This week, we review the Marc Pro Muscle Conditioning Device.
The Marc Pro is a muscle stimulation device that utilizes electricity to speed the recovery process after physical activity. The Marc Pro delivers electrical stimulation, or electrical pulses (the intensity of which is controlled by the user), via four adhesive-backed, replaceable electrode pads connected to two channels on the device.
When the pads are placed on the targeted muscles and the device activated, the Marc Pro creates strong, non-fatiguing muscle contractions that create a “cascading series of physiologic events” which, according to the manufacturer: “improve[s] the transport of nourishment and waste, speed[s] recovery, and get[s] you back to 100% quickly.”
While there are other muscle stimulation devices on the market, the Marc Pro does not make outlandish claims that it will build muscle or give you six pack abs while you lounge on the sofa. The Marc Pro is a recovery tool, found in training facilities at the collegiate and professional level. Recently, however Marc Pro has been marketing to the CrossFit® community – hence, this review.
In the Box
The Marc Pro comes with a soft-sided, padded carrying case, two lead wires, wall charger, user’s manual (with detailed electrode placement instructions), and six packs of reusable electrode pads with four pads in each pack.
I tested the Marc Pro over a period of one month. During that time, I participated in a three-day competition (The Granite Games in St. Cloud, Minnesota), and used the device in connection with my regular training which included the Hatch Squat Program and WODs programmed by CrossFit Connex.
Getting Marc Pro sessions in was easy. For the most part, I used the device for 60 minute daily sessions at work while sitting at my desk or at home on the sofa. The Marc Pro was not distracting or otherwise annoying; I was able to work during the sessions at my desk, and sometimes I fell asleep with the unit on while sitting on the sofa.
Recovery: The Marc Pro works. For day-to-day post-WOD recovery, I found that the Marc Pro reduced soreness dramatically. I also felt less lethargic using the device’s “leg flush” placement after running or rowing WODs that exceeded 20 minutes in length. Further, focused quad and hamstring sessions following a multi-WOD competition day was invaluable to recovering in time for the next day of competition.
Getting Deep: Lately, my 40 year old rotator cuffs have been an issue. I’ve undergone physical therapy on the left, with no residual complaints, and I have a nagging issue on the right that is slowly resolving. I found that the Marc Pro was able to get deep into my shoulder / scapular area to achieve the type of activation and recovery that I typically only get from deep tissue massage. And while the Marc Pro is not a replacement for focused, purposeful, and daily mobility work, combining the two is a very effective means to recover quickly.
Ease of Use: The Marc Pro is small, portable, and easy to use. And the electrical stimulation it delivers, even at its highest level of intensity, is not painful. The chargeable built-in battery held up well during my trial. I only charged it twice in over a month of frequent, daily use. The user’s guide for electrode placement was easy to follow and well-illustrated.
Price Tag: The downside to the Marc Pro is the price: $649.95 USD. But, like a good oly bar (or bottle of tequila), you get what you pay for.
Replacement Parts: The Marc Pro comes with six packs of four adhesive-backed, reusable electrode pads. During my one month review, one set wore out. Specifically, the adhesive on the pads lost their stickiness. A replacement set (four pads) is $8.99 USD. Thus, the Marc Pro comes with an approximate six month supply of electrode pads, after which you will have to pay $8.99 USD a month (excluding shipping) for replacements. To Marc Pro’s credit, pad life is disclosed on their website.
Availability: Currently, the Marc Pro is only available for sale in the United States. The unit and charger are compatible with 110V or 220V power sources, but a Euro plug adapter may be necessary.
Assuming you can justify the price, the Marc Pro is a worthwhile investment. Considering the cost of active release / massage therapy and your frequency of use, the Marc Pro may prove to be cheaper (over time) than your current recovery regimen.