Massages are commonplace for professional athletes like runners, cyclists and basketball players, but for the rest of us, they’re still a luxury. The good news is, there are tools you can buy to mimic a massage — and they’re easy to use. The Hyperice Hypervolt 2 Pro and Theragun PRO (from the rebranded Therabody) are the two highest-profile percussion massage guns on the market right now — and these top-of-the-line products from the top names in recovery are ripe for a head-to-head comparison.
Which Brand Makes the Best Recovery Tool?
To figure out whether the Hypervolt or the Theragun is right for you, we compared the newest model from each brand on four factors — design, charging, performance and price.
Spoiler alert: All things being equal, we prefer the Theragun PRO for it's user-friendly ergonomics and greater range of angles, attachments and intensity, though penny pinchers, beware — it's noticeably more expensive than the competition.
The Hypervolt 2 Pro, meanwhile, isn't just cheaper — it's actually more powerful, too, topping out at 2,700 percussions per minute (the Theragun PRO maxes out at 2,400 PPM). It also offers a steady stream of power regardless of battery life, while the PRO sees diminished performance as the battery drains.
If neither fall within your budget, both Hypervolt and Theragun offer more accessible alternatives: Theragun offers the Mini ($199), Prime ($299) and Elite ($399). Hyperice offers the Hypervolt Go ($199), the classic Hypervolt ($249), the Hypervolt 2 ($299) and the Hypervolt Plus ($329).
How We Tested
Test 1: Design
The Theragun PRO's on/off button is user-friendly and in a logical spot, and the ergonomics of the handle make sense. The four different angles of the arm also provide added range, so it's easier to hit upper back muscles. While there are five built-in speeds (1750 to 2400 PPM), you can also customize it via the Bluetooth-connected app to any speed within that range. The look may have you thinking you're about to re-do a deck, but the smooth design fits great in the hands.
While its form factor is similar to previous editions — with a closer resemblance to, say, Thor's hammer — the Hypervolt 2 Pro is notably more streamlined that its predecessors, making it easier to hold and move. Operation is also more user-friendly: flip the on/off switch at the base of the handle, then simply turn a dial on the back to seamlessly toggle through the speeds (1700 to 2700 PPM).
The Theragun PRO comes with a carrying case that also accommodates six attachments, two rechargeable Lithium-ion batteries and a charging cable (all included). Separate but notable accessories include Duo Adapter Sets ($49+) and a Wireless Charging Stand ($79).
The Hypervolt 2 Pro comes with a carrying case just for its five attachments, not the whole unit, plus a charging cable and international adapters. Accessories are currently limited to additional charging cables. The brand does not currently offer a charging base like it does for previous models but says one will be available next year.
Both products feature handy lights on the back (plus, in the Hypervolt 2 Pro's case, at the base of the handle) that indicate battery life, force applied and speed selected. And both are small and solid enough that they can easily be thrown in your gym bag — without a carrying case. The Theragun PRO weighs 2.9 pounds, just a bit more than the Hypervolt 2 Pro, at 2.6 pounds.
Best Design: Theragun PRO
While we are impressed with the improvements Hyperice has made over earlier editions, the Theragun PRO still gets the nod for its natural ergonomics and intuitive interface.
Test 2: Charging
The Hypervolt 2 Pro is Hyperice's first to feature a removable battery (pull a tab and you can detach the entire handle housing it), but you only get one and you can't currently buy another, so there's not much value added there just yet. However, we inquired with the brand and were informed that additional batteries will be available next year.
As previously mentioned, the Theragun PRO comes with two Lithium-ion battery packs — both of which look like they belong on a workbench — plus a battery charging cable. Similar to a power drill, the battery slides in and out of the larger handle. The benefit here is that when one battery dies, you can swap it out for the other.
The Theragun PRO offers 150 minutes of battery life per charge (300 if you count both batteries), while the Hypervolt 2 Pro offers 180 minutes. Not unlike a power tool, the PRO starts to slow down after a lot of continuous use and/or when its charge level dips below 50 percent. The Hypervolt 2 Pro, on the other hand, supplies steady power even as its charge level drops.
Best Charge: Hypervolt 2 Pro
Another close contest. While we love Theragun PRO's dual-battery system, Hypervolt 2 Pro claims the edge for its more consistent power flow.
Test 3: Performance
Larger muscles like glutes, hamstring and quads can handle the higher levels of intensity on both the Hypervolt 2 Pro and Theragun PRO, while smaller muscles, like calves, call for lower levels and a light touch. Your body feels vibrations differently, mostly depending on receptors from your brain, so both massagers take some getting used to, especially if you have never used one before.
Some of what follows reiterates earlier notes, but it also allows us to really dig into the performance differences between these two products.
The Hypervolt 2 Pro pairs with the Hyperice app via Bluetooth and offers five head attachments and five pre-set speeds and an amplitude — essentially, the distance the shaft moves in and out — of 14 millimeters. The latter two traits are steps up over the previous edition, which had three speeds and 12 mm of amplitude.
The Theragun PRO pairs with the Therabody app, allowing you to further customize the vibrations, selecting any speed between 1,750 to 2,400 PPMs. It also offers six head attachments, four head angles and an amplitude of 16 mm.
The Hypervolt 2 Pro holds a slight edge in top speed, 2,700 PPMs. Both brands have taken pains to make their products run less loudly at any speed. Theragun calls its tech QuietForce while Hyperice goes with QuietGlide. While the two guns are hardly silent, the Hypervolt 2 Pro is slightly less resonant.
Best Performance: Theragun PRO
Again we love the strides made by Hyperice with its latest product, but Theragun PRO wins out for its greater range of angles and attachments, deeper amplitude and more adjustable intensity.
Test 4: Price
It's impossible to ignore the fact that the Theragun PRO costs significantly more than the Hypervolt 2 Pro: $599 vs. $399.
The features and value-adds outlined in the previous categories clearly play a role here. Theragun PRO simply offers more and is more than willing to charge for it. Some of these traits, such as the more advanced performance features and extra battery, help justify the additional cost. Other value-adds deserve some skepticism however: does getting six attachments rather than the Hypervolt 2 Pro's five make much difference if you, like us, only use three or four of them anyway?
As noted above, both brands offer more accessible alternatives: Other Theraguns include the Mini ($199), Prime ($299) and Elite ($399). Additional Hyperice options include the Hypervolt Go ($199), the classic Hypervolt ($249), the Hypervolt 2 ($299) and the Hypervolt Plus ($329).
Best Price: Hypervolt 2 Pro
Hypervolt 2 Pro claims this category for going much easier on your wallet — a full $200 or 33 percent easier, depending how you'd like to slice it.
Why Theragun Ultimately Wins
The results here kind of speak for themselves, and you can prioritize accordingly. If gorgeous design and unmatched customizability are paramount, the Theragun PRO is your choice. If over-the-top power and a lower price point are key, the Hypervolt 2 Pro is ideal. You can't go wrong with either, but when push comes to shove and we must choose the best, it's gotta be the considerably more premium Theragun PRO.
How to Use a Massage Gun
Handheld massage tools are like foam rollers on steroids, and research has shown that using one can help eliminate delayed-onset muscle soreness, also known as DOMS.
Going out on a long run? Use a massage gun along your major muscle groups (hamstrings, quads, calves) for roughly 15 seconds before exercising and then use for up to two minutes on all those same groups post-workout.
Keep in mind, there are times you still might want to schedule a good old-fashioned massage. A 2014 study published by the National Center for Biotechnology Information concluded that while percussion guns are faster, a trained human can work nuanced wonders: "They can be used as an alternative to each other depending on the requirement and condition. But the difference in time taken for the execution of the treatment can play a pivotal role. Situations where time is the essence, vibration can be used and in other[s] the concerned therapist’s skill and choice may decide the interventions."