When we were first asked to spend time with the Marc Pro, we actually had a bit of trepidation in doing so. What test plan could we put together to ensure we provided the best possible feedback to our readers? Additionally, would we really feel confident walking away saying that a device costing $649.95 provided a definite recovery benefit? After all, we don’t say yes to every product pitched to us, and this review was no exception. It definitely went around the editorial table a few times before we came to a decision. In the end, we decided to take the plunge and even came up with a test (performed over a two-week period) that we felt gave us true insight into the capabilities of the Marc Pro. But before we give you our thoughts, let’s go over the product.
The Marc Pro
Put simply, the Marc Pro is an Electrical Muscle Stimulation device. Many of our readers may have some experience with electrical stimulation, especially if they have ever spent any time rehabilitating an injury with the help of a physical therapist. The basic premise is that you adhere two contact pads to either end of the area you want to stimulate, attach electrical leads to the pads, and turn on the juice. Soon enough you’ll start to experience muscle contractions between the contact pads.
Now it’s possible to confuse the Marc Pro with the stimulation devices you see on late-night TV that promise six-pack abs in just three short weeks. The Marc Pro is very much NOT this device. Instead, the Marc Pro is designed specifically to aid in muscle recovery. To do this, the Marc Pro utilizes a proprietary dynamic decaying waveform. This type of signal comfortably contracts muscles and then slowly releases them over a period of time. This is quite a bit different from the static square waveform that contracts the muscle at full power, holds it at that full power, then instantly and fully releases the muscle (found in the afore mentioned devices). The net results is that using the Marc Pro is similar to a lite warm-up or cool-down workout. The muscles are working, but they’re doing so at a very low level.
What’s in the Box?
When you first open your Marc Pro box you are going to find a carrying case containing the unit, a power supply, two sets of power leads and a whole bunch of sticky pads (the pads do tend to wear out after a few uses). The unit itself has two rotary dials, a small LED display and ports for both the power supply and the two sets of leads. The ability to handle two sets of leads lets you stimulate two muscle groups at once, whether it be both sets of calf muscles or your entire leg (quads with one set and calves with another).
Turning the device on is easy. Just plug in the leads, stick the pads on, and turn the rotary dial to the setting that feels best on your muscle group. We tended to end up at an intensity level between six and eight, but this is truly a personal preference (it isn’t a competition to see how intense or how long you can go. So no, you can’t create a Strava segment for it). The device also includes a timer, which you can set from 15-60 minutes.
Using the Marc Pro
We tended to use the Marc Pro for 15-30 minute segments centered on either our calves or whole legs. The Marc Pro comes with a guide of different pad placements to highlight specific muscle groups. Although if you are unsure, you can always give (855) MARC-PRO a ring. The team at Marc Pro understands that this is not a cheap device and wants to give you the best experience possible. To that end, they are always ready to hop on the phone with you and talk though your muscle recovery needs.
Marc Pro recommended that we use the device as soon after a workout as possible—the magic 30 minutes. However, we have to admit that we sometimes found that difficult since we rarely had 30 minutes to spend connected to the machine, especially right after we walked in the house from a workout. Instead, our favorite way to use it was to turn on the TV after dinner and watch a show or two with our muscles contracting away.
Testing the Marc Pro
While it would have been easy to say that we used it and our legs felt better, we wanted a slightly more qualitative analysis. While this was not going to be a full scientific study (no double blind panel for us), we wanted a method that allowed us to have some specific feedback to help us make our judgment. To do this, we had two of our editors (Mike and Tracy) spend two weeks using the device. The first week Mike only used it on his left leg and Tracy her right. The second week Mike switched to his right and Tracy her left. The goal was to see if at the end of each week (with multiple workouts, including the training camp at Club Med), the leg using the Marc Pro felt better.
And the answer was yes – the leg receiving the stimulation consistently felt more recovered than the leg that did not. Additionally, during workouts, the leg that had received the stimulation tended to feel “fresher.” One thing we did notice was that during the second week of testing, the leg that had initially received the stimulation (but was no longer receiving it) felt marginally better than the leg that had not been stimulated the previous week. We cannot say for sure if this was a hangover effect from the previous week’s usage – but we suspect that this was a further benefit of the Marc Pro.
So the big question is should you buy this? Honestly, if you are a twice-a-week athlete who has plenty of time to recover, the answer is probably not. But for those that are putting in 5-7 workouts a week, this is a product worth looking into. Yes $649 is not cheap, but alternatives can run quite a bit more. Plus, for those athletes looking for every edge they can get, the ability to recover that much quicker is money in the bank. On top of that, Marc Pro offers both a financing plan and a 30-day money back guarantee. So this is a product you can try for a week or two, and if it doesn’t do what you need, you can send it back (though as with all products, make sure to know the full details of the store policies).
The Marc Pro may not be a magic ab-building machine, but it certainly left our sore muscles feeling refreshed after a few hard training blocks. And as any sore triathlete knows, that’s enough to make us fans! More importantly, our editors have started making a habit of reaching for that tiny black box after they trudge in the house from a hard workout. And that’s a sign of faith in a product if there ever was one.