value for money out of those we compared.
Four key reasons to try the AlphaGun X instead:
1. It's at least $140 cheaper at $159 compared to $299+
2. The Alpha has 100% more massage heads: 8 compared to 4/5 with the Theragun
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 and Mini.
Although the Theragun 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.