This week, we take a moment to review the latest muscle stimulation device from Marc Pro: The Marc Pro Plus!
Item: Marc Pro Plus
Price: $1399 USD
Manufacturer: Marc Pro, Huntington Beach, CA, USA
It’s been a few years since The Rx Review published its review on the original Marc Pro. At the time, it was pretty much the first of its kind to target the CrossFit Functional fitness market.
Since then we have seen several new muscle stimulation devices hit the shelves, including the Compex unit. During that time Marc Pro has also released a new and improved device: The Marc Pro Plus!
We got our hands on the unit earlier this year. Since then we have put it to the test to see how it compares to the original Marc Pro, and other muscle stimulation devices on the market today.
For those who don’t know, the Marc Pro is a unique Electrical Muscle Stimulation (EMS) that utilizes electricity to speed the recovery process after physical activity. Just like the original unit, the Marc Pro Plus delivers electrical stimulation, or electrical pulses (the intensity of which is controlled by the user), via replaceable electrode pads that connect to two channels on the device.
These pads should be placed on targeted muscles before switching the device ‘on’. Once the Marc Pro Plus is activated, the user is able to create non-fatiguing, muscle contractions and pluses on that specific area of the body.the aim of this is to improve the transport of nourishment and waste, speed recovery, and get you back to 100% as fast as possible.
The people behind the Marc Pro Plus have also gone through extensive testing to ensure the device works effectively. The original unit itself was developed on the back of 30 years of medical device experience and research. As well as feedback from athletes and trainers.
As mentioned earlier, there are several other muscle stimulation devices on the market at the moment including the TENS unit and the Compex Muscle Stimulator. The Marc Pro Plus, however, differs slightly from these. It also differs from the devices seen on late night TV claiming to give you ripped abs. The Marc Pro Plus is essentially a recovery tool that also offers pain relief, in the hope of getting you back to a high level of athletic performance, faster.
Differences to Marc Pro
The Marc Pro Plus really only has one difference to the Marc Pro. That is the option of using ‘high frequency’. The high frequency option is designed to shut down more stubborn pain in areas in the body.
The low frequency functionality is exactly the same on the Marc Pro and the Marc Pro Plus. The Plus uses the same waveform, voltage levels, and the long pulse duration.
The Marc Pro Plus is also slightly bigger than the original version.
In the Box
The Marc Pro Plus comes with the following:
- A soft, padded carrying case
- Two lead wires
- Wall charger
- User’s manual (with detailed electrode placement instructions)
- Six packs of reusable electrode pads with four pads in each pack
- Aloe Moisturising Gel
I used the Marc Pro Plus every day (morning and night) during my normal training regime. In the morning, or before training, I would work on preparing my muscles using low frequency. After training and at night, I would use high frequency on any areas that were causing pain, and low frequency on the muscle groups I used the most during the day’s training.
Finding time to use the Marc Pro Plus wasn’t too hard. I would often just use the device while working behind a computer (avoiding arms so I could still type). And in the evening I would use it while watching TV, or just relaxing on the couch.
It Works: Just like the Marc Pro, the Marc Pro Plus really is an effective recovery tool. Personally, I found my muscles felt relatively ‘fresher’ before each workout. My legs also feel ‘lighter’ after several days using the device. In addition, I didn’t really notice any kind of Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness (DOMS) while using the Marc Pro Plus. A couple of times I woke up sore after a tough workout, but after a long session with the Marc Pro Plus my muscle soreness never really got worse.
The people at Marc Pro say the longer, the better, with the device. And that the higher the intensity, the better the results will be. There were times where I watched an entire movie with the device running, and I certainly had no side effects. So don’t worry about ‘over-using’ the Marc Pro Plus.
High Frequency Setting: As mentioned earlier, the high frequency setting is the only major difference the Plus has over the standard Marc Pro. The high frequency setting (60Hz) is substantially stronger then the low frequency setting (2Hz) and is used to provide very significant and lasting pain relief. The high setting is designed to offer temporary pain relief in sore areas, and offer an alternative to prescription drugs, or other forms of massage therapy. Whole it may make you feel substantially better, it doesn’t have the rehabilitative benefit of the low frequency setting.
Personally, I found the high frequency setting fantastic. I have had lower back issues for many years, and I found that long sessions using the high setting certainly helped me sleep better at night. By no means did it cure my back or eliminate the pain all together, but it certainly helped me get a better sleep and not worry about my back as much as I had in the past.
No Muscle Fatigue: Some other muscle stimulation devices like the Compex and TENS Unit can often fatigue muscles (depending what setting you use). But Marc Pro ensures us that there is no muscle fatigue while using the device. They say that they employ a proprietary dynamic decaying waveform that contracts muscles and then slowly releases them over a period of time. This allows muscle fibers to properly relax, and fluids to move in and out of the area without causing fatigue to the muscle.
While rival brands like the TENS Unit are effective at masking pain while the unit is hooked up, sometimes they can be slightly painful, uncomfortable and fatiguing.
Easy to Use: The Marc Pro Plus is very simple and easy to use. There are two channels, each channel has the option of “high” or “low” frequencies. And each has their own intensity levels that you can easily adjust. Unlike the Compex, which has so many menu options and session settings (which can be super confusing), the Marc Pro Plus literally has only a few options to use. The few options available are also proven to be effective, so there is no need to add extra settings just for the sake of it. I also had people ask to use my unit, and it was very easy to show them how.
Price: The major downside to the Marc Pro Plus is the price tag. At the time of writing the device was selling for around $1399 USD. That’s more than twice as expensive as the original Marc Pro which sells for $699 USD. That makes it a lot more expensive that the TENS Unit and more expensive than some of the Compex devices on the market (there are a few compex versions more expensive). The good news is that Marc Pro does offer a monthly payment plan. This allows buyers to split the total over 12 months without interest or fees to customers within the United States. So that is something to factor in if you don’t have the cash available up front.
Replacement Parts: The Marc Pro Plus comes with several packs of four adhesive-backed, reusable electrode pads. These are expected to last around 20-25 uses, and the adhesive on the pads can often lose their stickiness earlier. A replacement set (four pads) sells for around $8.99 USD online. If you use the Marc Pro Plus every day, then you could be looking at paying over $100 a year on pads alone. In addition, I have heard some users mention their cords had frayed after several months of using them. However, this never happened to me, and Marc Pro does offer a two year warranty on all devices in case something happens to the wires within that time.
It’s always a big investment when buying anything over $1,000. So it’s important you weight up the pros and cons before buying something like the Marc Pro Plus.
Overall, I think the device is fantastic, and a great tool to speed up my recovery and help control body pain. Compared to other muscle stimulation devices on the market (TENS Unit and Compex) I find it to be just as effective, if not better. It is easy to use, has decent battery life, and is portable and easy to carry around.
The decisive factor in buying the Marc Pro Plus is going to be money. There is no denying how great the device is and what it offers, but is it worth the price tag? If you are a professional athlete, looking for that extra edge over competitors, then I think it is certainly a worthwhile purchase. The benefits you will experience from the Marc Pro Plus will definitely be worth the money.
On the flipside, if you are a ‘weekend warrior’ who doesn’t compete, then it really comes down to how much money you’re willing to part ways with.