Product Review: The Marc Pro Plus
For whatever reason, these review posts always get pushed to the bottom of the pile, I’m more than happy to finally be getting to this one though. First of, I’m not going to completely rehash the basic Marc Pro functionality that carries over to the new unit, so if you’re curious about the basic unit, read my original review here. For this review I’ll be focusing specifically on the high frequency features of the Marc Pro Plus.
What Is It?
I’ve found the easiest way to write this section is by process of elimination, instead of saying what the Marc Pro Plus (MPP) is, it’s far easier to define what it isn’t first. It’s not a TENS unit. The traditional TENS unit is a waveform pulse, meaning the electrical stimulus is applied instantly without any gradient, and shut off just as quickly, thus you get a 100% contraction and then rest. This obviously would mimic real work, and is a fatiguing contraction. The low frequency contraction of the MP is non-fatiguing, and not a square form pulse. It’s not a medical device, legally it can’t be, they can’t sell it that way. Though there are always off-label uses. We’ll touch on this a little later. So then what is it, well the main purpose of the “Plus” is pain resolution through high frequency contraction. Unlike the MP low frequency setting that you apply directly to large muscle bodies. The high frequency setting would quickly tetanize any muscle group. As such the electrodes get placed directly on top of joints ideally, or in areas where they won’t force contractions in larger muscle groups. This allows the electrical stimulus to calm irritated nerves and associated muscle tension while the low frequency side moves waste and helps condition the muscle. Often, especially when acute injury occurs to a joint, the bodies reaction to protect it is for the surrounding muscles to somewhat seize to prevent further injury. Typically rest and ice is prescribed here before any more effective measures can be taken. The Marc Pro Plus let’s you resolve this tension more quickly and get back to training 100%. It’s really designed to work with itself, combining low frequency recovery and high frequency pain resolution increases the productive capacity of the unit exponentially.
How Does It Work
With the added features, the operation of the unit is very different than the original. The basics of the Marc Pro are, place pads, turn on unit, reach desired power output, and relax. It really is a set it and forget it type of experience, the simplicity of it was one of its biggest selling points for me. The Plus however is designed for someone wanting far more control over their experience. In addition to having a high frequency mode, it also allows you a full manual mode, which let’s you control the frequency and intensity totally. The default setting for low is 2 hz or 2 contractions per second, and 60 hz for high. The manual mode lets you set the intensity for either high or low to any frequency from 1 to 70 hz. Not only does this give you enormous control over your experience with the unit, it also opens up the possibility for off-label uses. The largest proponent of this is Brian Mackenzie, who publishes several of these to his Instagram. He uses it for form correction drills, hypertrophy, isolation work, eccentric training and even mobility. The beauty of the added complexity is that it’s still very simple to use, there are no program buttons or complicated settings, just the same on and off button for high/low frequency, and an intensity button. Additionally the published placements you receive with the Plus are quite good, and come with suggested intensities as well, which keeps it as much like the original as possible. At the end of the day you can just as simply place the pads, turn it on, and be on your way to recovery and pain resolution.
How It’s Different From The MP
The only true difference is in it’s capabilities. On the surface it looks the same, operates more or less the same, and uses the same waveform at a different frequency to accomplish a different goal. The difference is really in the pad placement protocols, as I mentioned above the placements rely on a different physiological mechanism and as such should be used differently. Rather than aiming for large muscle bellies, you want almost the exact opposite, focusing on the joints themselves. The magic is when you combine a large muscle belly recovery contraction with the joint focused high frequency one. For example, I tweaked my knee cleaning a few weeks ago, I put the high frequency pads on either side of the knee joint as outlined in the booklet, and online. I put the low frequency pads on my major quad muscles and turned both sides on. After about 45 minutes the pain had resolved and my leg felt so good I actually did the other side just so I wasn’t walking around in circles the rest of the day.
Who Is It For
I decided to add this section after publication because I realized I took completely for granted that not everyone curious about an MPP might actually be in the market for one. Like all things, the MPP has a target audience, and it’s an important considering, whether or not you fit that target. The MPP might be more than you need, incredibly overwhelming, or a perfect fit. If you’re like me, you like having the responsibility of control, so often removed from the consumer these days to protect them from themselves. The MPP gives you the utmost control down to the hertz of the recovery or pain management program you desire. For some people this is too much, I get that. There are still ways to use the MPP without this control, you can simply select high/low and dial it up, still works great, still has great results. The second consideration beyond your tolerance for responsibility, is what kind of athlete you are. Do you need to recovery super quickly? Do you often walk around with nagging injuries that keep you out of the gym? Then this is probably a good fit. If you only need to recover better, the Marc Pro is a great fit, for significantly less money. Unfortunately, there is no “only high frequency” unit, so if you want to treat injuries, you need the Plus. If neither of these are true, then go buy some new nano’s and train harder (just kidding, sort of).
- Easy to use
- Completely customizable
- Proven technology
- Highly effective
- Multiple off label uses
- Price – quite a bit more than the regular unit
- Can be overwhelming
- A little tricky to nail the pad placements
The Marc Pro Plus is just as easy to use as it’s brother, it adds additional customizability to just about every regular feature from the original, in my mind it’s a proven technology, I’ve had my original Marc Pro for 2 years now and swear by it and it’s effectiveness at reducing recovery times. Further it has numerous off-label uses that increase it’s utility exponentially. Both the Marc Pro and the Plus are expensive, I can’t deny that, but both are available at a no-interest monthly installment that was less than my gym membership, with that in mind they make it easily affordable. I’ll admit when I first pulled the Plus out of the box, I was overwhelmed, there were far more features than I was used to, and I didn’t know where to start, but once I had some practice it was only mildly more complicated than the original. The high frequency pad placements can be more difficult than the low frequency ones. The low frequency areas are very large and not very error prone, anywhere on the large muscle and you’re set. The high frequencies placements are difficult because of the tetanizing nature of the high frequency mode, if you miss and hit muscle you’ll know right away, and might have to remove and reset the pad a few times until you get it right. Or even simply moving can help reposition.
It’s no secret I love my Marc Pro. When the Plus was first introduced I thought I didn’t need it, and wouldn’t. I thought it was more for people who had an old injury, some kind of chronic pain that needed to be dealt with. For the wear and tear that competitive exercisers put themselves through, they are basically always battling a different chronic injury. In the timespan of a single off season, days missed due to injury add up fast, and minimizing those can be crucial. I really wasn’t convinced that I needed the Plus until I tried it, now I’m pretty sure I couldn’t function without it. I’ve used it on my forearms, my knees, my shoulders, my lower back. Pretty much anywhere an acute pain pops up, the Plus beats it back down. The one area that I would really like to play with more that I haven’t is the off-label usages, but given that they’re off-label, they probably shouldn’t factor much into this review anyways. But the capability is exciting and worth noting.
96/100 – A solid improvement on an already A grade product.
If you’re interested in buying a Marc Pro Plus – use the discount code “GRIZZLY” at checkout for an extra 5% off.