A Closer Look At The Ironman iControl 400 Inversion Table
Rating 4.7 Review by Dave Carry
The Ironman has issued three models of their new line called 'iControl,' which refers to the innovative angle locking solution device applied on the tables. The new, very reliable braking system replaces the faulty 'Smart Gear' that can be found in all Ironman Atis series tables, as well as in the Ironman LXT850 model, which is well reviewed and has legions of happy customers using it.
The table will assist your body by allowing you to gently stretch and remove the weight and pressure from your spine and joints, allowing a return to your body's natural state and position. On top of that, thanks to its new braking system, it is the perfect tool with which to perform inverted situps, crunches, and even squats, in order to strengthen your core muscles, which in turn leads to improved balance and stability and providing support for your spine.
Like all tables in the iControl series, this one's frame is based on the frame design of the Ironman LX300 inversion table, where there are no foldable arms limiting the opening of two U-frames. Here, we have a kind of 'hinge' that's limited by the frame itself, and secured with a ring pin. That solution is probably safer for your fingers, as they won't get trapped when folding the table for storage purposes.
The iControl 400's stand is built of 1.5” steel that we examined closely in the Expereutic Stretch 300, where it supports up to 300lbs of weight, so you can be assured that it's sturdy enough to support the 275lbs as defined in this table's Owner's Manual. Where this frame differs from that of many other inversion tables is in its “Open Space” design, as it is called in the product description. Usually, an inversion table's frame has a U-shape with stabilizers placed in its corner, or simply on its bottom bar. The bigger the stabilizers, the bigger the clearance between the floor and the bottom bar of the frame, which is a bit of a hindrance to you when stepping on or off of the table.
Here, the back frame's bottom bar is turned into a “stretching bar,” and the front one is left out. The whole frame is powder-coated to withstand folding and unfolding without scratches.The function of stabilization is fulfilled by four small plastic caps, bolt-mounted to cover the sharp ends of the frame.
Is it Comfortable for Everyone?
The backrest has a very similar shape and size to that found on the Essex 990 inversion table, but in this case, there is upholstery covering its foam padding, which is of double the usual thickness to provide great comfort if you're planning to lie down and just relax for a few minutes. Also, you won't need any extra cushioning for your lower back to avoid pain there during squats at any incline.
As the backrest size is obviously copied from another table, you should expect that its drawbacks and limitations are replicated as well. It would be worth mentioning that a few very tall customers of the Essex 990 felt the discomfort of their head sticking out from the top of the backrest during a deep inversion. The footrest adjustability is very limited in the iControl inversion table, and that will lead to your body sliding down in a head-down position, I'm afraid.
The iControl inversion table is fitted with two long side handles to assit you in controlling the pace of the inversion process, and in helping you get back to upright position. You will also need them to get back from a full inversion.
The previous models of the Ironman angle locking inversion table were fitted with a “Smart Gear” device to control the angle of inversion. That device was sometimes faulty and the excellent idea of creating an inversion table with an ab training function was spoiled by a few complaints and some disappointed customers. Unfortunately, it could happen that the gear of the mechanism would get stuck, or be very hard to release. In the new “iControl” system, the gear lock is replaced by braking pads, which turn out to be far more reliable than the "Smart Gear" in terms of controlling your angle of inversion. The gear applied in the Atis series allowes for angle locking in ten predesignated positions, whereas the braking pads give you the ability to lock at any angle you wish.
The iControl 400 also comes with a handy side holder which you can use to place small belongings in.
Pros and Cons of the Ankle Locking System
The heel holder consists of four identical cuffs that are padded with a durable, tough rubber. Unfortunately, many users will find them to be quite hard on the ankles, depending on individual anatomy, or a long term steep incline or inversion. The front part of the heel holder is spring loaded, so it will always want to lock as tightly as possible onto your ankles. Despite that, you will need to reach down and make sure the locking pin is fully engaged before you start, and to pull the holder open any time you want to exit the table, so it seems that the spring loaded solution is not really all that helpful here.
A great innovation in the ankle locking system of the iControl is the longer than normal locking pin, which helps to keep you from having to bend over as much or as far. In my opinion, however, you'll still be forced to bend down quite a lot as both hands will be required to operate the locking pin and the front holder at the same time, unless I am just missing something!
The Ironman iControl ankle locking system footrest has three options to adjust to the size of the feet of its user. Once you pick one, you need to secure it with two bolts, so you have the ability to adjust it to some degree, but it's not easy to change the setting on the fly.
Adjustability and Balancing
As the iControl 400 inversion table is fitted with the braking system, and you have full control over the angle of incline, there is no tether strap, which used to be the device used to stop the rotation at a preset angle. The tether strap had one great feature though; it would have stopped your rotation, even if you weren't hadn't properly adjusted the table's balance prior to first use. The braking handle is always easy to grip, as it follows your rotation, but it's rather easy to imagine that you wouldn't be able to use it in time if you were surprised by a too-violent rotation of an unbalanced table. All that to say, don't neglect balancing before first use. It only takes a few minutes and will save you from a nasty surprise later.
The height adjusting bar has a scale sticker placed upon it which obviously isn't as durable or long lasting as an engraved solution, but that is a feature found in all Ironman tables, and it is no different here. In any case, you just need to match your height to the height on the scale, but different people have different body types, weights, and proportions, so you should be ready to make adjustments to your height, plus or minus three inches. The housing of the adjusting bar is fitted with a spring loaded pull-pin on its side and a plastic knob on the bottom. You will need to use both hands to make adjustments. You can tighten the plastic knob once you finish the balancing, as its job is to eliminate wobbling in the shaft only.
Once you have set the table for your height, you need to hop on, lock your ankles and lie down on the backrest with your hands crossed over your chest. In this position, you should get lifted just a few inches. If you don't move at all, or if you keep rotating, you need to readjust the height and test it again the same way. Unfortunately, this trial and error approach must be repeated for each individual using the iControl 400 table.
Because of the iControl's braking system, there's no ability to adjust the responsiveness of the table by changing its pivot position. As the iControl 400's intended functions are both an inversion table and an ab trainer, the unit needed to have the ability to lock out by itself in full inversion so you could hang free upside down. That feature can only be achieved by having a single pivot setting, which is why it is preset by the manufacturer without the option to change it as you see in many other tables.
Is the Assembly Confusing?
The iControl 400 comes semi assembled, so you just need to focus on putting the stand together, the side handles, and a few minor parts. The manufacturer has provided two Allen wrenches, a screwdriver, and a hex wrench for that purpose. Thousands of bad words have been said about the quality of those tools, so I just say you'd be much better off using your own if you've got them.
The assembly instruction images show the whole inversion table dismantled down to its smallest part and bolt, so it's no surprise that some customers find it a bit confusing. Despite that, I suppose the assembly within 90 minutes should be possible.
How Easy is the Storage?
Folding the stand's legs will turn the table into a rather tall (81”), bulky, and fairly heavy (66lbs) device that needs to be propped up against a wall, as it will not stand on its own in that position. If you're planning to slide it under your bed, make sure it has at least 18” of clearance. Last but not least, you should bear in mind that you'll need to slide the safety ring pin back into the frame holes, otherwise you will almost certainly wind up looking for them, as there's no string attaching them in place. Small parts have a tendency to disappear and win up in places we don't expect to find them, if we find them at all.
Ironman iControl 400 Dimensions
You will probably need to arrange for some assistance in bringing the 75lb box home, unless the courier who delivers the box to you is fairly burly himself. The 8” flat box is 51”x31” and is fairly easy to maneuver, if on the heavy side.
Once you complete the assembly, you will have 66lbs of nice equipment in front of you, standing 57” high, and 49” long. With the handy plastic holder sticking out of one side, the total width of the table is 32”.
This Ironman model accomodates users from 4'10” to 6'6” tall, and weighing up to 275lbs.
The solution of the iControl angle braking is definitely the main strength of this table
The long lever of the ankle locking pin
Comfortable backrest with medium padded foam thickness of 1.5”
Very sturdy, power coated stand
The “Open Space” design
The backrest might turn out to be a little short for very tall users of the table
Despite the long pin lever, the construction of the ankle locking system will force users to bend down to adjust or release the locking mechanism
The rubber padding of the heel holders will be somewhat hard on the user's ankles
As the whole line of iControl inversion tables is fairly new, there have been relatively few customer reviews. It's too early to get a user based assessment.
Is the iControl 400 Worth Buying?
The Ironman has issued three different inversion tables with the iControl braking system that differ in a few aspects, like the ankle locking system, backrest comfort, and weight capacity, but also in overall weight, which might be important from a storage point of view. The price difference between the various models is only $40 though, so the purchase decision between the models should be based primarily on your individual needs and preferences.
The iControl 400 can be best compared to another Ironman inversion table, the Ironman LXT850. Their construction is pretty similar and so is their price. However, considering the comparison of their angle locking solutions, there's no doubt that the iControl system is far more reliable than the “Smart Gear.” The choice is obvious for me, and I'd rather expect to see the iControl inversion table eclipsing the LXT850.