Have you ever had a massage therapist chop away at your quads or pecs like John Wick going to town on some poor sap’s face? If so, you know it hurts—but in a good way. Especially if you’re a longtime lifter whose muscles are riddled with knotty, trigger points associated with months and years of steady effort in the gym.

A few years back some techy types posed the question: what if you could pound a muscle yourself—way faster, way harder, and with little to no effort

Enter the massage gun, a handheld, rechargeable device that can thump away, up to 2500 times a minute, for as long as you can endure it. 

“The first models were basically repurposed jigsaws,” says Tom Pepe, CEO of TimTam, one of the top players in the industry. But recently, manufacturers have refined them in response to the burgeoning demand for fancy recovery tools (think knobby foam rollers, cryotherapy, and e-stim). “We started in 2016, with 500 units, and we sold them out, to 30 countries in 40 days,” says Pepe. In the last year, he sold nearly a million of them.  

Give a massager a try—run it over your upper traps, quads, calves, or any other tight muscle group—and it’s easy to see why they’re so popular. Within a few minutes, a massage gun can effectively work over a large muscle group, loosening tissue, increasing blood flow, and temporarily easing pain and soreness. 

And you don’t have to tip them at the end. 

But will pounding on your muscles actually aid you in your quest to build muscle, burn fat, and lift more weight? And are they worth the (sometimes significant) price? 

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