- What Is Percussion Therapy?
- How Does the ExoGun Massager Work?
- ExoGun Accessories and Attachments
- Technical Specifications
- Percussion Therapy vs. Regular Massage
- When to Use a Percussion Massage Gun
- ExoGun vs. Theragun
- Hypervolt vs. ExoGun
- Frequently Asked Questions
- ExoGun Review – Wrap-Up
The ExoGun DreamPro is a powerful percussion massage device that has helped both my wife and me relieve painful muscle tension, stop muscle spasms and recover quicker after strenuous workouts.
It’s been almost a year since we first got our hands on the ExoGun. In this review, I wanted to share my impressions of the device and give you an idea of how it compares to some of the other popular brands on the market, including Theragun and Hypervolt.
Before we get into the details, let’s talk about the basics real quick!
- The device feels solid and well-made
- Excellent battery life
- Outstanding value (when on sale)
- I’d prefer a dedicated on/off switch
- The carrying case is a bit flimsy
- Insufficient documentation
What Is Percussion Therapy?
Percussion therapy — also sometimes referred to as vibration therapy — is a massage method that aims to improve muscle function and recovery times by deeply pressing into the muscle tissue with a series of rapid, concentrated pulsating strokes.
The basic concept behind percussion therapy is the same as that of a traditional tissue massage.
The goal of either form of therapy is to:
- Increase blood flow
- Reduce soreness
- Alleviate muscle pain
- Release tension in muscle tissue
- Increase range of motion
If you’ve ever seen construction workers tearing up pavement with a jackhammer, you get the idea. Obviously, a massage device like the ExoGun is non-invasive and won’t inflict permanent damage.
How Does the ExoGun Massager Work?
The ExoGun resembles the shape of a gun (like an Uzi). Inside the device, there’s a relatively quiet yet powerful motor that delivers between 1,200 and 3,200 percussions (or strokes) per minute.
Combined with one of the four included attachments, you can use the ExoGun to massage any muscle group, tissue or joint in your body.
The ExoGun percussion massager even comes with a fork attachment to work the sensitive muscles that are attached to your spine.
To get started, all you have to do is turn on the device, select one of the six available speed settings, and start massaging your sore muscle groups.
Besides the vibration speed range, you can influence the intensity of the therapy by applying more or less pressure. Note that the maximum pressure you can apply is 60 pounds — any more and the motor will stall out.
ExoGun Accessories and Attachments
The review unit I received came with four attachments, a charger and a carrying case.
While each attachment (or head) serves a specific purpose, my wife and I have been mostly using the sphere — a ball-shaped head attachment meant for larger muscle groups. The other massage heads include:
- Large Ball: It’s the most commonly used attachment and was designed to treat both large and medium muscle groups.
- Flat Head: This is a great multipurpose attachment. From the pecs to the glutes, the flathead is able to provide a denser massage compared to the large ball. Because it doesn’t have any sharp edges, it won’t hurt quite as much if you accidentally run over bones while massaging.
- Bullet: Best used on trigger points or knots. This attachment is great to really focus on one particular spot on the body — areas of the shoulders or different ligament attachment points, for instance.
- Fork Head: The dual-pronged head allows you to target areas such as the spine without hitting the bone. It can also be used for other areas, like the calf muscles or along the Achilles tendon.
Overall, I feel like the leaflet that comes with the ExoGun doesn’t provide sufficient information on how to use the device and its attachments. I guess you can figure most of it out by trial and error, but it would be much easier to have a detailed description of each attachment and its ideal use cases.
The ExoGun also comes with a lightweight carrying case that’s a bit flimsy, in my opinion. The lightweight nature of the case has pros and cons. On the bright side, it doesn’t add a ton of weight when you lug the device around. On the other hand, it’s not as protective as a case made out of hard plastic.
When shopping for and comparing percussion massage devices, there are certain technical specifications you should take into account, including:
- Speed (or percussions per minute)
- Stroke length (or amplitude)
- Max force (or stall force)
- Battery life
Percussions per Minute
Some vendors describe the speed of their devices in percussions per second (PPS) or Hertz (Hz). Others give you the number of percussions per minute. ExoGun offers six speed settings with a range of 20 to 53 percussions per second or 1,200 to 3,200 percussions per minute (PPM).
If you do the math, you’ll realize that 20 X 60 seconds = 1,200, and 53 X 60 seconds = ~3,200.
Here’s a table that shows the exact frequencies of the brushless high-torque motor in each speed setting, in case you’re interested:
Personally, I think having six different speed settings is plenty. I’d even be OK having fewer options. So far, both my wife and I have been perfectly fine with the first three settings.
ExoGun’s stroke length is 16mm or 0.63 inches. That’s how far the attachment head travels back and forth, and it’s pretty standard based on what I’ve seen from other devices.
The maximum force (or “stall force”) of the motor that’s built into ExoGun is 60 pounds. That means if you apply more pressure than that, the motor will turn off.
Depending on your threshold for pain, 60 pounds is plenty of pressure to get the desired therapeutic results — especially when compared to the amount of pressure massage therapists can create using their hands.
However, there might be certain cases involving larger muscle groups where more pressure would be beneficial (especially if you have a high pain threshold).
Battery Life and Charging Time
According to ExoGun, the device lasts up to four hours on a full charge, depending on the speed setting and the amount of pressure you apply. I assume you’ll only get four hours out of a charge on the lowest speed setting, but I haven’t done exact measurements yet.
What I can tell you so far is two things:
- Since charging the device on the day we received it, we have yet to charge it again.
- As you increase the pressure by pushing down on the device against your body, you can see the remaining run-time indicator go down — proof that the pressure you apply directly influences the device’s battery life.
When the shipment arrived, I took the gun out of its box and started testing it on various sore muscles.
Later that day, I plugged the charging cable into the ExoGun and let it charge for a couple of hours. That was the only time we charged the battery over the last few weeks. However, I should mention that we only used the device for a few minutes per day, to work on specific areas.
In case you’re wondering, charging the battery from 0% to 100% takes approximately two hours.
What I Would Improve
No product is perfect, and there’s always room for improvement. If I was in charge of product design, I’d reconsider the pistol-like shape in favor of a more ergonomic grip (like the Theragun has).
The other thing that I would improve is the documentation to include more information about how to use ExoGun and its various attachment heads.
Last but not least, I’d prefer a dedicated on/off switch over long-pressing the non-tactile combo switch that’s also used for changing the speed settings.
Complaints From Other Users
Since I published this review in April 2020, several ExoGun customers have reached out to me complaining about quality issues with their device that ExoGun’s customer care team was either unable or unwilling to resolve.
My first ExoGun was a review unit, and some readers suggested that I might have gotten a higher-quality device than what a regular customer would receive. As a result, I purchased another ExoGun from the company’s online stone at my own expense.
In other words, I wanted to see what the end-user experience would be like.
I’ve been using my new ExoGun since November of 2020 (i.e., the one I purchased rather than the review unit), and I have not experienced any of the issues other customers have reported, such as a bad battery life and failure to power on.
While that doesn’t mean there aren’t quality issues with the device, I haven’t encountered them with either of the two models I own.
How Much Is ExoGun?
According to the official webpage, the ExoGun DreamPro has an MSRP of $599.00. That’s nuts, in my opinion — but in line with some of the other brands that I looked at.
The good news is that you probably won’t have to shell out $600, because there seems to be a sale going on (without a defined expiration date) that offers the massage gun for a very reasonable $149.00.
That’s a great value for what you’re getting, and especially so when compared to competing brands that offer percussion therapy devices with similar specifications at much higher price points. Even better, you can use the promo code MICHAEL10OFF to get an extra 10% off.
Frankly, if I was a professional athlete, I might consider paying up to $600 for a device that can shorten my muscle recovery time and even reduce my risk of injury. However, as someone who is “just” a serious fitness enthusiast, the return on investment (ROI) diminishes after the $200 price point.
That’s why I hope ExoGun keeps their promo pricing around for a while. At less than $150, it’s almost a no-brainer for people like me who work out several times a week. But even if you don’t, and just enjoy massages because they make you feel good, a percussion therapy device might be the more cost-effective option.
Percussion Therapy vs. Regular Massage
Speaking of massages, you might be wondering if percussion therapy is better or more effective than a traditional massage.
From a scientific perspective, both vibration therapy and regular massages are equally effective in the prevention of delayed onset muscle soreness, according to a study from 2014.
|Improves recovery and soreness||✓||✓|
|Involves human touch||✘||✓|
But the effectiveness of each method isn’t the only factor to consider. Getting a massage involves human touch and often a tranquil environment with essential oils and soothing music. You can replicate the latter while using a percussion gun, but it’s not the same as being touched by another human.
On the bright side, massages are usually expensive and the cost involved quickly exceeds that of the price of a percussion massager.
The other advantage of using a device like the ExoGun is that you can use it pretty much any time, without the need to make an appointment and wait for availability.
Of course, this doesn’t need to be an either/or choice. While my wife and I will continue using the ExoGun as part of our recovery program, we’ll likely also continue getting massages from time to time.
When to Use a Percussion Massage Gun
When the first percussion guns came to market, you had to have a good reason to buy one, considering their price tag. As a result, such devices only made sense for certain groups of people (like professional athletes).
Now that you can get a high-quality massage gun for under $200, more people can enjoy their benefits.
So here are some of the use cases I see for cordless devices like the ExoGun:
- As an alternative to recreational massage therapy or soft tissue massage.
- If you suffer from chronic muscle pain.
- To loosen up your lower back or neck muscles — for example, if you sit a lot.
- As a recovery tool for professional or amateur athletes.
- As a general muscle massager — for example, if you have tired legs at the end of a long day at work.
I started using ExoGun before workouts, to get the blood flowing and to get my muscles prepared. I also use it after workouts, if I feel sore or if I tweaked something. Additionally, I use my percussion massager at my desk when I feel like my neck could use a low impact massage.
ExoGun vs. Theragun
One of the most popular percussion therapy devices on the market is the Theragun. While I don’t own one, some of my fellow CrossFitters do. As such, I figured, it would be a good idea to compare the brands.
Note that Theragun offers three different models at various price points and with different specs — the G3PRO, G3, and liv.
|Percussions per minute||Up to 3,200||Up to 2.400||Up to 2,400||2,400|
|Battery life||240 min||75 min||60 min||45 min|
|Amplitude||16 mm||16 mm||16 mm||16 mm|
|Max force||60 lb||60 lb||40 lb||30 lb|
|Weight||2.5 lbs||3.1 lbs||2.7 lbs||2.5 lbs|
As you can see in the table above, the G3PRO best compares to the ExoGun from a technical specifications perspective.
However, there are some major differences I’d like to point out.
Percussions per Second
The ExoGun has six different speed settings. The G3PRO only has two. Personally, I don’t think that’s a big issue because I have yet to use more than two or three of the six speed settings on the ExoGun. In other words, I’d be perfectly fine with the two speed options.
Where I think the Theragun has a leg up is in the ergonomics department. I can imagine that the adjustable arm and multi-grip make it easier and more convenient to use when treating hard-to-reach spots like your back.
That’s particularly true if you use the device on your own body.
However, the Theragun is 0.6 pounds heavier than the ExoGun. So you might fatigue quicker, and the more ergonomically designed grip might not make up for the extra weight.
The ExoGun clearly blows the Theragun out of the water when it comes to battery life. Each of the two swappable battery packs you get with the Theragun last for only about 75 minutes.
In comparison, you can get up to 240 minutes of battery life out of the ExoGun.
Practically speaking, you can charge one Theragun battery while using the other. So as long as you keep swapping and charging, you’ll probably be fine (despite the much shorter battery life).
If you compare the actual prices both guns sell for and ignore the ridiculous MSRPs, the ExoGun is the clear winner.
I can buy three ExoGuns for the price of one Theragun G3PRO. That said, maybe the Theragun lasts three times as long as the ExoGun. I don’t think so, but I haven’t had my ExoGun long enough to know for sure.
In summary, if someone from my CrossFit box asked me which massage gun to buy, I’d recommend the ExoGun — as long as it’s available for $150.
Hypervolt vs. ExoGun
Hypervolt is another popular percussive massager (available in two models) that I’ve seen some athletes use.
While I don’t have any hands-on experience with the device, here’s a quick comparison table based on its specifications and a chat with the company’s customer support:
|Percussions per minute||Up to 3,200||Up to 3,200||Up to 3,200|
|Battery life||240 min||180 min||180 min|
|Travel case||✓||Not included||Not included|
|Max force||60 lb||N/A||N/A|
|Weight||2.5 lbs||2.5 lbs||2.5 lbs|
Unfortunately, Hyperice (the company that makes the Hypervolt) isn’t incredibly forthcoming with some of the device’s key specifications. For example, the company doesn’t share the amplitude or stall force, two major factors in percussion therapy.
Speed and Percussions per Minute
Hypervolt offers three distinct speed settings, delivering 2,000, 2,600 and 3,200 RPMs. These three speed settings roughly match ExoGun’s speed settings 3, 4-5 and 6.
Hypervolt’s battery is listed as lasting up to three hours, but according to the company’s own FAQ, you can expect about two hours on average.
That’s better than Theragun but not quite at the level of ExoGun.
Amplitude and Stall Force
When I pressed the company to release the stall force, they responded with: “Ok so we don’t measure stall forces because the motors are made to withstand any force.”
What a load of crap. That’s physically impossible.
When I pushed further, I got the following (more reasonable but still unsatisfactory) response:
We currently do not have that measurement available. Here at Hyperice, we measure the power of our products with the combination of factors that we found were optimal for use on the human body, including percussions per minute (up to 3200), battery life (3.5 hours) and our brushless 60-watt motor.
Our engineers and product team has undergone a lot of testing and our Hypervolt does not stall under use on the human body, and we have found the pounds of pressure is comparable with others on the market. If you have any other product questions, we would be happy to answer them!
I’ll try to get my hands on one of these devices to see if I can gauge the real stall force and amplitude. For now, I wouldn’t buy from a company that is incapable of releasing such basic information.
Hypervolt is available for $349 directly from hyperice.com or for $359.99 on Amazon*. The Plus version is $50 more expensive but includes a 90 watt motor instead of the 60 watt motor that comes in the standard device.
Note that if you buy Hypervolt on Amazon, you also get a travel case!
Frequently Asked Questions
Our kids (four and six years old) have used ExoGun both on their own bodies as well as on ours. The user manual says it’s for adult use only, but as long as you’re careful, I don’t see why kids over a certain age can’t use it.
I don’t think they need percussion therapy, but I also don’t think it’ll do any harm.
Based on scientific studies, both methods are equally effective in reducing muscle soreness. So it’s ultimately a personal choice which method to use. From a financial perspective, I prefer percussion therapy — but I also enjoy human touch more than a device.
A brushless motor uses electromagnetic force to operate. That makes it less noisy and more efficient. Some of the cheaper massage guns on the market use brushed motors. As a result, they’re louder and offer less battery life. So I’d recommend staying away from those.
I haven’t tried that myself, but based on what I’ve found on Amazon*, it looks like the attachments from other manufacturers might fit (including the ones from Hypervolt).
ExoGun is headquartered in Hong Kong.
The company claims that priming the built-in lithium ion battery extends its use and improves its performance. However, based on what I know about batteries, this strategy was only useful to older battery technologies, such as nickel cadmium (NiCd).
Lithium ion batteries have max capacity available from the beginning, and you don’t need to charge them before the first use.
ExoGun Review – Wrap-Up
At its current price point, the ExoGun DreamPro is an excellent percussion therapy device that can reduce your recovery time and the onset of muscle soreness. It also feels incredibly good on sore, fatigued or tense muscles.
What I really like about massage guns, in general, is that I can use them any time I want to (and without depending on someone else). To me, that makes ExoGun one of those gadgets that while I never knew I needed it, I would no longer want to go without it.
Do you own a percussion therapy gun or have questions about it? If so, let me know by leaving a comment below.