When conducting my research to find the inversion table that would best suit my needs, I came across a few terms that confused me. Specifically, there were references to “inversion angle,” “angle locking device,” and “locking out.”
It led me to investigate further in order to make things more clear before I committed to purchase one table over another. A necessary, time consuming task, but now that it is complete, I want to share the results of my investigation with you, in case you’re facing similar confusion, and you might be, because different manufacturers and distributors sometimes use different terminology!
In most of the descriptions in various online shops, Owner’s manuals or instructional videos, 180 degrees is mentioned as a possible inversion angle. However, if you go through the Amazon listing of the Ironman Gravity 4000, you will find the following:
“As your arms go up, your body gradually inverts up to 90 degrees. The only inputs are your energy and gravity itself.”
And that’s not all. Body Flex Sports, Inc., the company that has introduced brands like Body Power, Body Max and Body Champ, have in Walmart’s listing of the Body Champ IT8070 inversion table, one feature that drew my attention. A “140-degree inversion range.”
Judging by the sheer number of customer questions asking if a given inversion table allows for a full inversion, it wasn’t just me who got confused by the product descriptions. The good news is that things are actually simpler than they first appear to be. Every table available on the market has the ability to invert you upside down. It is understandable that this position might be referred to as a “full inversion” (180-degrees). All the remaining incline angles are exactly the same, depending on the starting position.
Technically, the inversion begins when your head is below your feet. In other words, when you pass the leveled-plane position. The angle between that position and a full inversion is 90 degrees. This being the case, the angle of 140 degrees (mentioned above) is between the starting position and full inversion.
Some inversion tables, like the Ironman LXT850, Atis series, and all powered tables are fitted with a system that allows for locking the inversion at any angle. This means that once locked, the incline will remain the same and the table won’t react to arm movements or other exercises performed while in that position. Almost all the remaining tables (those not fitted with a locking mechanism), come with a tether strap that is hooked to the frame crossbar and the back of the backrest, allowing you to “preset” the maximum inversion angle. The tether strap absolutely shouldn’t be seen as a locking mechanism, because it won’t stop you from rotating back to your starting position.
As you can see by the customer comments reproduced below, this statement caused some confusion:
“I think for safety reasons it can’t lock while inverted, but you can still easily do crunches or other exercises without it being locked.”
“We were never able to get it to lock into place, which was one of the reasons we returned it.”
But here’s the thing: there’s no locking device there! The table has the ability to lock out when the backrest passes the full inversion point (180 degrees). The cross-bar on the A-frame will not allow the table to continue on and complete a full circle. In that position, you'll be held by your ankles only, and your torso won't be touching the backrest at all. That position can be achieved with the most “aggressive” pivot setup and limited user’s body weight, but it’s not a feature exclusive to the Teeter EP560 – many other non-motorized inversion tables can do that too, but it looks like only the Teeter has highlighted the feature in their description. I bring this up because the phrase “secure-lock-out allows exercises…” makes it sound like there's some sort of custom locking device on the table, but there really isn't.
Here's the old video of the Ironman inversion table locked out in full inversion ( you can skip to 4:40 mark):