The Theragun (made by Therabody) is the first, and probably the most well-known, percussive massage device.
The technology behind massage guns has developed rapidly in recent years, and now it's one of many on the market. There are now a lot of percussive massagers to choose from, some even offering more features for less money.
Popular alternatives include the HyperVolt, Opove, ExoGun, and our very own AlphaGun X.
However, this review is about the Theragun, so I'm going to cover:
1. The devices in the Theragun range
2. What the features of the Theragun are
3. What's good about the Theragun
4. What's bad about it
5. How it compares to the AlphaGun X, which is between $150-$450 cheaper, but has more speeds, more massage heads and some other extra features too.
The Theragun Range
There are 4 devices in the range, the PRO, the Elite, the Prime, and the Mini.
The Theragun Mini is a lightweight and basic device that costs $199. It has quite limited features, but it's key feature is it's small size and portability - I'm not going to include this device in my review.
That leaves the 3 main devices in the Theragun range:
The Theragun Prime is the budget model of the range. It has 5 speeds, 4 heads, a stall force of 30lb, and a 2 hour battery life.
The Prime has a fairly basic interface, with two speed buttons and LED indicators for which of the 5 speeds the device is using. One year warranty. No wireless charging.
Price = $299
This is the 'goldilocks' model - in practice a slightly upgraded version of the Prime, rather than a cheaper version of the Pro. The Elite is very similar to the Prime, but with 40lb stall force and 5 heads. The design includes a blue band on the arm.
The Elite allows wireless charging, but the wireless charger costs extra. Same battery life as the Prime.
Weighs 2.2lb. One year warranty.
Price = $399
Quite a lot more expensive, but with many more features: rotating arm, 60lb stall force, 4.5 hour battery life, and 6 massage heads.
Slightly heavier at 2.8lb. Two year warranty.
Price = $599
What's good about the Theragun?
The Theragun is the original percussive massager. It's reconized around the world and it's a well-designed and well-built device. It's promoted by a number of famous sportspeople, and has the high price tag you'd expect.
All the Theragun devices (apart from the Mini) have five speeds, ranging from 1,750 up to 2,400 RPM, increasing in increments of about 200. This is more than earlier versions, and more than some other premium devices like the HyperVolt, but it's still quite limited in range and number.
Using the app the speeds can be increased/reduced in smaller increments, but still only between the 1,750-2,400 range.
This means that within that range, using the app, the speed can be increased more gradually - making it more comfortable to use. However, it's still not possible to make the device go outside the 1,750-2,400 RPM range.
You may have heard that the Theragun is a loud device, but the amount of noise it makes is much less than earlier versions, which were very loud.
Although it's certainly not silent, or the quietest device on the market, the current Theragun devices are noticeably more quiet than previous versions.
With a stall force ranging from 30-60lb, the Theragun is comparable to other massage devices.
The same is true of the accessories included - most massage devices have between 4-6 heads as well. It comes with a 1 year limited warranty, which again is standard among reputable massage devices.
Overall, the Theragun is a high price but high quality massage gun. It has more speeds and produces less noise than previous versions, and the app is innovative.
What's Bad About the Theragun?
The first potential negative with the Theragun is the high price tag - the core range starts at $299 for the basic Prime model, and up to $599 for the latest Theragun PRO.
This makes the Theragun the most expensive device on the market.
Even the cheapest in the range, the Theragun Prime, costs more than a number of other premium devices that offer more features.
Devices like the Hydragun ($299) and AlphaGun X ($149) both have more heads, speeds, battery life, and stall force - and they cost the same or much less. They also include extras like a carry case, which you have to pay extra for with the Theragun.
Crucially though, even the top of the range Theragun's range of speeds and massage heads are limited, especially considering the high price.
The Theragun has 5 speed settings, and the lowest setting still has quite a high RPM at 1,750. There are two potential problems with this:
1. The Theragun effectively only has 5 massage programs - there are now alternatives with up to 30 speeds, and therefore offer much more customization.
2. The range of speed settings is limited - you cannot go higher than 2,400 RPM or lower than 1,750. A minimum of 1,750 is still very high - if your body is very sore, this might feel too powerful. By comparison, the AlphaGun X has a wider range, starting at 1,000 RPM and goes up to 3,500 in 30 gradual increments.
Despite being one of the most expensive, the Theragun has fewer speeds than many of the other devices we compared:
Bear in mind the cheapest Theragun costs $299 (and up to $599) and the ExoGun and AlphaGun X are only $149.
Finally, for such an expensive device the battery life is short at only 2 hours. All the other devices we compared had a longer battery life, despite some having more stall force and a higher max RPM.
The Top Alternatives
If you've got the money to spend on the Theragun Pro, and want a solid massage gun that's going to impress people at the gym, there's not much on the market that compares.
However, if you're considering either the Theragun Prime or Elite, there are a range of alternatives that cost less and offer more in the way of speed settings, accessories, battery life, and even power (stall force and RPM).
All the alternatives below offer the same 12 month warranty and are as quiet (or more quiet) as the Theragun.
Starting at the more expensive end, the Hydragun (at $299) offers arguably the most quiet massage gun experience. It also has more heads than any version of the Theragun (7 in total), 6 speeds with a wider range (1,200-3,200 RPM) and a much longer battery life at about 5 hours.
Although a different shape to the Theragun, the Hydragun is has an equally ergonomic design, with a handle at 99 degrees.
We can't talk about HyperVolt alternatives without mentioning the Theragun.
It sells for even more than the HyperVolt though, and while it's a very good massager, it still shares some of the drawbacks of the HyperVolt devices: high price ($299-599), limited range of massage heads (up to 4) and limited speed settings (5 in total).
The Opove and ExoGun are both popular low-price alternatives. The Opove is a very similar looking device to the HyperVolt, with the same basic features, including 3 speeds, a comparable 30lb of stall force and 4 massage heads. The Opove costs less than the HyperVolt at $199.
The ExoGun has some advantages over the HyperVolt. It has the same basic features again, but 6 speed settings instead of 3 and costs $199 - $100 less than the basic HyperVolt.
Then there's the Hydragun. For the same price as the HyperVolt 2, at $299, the Hydragun offers more heads (7), more speeds (6) and a free carry case. It also has a slightly higher stall force of 30lb compared to 25lb.
Finally, there's the AlphaGun X. The AlphaGun is similar to the HyperVolt in design, and both have a powerful brushless motor, quiet-glide technology, strong outer casing and a carrying case. Most of the basic features are the same.
But in addition to that, the AlphaGun X has 30 speed settings instead of 3, up to 5 hours battery life (instead of 3), 8 massage heads (instead of 5) and is cheaper than any of the alternatives discussed so far - its currently on sale for $149.
Unlike many massage devices in the same price range, the AlphaGun X is shipped from the US and delivery is free. Delivery usually takes 3-7 days.
The AlphaGun X has a higher stall force (50lb) and a slightly higher RPM of 3,500, so overall the power level is very similar.
The AlphaGun is slightly heavier at 2.5lb vs 1.8lb - but this is about the average weight for a massage gun.
Compare the HyperVolt and AlphaGun and others here.
However, the combination of up to 10x the number of speeds and more massage heads makes the AlphaGun X capable of a much wider range of massage programs - e.g. for different body parts, for when you're very sore, if you only want a very gentle massage, etc.
Not only does it have a much lower minimum speed (of 1,000 RPM), but you'll be able to increase the intensity much more gradually between the Alpha's 30 speeds compared to the HyperVolt's 3.
Finally, the AlphaGun is currently on sale at $149 (reduced from $299), making it $150 cheaper than the basic HyperVolt 2 and $250 cheaper than the HyperVolt 2 Pro.
Unlike the HyperVolt, this price includes a carry case.
Key reasons to consider the AlphaGun instead:
1. The AlphaGun is at least $150 cheaper than the Theragun. The AlphaGun X comes with 6x more speeds, more heads and longer battery life and costs $150 less than the Theragun Prime (and $250 less than the Theragun Elite).
2. The AlphaGun has 8 massage heads while the HyperVolt has 5. Massage heads come in different shapes and sizes and are designed for different parts of the body - in addition to many more speeds, more heads means the AlphaGun is more adaptable and tailored to your whole body.
3. The AlphaGun has also has 30 speed settings compared to the HyperVolt's 3. The Alpha has an LCD screen where you can select between 30 speeds from very gentle to intense, making it significantly more customizable - gentle when you're particularly sore, intense when required, and at very gradual increases in between.
4. The AlphaGun has a 3,500 RPM motor. The max speed of the AlphaGun X is slightly higher than the HyperVolt's 3,000 max RPM and the minimum speed is much lower - so it has a wider range of speed (massage intensity) settings.
The AlphaGun offers very similar features to the Theragun, but for $150 less and with extra features including more speed settings and more massage heads.
The AlphaGun X also comes with a free carry case.
Both have a 30 day money back guarantee and a one year warranty.
Four key reasons to try the AlphaGun:
1. It's cheaper at $149 compared to $299+ for the HyperVolt
2. The AlphaGun has a digital control panel and 6x as many speed settings
3. The Alpha has more massage heads: 8 compared to 4-6 with the Theragun
4. The AlphaGun has a 3,500 RPM motor and 50lb of stall force - both higher than the Theragun Prime and Elite.
5. The AlphaGun is shipped free from Chicago and usually delivered in about 3-7 days.
So, for a limited time you can get a powerful and versatile massage gun for $150 less by choosing the AlphaGun X.