Tom's Guide Verdict
The Theragun Elite may be costly, but it’s a worthwhile investment that can help anyone to move — and feel — better.
Ergonomic multi-grip design
Closed-cell foam attachments are less painful
QX65 motor allows for 40lbs of pressure without stalling or recoiling
Comprehensive Therabody app
Carrying case is bulky
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Dimensions: 9.5 in x 6.7 in x 2.8 in
Weight: 2.2 pounds
PPM Range: 1750-2400 (5 pre-programed speeds, full range with use of the Therabody App)
Noise level: 60-70 decibels
Battery life: 120 minutes
Battery charge time: 80 minutes
Massage guns like the Theragun Elite have become an increasingly popular option to help athletes and amateurs alike with warm-up, recovery, injury prevention, and muscle repair. The quick percussion from the handheld devices penetrate deep into tissues, promoting relaxation and increased blood flow. Unlike cumbersome foam rollers, they’re much easier to use and generally more effective on difficult-to-reach muscle groups.
Also unlike foam rollers, the best massage guns can be very costly. The Theragun Elite is a Porsche among massage guns, with a price that’s topped only by another Theragun model (the Theragun Pro). As great as the Theragun Elite may be, is it worth the several hundred dollar price tag? Read our full Theragun Elite review below to find out.
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Theragun Elite review: Price & Availability
The Theragun Elite lives up to its high-end moniker: at $399, it’s not only more expensive than comparable massage guns like the TimTam Power Massager and the Hyperice Hypervolt Plus, it’s pricier than large pieces of fitness equipment like the Sunny Health and Fitness Bike, and wearable trackers like the Garmin Forerunner 245.
The Elite’s pricing remains consistent among all the major online retailers, including Therabody’s website. You could always wait for a potential sale, although historically they’re few and far between.
The Theragun Elite is currently available in two colors: white and black. A PRODUCT(RED) version of the gun will be available soon.
Theragun Elite review: Design
The sturdy, triangular structure of the Theragun Elite is a departure from the typical shape of many popular massage guns, like Legiral Le3 or the Hyperice Hypervolt. Contrary to these offerings, the Elite can be held in various ways, allowing users to apply pressure more efficiently and comfortably. I found this multi-grip design especially helpful when targeting hard to reach spots, like my lower back and hamstrings.
At the top of the Theragun Elite you’ll find an OLED screen that displays its current speed, battery life, and an applied force meter. This is a useful feature if you tend to press into your muscle tissue too hard — or, in my case, not hard enough. Up and down arrow controls below the screen allow you to change the Elite’s speed to either 1750, 1900, 2100, 2200, or 2400 percussions per minute. These speeds will work for nearly anywhere on the body, but you can fine-tune your Elite to a more specific PPM using the Therabody App (available for iOS and Android). Left and right arrow controls allow users to toggle between up to three preset treatments.
Theragun claims that the Elite stands apart from the competition with a 16mm amplitude, which allows the shaft of the gun to penetrate into muscle tissue 60% deeper than the average device. While it is true that most guns operate in the 10-14mm range, a few competitors like the Vybe V2 also feature a 16mm amplitude (for a much lower price).
Encased in the Theragun Elite’s body is an insulated QX65 brushless motor and reinforced drive train, which can deliver up to 40 pounds of additional pressure without stalling, reducing speed, or waking up your neighbors.
The Elite, its five attachments, and a power adapter come boxed inside of a hard shell carrying case with various storage compartments. It’s bulky and would take up a considerable amount of room in your gym bag or suitcase. That being said, if I’m paying almost $400 for a massage gun, I’d prefer to have a case that’s bulky and protective over one that’s flimsy and compact. If you’re looking for a massage gun with better portability, take a look at the Theragun Mini.
Theragun Elite review: Attachments
Included with the Theragun Elite are five closed-cell foam attachments: a “dampener” good for especially tender spots or bony areas, a “standard ball” appropriate for both larger and smaller muscle groups, a “wedge” that can be used for “scraping” and “flushing” motions to increase blood flow, a “thumb” that can dig into tough trigger points, and a “cone” for pinpoint muscle treatment on spots like the hands and feet.
At first glance, I was a bit intimidated by a few of the attachments — namely the thumb and cone. Similarly shaped attachments on other guns had proven to be unbearable for me, and I’d tap out way before the recommended usage time was over. Since the Elite’s attachments are constructed from a non-porous foam as opposed to hard plastic, the effect is a much more tolerable, albeit still very powerful, percussive massage. Popping on the cone attachment released a lot of tension in my feet after long runs, and the thumb did a number on my tight TFL (a muscle in the hip region).
There were several instances when I used the wedge on my IT Band (connective tissue that runs along the outside of the thigh), but I found that I mostly stuck with the dampener and standard ball. Still, it’s nice to have the more specialized attachments for specific muscle groups and problem areas.
Theragun Elite review: Performance
The Therabody website presents the Theragun Elite as a device that’s “felt, not heard,” and for the most part, it makes good on that promise. Despite a powerful motor that produces up to 2400 percussions per minute, the Elite never clocked more than 70 decibels while I was using it, and mainly stayed in the 60-63 decibel range. That’s quieter than competitors like the LifePro Fusion FX Heated Percussion Massager and the LifePro Sonic Handheld Percussion Massager, which can get as loud as 75 decibels. There are quieter models on the market, like the 25 decibel TimTam Power Massager, but inevitably you’ll trade sound levels for other factors like battery life.
Speaking of battery life, it’s pretty decent on the Theragun Elite — one full charge of the battery can get you up to two hours of operation. It’s not the longest you’ll find (like the six-hour life of the Sportneer Deep Tissue Muscle Massager), but it’s enough to get you through plenty of use before needing to be recharged. In fact, I only had to plug in the device once for a full week’s worth of testing. When you do run out of battery, the Elite gets back to 100% relatively quickly — it took around an hour to get my model up to a full charge.
Depending on the device, the amount of force you’re using, and the body part you’re targeting, many massage guns have a tendency to recoil or bounce back. This is one of my biggest massage gun pet peeves — I always end up losing control of the gun, which propels me into a momentary panic that I’m about to break it or injure myself. Fortunately, I never experienced any of these dreaded recoils with the Elite. I could rapidly change the amount of pressure I was employing, work around bony areas, and press hard into dense muscle tissue without the shaft ever slowing down or the gun bouncing back.
The Elite’s highest PPM setting is 2400, and that speed felt great on all of my most problematic areas. There are guns that can go faster, but 2400 PPM was more than enough to reduce trigger points and pain in all of my hot spots.
Theragun Elite review: Therabody App
When used in conjunction with the comprehensive Therabody App, the Theragun Elite transforms from a pricey fitness tool that only experts could fully utilize into a revolutionary health aide that can benefit athletes, desk jockeys, and everyone in between.
Opening the Therabody App can be overwhelming at first — an “Explore” section boasts introductory programming, activity-specific warm-up and recovery protocols, routines to help with sleep regulation, regimens for all the major muscle groups, and even plans to help ease the aches associated with travel and jet lag. Despite its formidable nature, it is in this extensive library that lies the key to unlocking all of the Elite’s capabilities.
Turning on the Theragun Elite automatically connects the device via Bluetooth to the Therabody App. Selecting one of the various options from the Explore page will pull up a preview of a program’s targeted areas (like the biceps, lower back, or calves), all the attachments you’ll need, and an estimated completion time. Hit the start button and your Elite will automatically start running at the specified PPM, with a diagram that shows where on the body to place the gun, and a timed countdown for each area. Additionally, the app shows users which grip position is recommended, a force meter that indicates when the appropriate amount of pressure is being applied, and even a few stretches to incorporate after massaging various muscle groups. These programs take all of the guesswork out of using your massage gun correctly and efficiently.
The Therabody App also allows you to delve a little deeper into what your body needs. When connected to your phone’s health app or fitness tracker, the Therabody App will recommend specific programs based on your activities. Completing a “Run Recovery” after a five-mile effort, or a “Cycling Recovery” after an intense spin class, was a game-changer for me — my usual cranky lower back and tight hips were surprisingly quiet and mobile in the hours (and days) after my workout.
You don’t need to be an athlete or even an avid exerciser to find use in the Theragun Elite - there are routines geared towards video gaming recovery, relief for common ailments like sciatica and carpal tunnel, and programs for general wellness.
Thanks to the Therabody App, even the most green of massage gun novices can reap the Elite’s rewards as soon as they take it out of the box.
Theragun Elite review: Verdict
The Theragun Elite is expensive, and it may be hard to fathom spending the same amount of money on a massage gun as you would a mid-range treadmill (or a few month’s worth of utilities), but it’s a worthy investment.
You might think a hefty price tag would indicate that the Theragun Elite should be reserved for those ready to run their fifth triathlon, but I would argue the opposite. Because of the Therabody App, which provides step-by-step guidance and personalized programming, the Elite is an excellent choice for someone who hasn’t thought about their muscles since high school anatomy class.
That’s not to say the experienced athlete wouldn’t also see positive effects from using the Elite. It’s a well-made, high-quality massage gun that has the potential to improve anyone’s range of motion, pain, and overall fitness.
Jennifer Rizzuto is a freelance writer and certified personal trainer based in Long Island, NY. She covers various fitness-related topics and reviews for Tom's Guide. She also writes sketch comedy and short films, and performs frequently as an actor, singer, and improviser. When she's not writing, working out, or performing, you'll find her trying to convince her husband to get a dog.