The Ironman IFT 1000 Inversion Table is the earliest model in their collection to offer Far Infrared Therapy (FIR) together with a full 180 degree inversion range.
In this review we’ll be taking a closer look at how this heat technology works, the design features, and assembly process to help you decide if this is the best choice of inversion table for your own home gym.
We’ll also be making some important comparisons between the IFT 1000 and the higher priced IFT 4000, as well as one of the bestselling models from Teeter Hang Ups.
Design and safety features
Featuring a heavy-duty tubular steel frame and powder coated scratch-resistant finish for enhanced durability, the Ironman IFT 1000 is a strong and stable design with a 275 lb capacity.
Similar to the Gravity 3000, you can also choose from three different starting positions, which serve to increase or decrease the range of motion to suit your experience level.
Unfortunately you’re missing the ratchet locking system and base handles for stretching, relying instead on a shorter T-pin to release the ankle holders.
It’s worth mentioning that both the ratchet system (longer handle to reduce the need to bend down), and the stretching handles have been included on the later IFT 4000 model.
There’s also a wide range of height settings, letting you find the perfect pivot point for your height and weight distribution. This should be such that raising your hands above your head from a near upright position will begin the inversion.
The full-length safety handles is something you’ll find on all of the Ironman inversion tables, but something that’s missing from the Teeter Hang Ups designs.
These can be extremely useful in helping you regain an upright position after being inverted for longer sessions.
You’ll also find a nylon strap with carabiner clips on the underside of the back support, joining it to the double U-frame. This is to restrict the inversion angle for anyone that’s new to this type of therapy.
Unfortunately if more than one person will be using the table and you’re different heights, you may need to make adjustments to the strap length if you’re different heights and ability levels.
While height adjustments for the back support are simple due to the clearly labelled settings, there’s no equivalent for the Nylon strap. This means it can take a bit of trial and error to find your desired length.
Although you do have the rubber stabilizers in each corner at the base of the frame, they’re not as long as the stabilizers you’ll find on the Ironman Gravity inversion tables.
This doesn’t lead to any instability in the frame, but the extra width you get with the Gravity models increases the surface area that’s in contact with the floor. In turn, this increases the friction and does a much better job of preventing any unwanted movement.
Ironman IFT 1000 – Features Summary
- Inversion therapy table with advanced FIR heat technology
- Ultra-thin carbon fiber heating elements in backrest help soothe muscles
- Reduces back pain and fatigue while increasing blood circulation
- Inverts to 180 degrees
- Supports 275 pounds
- Folds for easy storage
- Extra-long safety handles
- Mesh pocket for remote control
How the advanced FIR heat technology works
A study published in the Pain Research and Management journal in 2006 assessed the degree of back pain relief that was possible by applying infrared energy to the lower back in patients with chronic lower back pain.
A group of patients from the Rothbart Pain Management Clinic in North York, Ontario was monitored over the course of six years.
There were 40 participants in the study, with 21 of them assigned to an IR therapy group, and 18 in a placebo group (one person dropped out of the study).
It’s important to note that the IR therapy was applied via a waistband, meaning the warmth generated was very close to the skin.
Each subject was asked at the beginning of the study to rate their level of pain on a level from 1 to 10 on a numerical rating scale, with 1 being virtually no pain to 10 being unbearable.
The average of these scores was then calculated across each group, with 6.9 being average for those in the IR group, and 7.4 being average for those in the placebo.
The results showed a fall from 6.9 out of 10 to 3 out of 10 for the IR group, and 7.4 out of 10 to 6 out of 10 for the placebo.
Although both groups showed a decrease, this equates to a 56% decrease in back pain for those using IR therapy, and just a 19% decrease for those in the placebo group.
The Ironman IFT 1000 works on the same principle, providing a soothing heat of up to 140 degrees Fahrenheit via the Far Infrared Therapy (FIR).
How high you want the temperature to go depends on the setting you choose via the remote control, and is achieved using carbon fiber heating elements inside the back support.
Unfortunately the only way you can see the current temperature is by stepping off the table, as the LED controller display is positioned on the underside of the table.
There is however a mesh pocket sewn into the cloth to keep the remote within easy reach, so you can make adjustments without having to release the ankle holders.
Comfort and cushioning
Whether you’re looking for an inversion table to help with flexibility, or as a form of therapy for back pain, it’s important to feel comfortable throughout the session.
The IFT 1000 offers 1″ thick padding in the back support, with ergonomically molded ankle cushions to help reduce any discomfort at full inversion.
A vinyl coating has also been applied to the back support, which has been double stitched to help improve durability.
However, the difference in cushioning is also one of the biggest differences we noticed when comparing the IFT 1000 with the IFT 4000.
For the 4000 model, a 2.5″ thick rib design replaces the 1″ of foam padding found in the IFT 1000. Although this still isn’t memory foam like the Gravity 4000 inversion table, it’s a significant improvement and something worth bearing in mind when deciding which one to buy.
Ironman IFT 1000 vs. IFT 4000
With a price difference of around $100 between the two tables, we wanted to take a quick look at the features you miss out on by choosing the lower priced model.
Firstly, by opting for the IFT 4000 the ankle locking system gets upgraded in a similar way to the jump between Ironman’s 1000 and 4000 Gravity inversion tables.
The IFT 1000 uses a shorter handle that’s spring loaded, meaning you have to reach down further to lock and release the heel holders.
In contrast the IFT 4000 uses a ratchet locking system, with a much longer handle reducing the distance you need to reach. This is a bonus for anyone suffering from lower back pain that doesn’t want to place unnecessary stress on the muscles.
The 300 lb weight capacity is also slight lower than the 350 lbs offered by the IFT 4000, although the height range for each model is identical at between 4’9″ and 6’6″.
With the IFT 4000 we’re also seeing the return of the handles attached to the base frame, which are designed to help you stretch your back muscles when fully inverted. This is something that’s missing from the IFT 1000.
Both tables offer the full length safety handles, 180 degree inversion range, and maximum temperature of 140 degrees for the Infrared Heat Therapy elements.
Warranty coverage is also the same for both models.
There’s one final difference we wanted to highlight, which is the comfort provided by the back support cushioning.
At first glance you’ll notice how much wider the back support for the IFT 4000 is, which is one of the reasons it’s better suited to the higher weight capacity. But you’re also going to benefit from a ribbed cushioning system that’s thicker than the 1″ foam used on the Ironman IFT 1000.
Key takeaway: The IFT 4000 would be the better option for anyone that wants maximum comfort and minimum strain on the lower back during inversion therapy sessions. The IFT 1000 is a good option for lower budgets and anyone with a slightly higher level of mobility that still wants to benefit from FIR heat technology.
Comparison with Teeter Hang Ups
The most obvious difference between the Ironman inversion tables and the inversion tables from Teeter Hang Ups is the price, making it difficult to find a model that closely matches the IFT 1000 for our comparisons.
Although it usually retails for closer to the $300 mark, the standard Teeter EP-560 (not the Sport Edition), is one of their lower priced models, and the one that we’ll be comparing against.
So when you’re choosing an inversion table, weight capacity, stability, inversion range, and warranty coverage are likely to be what you look at when weighing up the benefits of different models.
The Teeter EP 560 has the same 300 lb weight capacity as the IFT 1000 Infrared Therapy table, made possible by the added frame width created by the corner feet and steel frame.
Both models also have an inversion range of 180 degrees, or 90 degrees from the horizontal depending on which measure you go by.
The user height range that each table supports is vertically identical, with the EP 560 offering settings for 4’8″ to 6’6″ and the IFT 1000 ranging from 4’9″ to 6’6″.
But that’s really where the similarities end, with important differences between warranty coverage, the size of the folded footprint, and the optional accessories.
Differences in the inversion
Although the Teeter EP 560 has the same inversion range as the IFT 1000, it actually offers something that the Ironman inversion tables don’t. This is the option of a secure lock-out at full inversion, allowing you to perform a host of additional calisthenics exercises using your bodyweight.
This includes crunches, sit-ups, and side twists, with the curve in the base frame ideally positioned for stretching in a similar way to the Ironman Gravity 3000.
The Teeter Hang Ups model also includes an instructional DVD to guide you through how to get the most from your inversion therapy sessions, featuring 5 healthy back routines.
A certain level of customization is also available if you have the budget, with Gravity Boots, Traction Handles, and a Vibration Cushion all available separately.
But one of the main differences between the two models is the storage options. As you’ll discover in the next section of our review, the IFT 1000 is fairly limited when it comes to upright storage.
The EP 560 fares much better, featuring a free standing design that folds in just a few seconds, with the back support and heel holders fully vertical and a footprint of just 20″ (L) x 28.8″ (W) x 66″ (H).
Warranty coverage for the Teeter 560 is amongst the best in the industry, with 5 years full coverage compared to the 1 year on frame and 90 days on parts you get with the Ironman IFT 1000.
Ease of assembly and storage options
Despite being produced by the same company, the assembly instructions for the IFT 1000 are slightly different to those for the Gravity collection of inversion tables.
The diagrams that show how all the parts fit together are slightly smaller in the IFT user manual, making the parts numbers more difficult to read.
However, each step does include a useful section that shows which tools and parts you’ll need to complete it, which is something that’s missing from the Gravity user manuals.
On balance we have to say we prefer the Ironman IFT manual, as you can work around the small diagrams issue by viewing the user manual online, then zooming in on the diagrams via your tablet, smartphone, or PDF reader.
User manual: Click here to view the Ironman IFT 1000 manual and see the steps involved
As with the other Ironman inversion tables we’ve reviewed, all of the tools you need to complete the assembly are included in the box.
The bulk of the double U-frame assembly has been completed for you prior to delivery, which does cut down on the time it takes to get setup.
There’s not a great deal of heavy lifting involved, other than to mount the bed frame (back support section) up onto the double U-frame. At 50 lbs it does weigh in slightly heavier than the Gravity 1000 model, but significantly lighter than the 2000 (65 lbs) and 4000 (75 lbs) models.
There’s not a great deal of difference between the Gravity tables and the IFT 1000 in terms of the assembly process, which is why we would recommend the same setup time of 45-60 minutes.
Folding and storage
Despite being listed as a folding design, as we found with Ironman’s Gravity collection of inversion tables, this doesn’t necessarily mean completely flat.
Although the frame can certainly be folded without separating the two main frame sections, the result won’t be freestanding. You’ll have to find a wall or solid surface that you can lean it up against until your next session.
Also, due to the frame design and angle of the boom when the U-Frames are brought together, the heel holders are going to be left at an awkward position, meaning you’ll have to lean it somewhere out of the way.
So as we see it you really have three options for storage between sessions:
- 1. Pull the U-Frame sections together and lean it somewhere out of the way to prevent knocking the heel holders as you walk past
- 2. Separate the adjustable boom section from the U-frame. This allows you to lay the parts nearly flat, but does require considerable effort.
- 3. Find a space where you can leave the table setup permanently so that it’s always ready for a quick session in the morning or evening
If it was us making the decision we would strike out the second option fairly quickly, then choose from either option one or option three, depending on the availability of space at home.
While in-depth product reviews like ours can be invaluable for highlighting important features and key differences between different models, it’s also useful to find out about what the pros and cons are from a larger audience.
That’s why we’ll always take a look at the reviews available on larger ecommerce sites like Amazon, to see if there are any issues that might be worth mentioning, or benefits we haven’t covered already.
But with the most popular products having well over 100 reviews (the Ironman IFT 1000 included), it can be a time consuming process if you have to read through each of them and filter out the unique information.
To save you time we’ve read through many of these reviews ourselves, then gathered these pros and cons and put them together in the lists below.
- Easy assembly
- Relieves pain and pressure in your neck and lower back
- A lower priced alternative to chiropractors and spinal injections, which has also been more beneficial in many cases
- Range of height settings lets you perfectly balance the inversion against your height and weight
- Infrared heat allows your muscles to relax more prior to your session
- Sturdy frame design
- Nylon safety strap lets you restrict the inversion angle to suit your experience level
- Heel holders feel completely secure, even when fully inverted
- Remote control is convenient for making adjustments to the FIR settings while inverted
- Competitively priced around the same level as their bestselling Ironman Gravity 4000
- Extra long handrails for added safety
- Not as heavy as some inversion tables (Ironman ATIS collection)
- Not able to see the heat settings because the unit is mounted on the back
- Flat storage required more effort than anticipated for some people, mainly caused by having to separate two of the larger frame sections
- Adjustable boom does not lock in place at specific inversion angles
- Quite a large footprint when setup, and difficult to move around
What’s covered by the warranty?
- Frame: 1 year
- Parts: 90 days