About Marc Pro
Marc Pro is an FDA-cleared electrical muscle stimulation (EMS) device that uses proprietary technology to help users recover faster and more fully, improve conditioning and performance, maximize training results, prevent injury, and relieve pain.
At the heart of this technology are waveforms that cause non-fatiguing muscle contractions, which flush out waste and deliver nourishment to the area, versus TENS (transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation) programs that focus on building muscle.
Over the course of a 30-60 minute session, we’re told this helps facilitate muscle repair and remodeling, without the increased fatigue, stress, or strain of traditional exercise-based recovery methods—and without utilizing confusing technology or complex programs.
Whether you're an athlete or a desk jockey, we all get sore muscles now and then. But can you expect Marc Pro's waveforms to deliver meaningful relief and help you recovery faster—especially in light of its ultra-high price? Does it actually represent the next generation of muscle recovery, as claimed on the website?
Let’s start by discussing what these devices aren’t.
TENS Units vs. Marc Pro’s Devices
When we exercise, the fibers in our muscles are damaged, which can cause soreness and stiffness afterward. But once the body repairs this damage, the muscle fibers become a little bigger and stronger. As such, frequently exercising can lead to larger, stronger muscles throughout the body.
However, this process isn't always optimized. For example, we might work out too hard when should've been recovering. Or, we might be too sore, or in too much pain, to work out, creating a temporary lapse in training, which could have otherwise benefited our recovery.
To address these concerns, the Marc Pro devices employ a proprietary dynamic decaying waveform that “contracts muscles and then slowly releases them over a period of time.”
“Muscle fibers are allowed to properly relax, and fluids are moved in and out of the area without causing fatigue to the muscle,” the website tells us.
They also claim this waveform contracts muscles that are often difficult to stimulate using other methods, for a longer period of time and without fatigue, leading to optimized results.
Contrastly, the Marc Pro website reports that TENS (transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation) units employ static, square waveforms at relatively high voltages and frequencies to recruit muscles. While it’s effective at re-educating muscles, it can feel unnatural, harsh, uncomfortable, and fatiguing, and won’t provide the same benefits as Marc Pro.
The manufacturer tells us that Marc Pro’s decaying waveforms (top) will optimize muscle recovery and pain relief, compared to the square, unnatural waveforms found in most TENS units (bottom). Image credit: Marc Pro
And compared to TENS units, which only mask pain signals while they’re being used, Marc Pro claims their “unique waveform and long pulse duration allows the signal to stay in the tissue longer, which provides results that are much more significant and lasting.”
In the end, they emphasize that “the goal with Marc Pro Plus is not to mask pain, but to achieve lasting relief after sessions.”
How Does the Marc Pro Work?
While these unique waveforms might make Marc Pro’s functionality meaningfully different than traditional TENS units, their devices look very similar; there’s a central battery-powered unit that creates the electrical signals, attached to which are up to six different electrodes that adhere to skin and deliver these signals.
Each unit features two independent channels that can be used on different (or the same) muscle groups, while the user is sitting or lying in a relaxed position. You’ll choose between the following settings over the course of your session:
- Conditioning – Aims to increase muscle capacity by boosting nourishment delivery.
- Recovery – Increases the exchange of nourishment and waste to speed recovery following strenuous activity.
- Low-intensity warm up/recovery – Lower-level contractions.
- Warm up (potentiation) – Avoid fatigue and discomfort while warming up.
- Massage – Pumps and activates muscles to deliver a massage-like benefit.
When starting out or warming up, the company recommends short 10-20 minute sessions, although 30-60 minute sessions following workouts may provide the best recovery.
According to a 10-week study published in the April 2013 edition of the American Society of Exercise Physiologists, Marc Pro’s device was reported to cause a “significant increase in calf strength versus subjects who did not receive electrical stimulation,” while “decreasing the feelings of muscle fatigue.”
What’s the Difference Between Marc Pro’s Recover & Condition & Pain Relief Models?
According to the Marc Pro website, the standard model features a single, locked low frequency that’s “ideal for moving nourishment and waste (conditioning and recovery).”
On the other hand, the Plus model adds “additional high frequencies ideal for shutting down more stubborn aches and pains from your exercise or daily activities.” In other words, its longer signal is more effective at relieving pain and provides cumulative relief after sessions.
The Plus model also comes with a pre-set mode. Or, its low-frequency button can be used to deliver rhythmic, non-fatiguing muscle contractions, while the high-frequency button can deliver stronger—but still soothing—sensations. Finally, manual mode provides access to more than 70 frequency options so you can experiment and use what works best for you.
Thus, the company recommends that if you’re experiencing frequent pain and aching in the back, neck, shoulders, arms, or legs, the Marc Pro Plus model might be ideal.
The standard Marc Pro model (left), along with the more robust Plus version (right). Image credit: Marc Pro
Could Marc Pro’s Devices Cause Side Effects?
Outside of temporary redness, sites like MedicineNet and Patient.info report that TENS/EMS technology is well-tolerated and most users won’t experience any side effects.
However, they emphasize that you shouldn't place electrode pads on broken or damaged skin, on the neck, close to the eyes, or in the mouth. To this extent, Marc Pro specifically indicates their devices should only be used "in the shoulder, waist, back, neck, upper extremities (arm), and lower extremities (leg) due to strain from exercise and normal household and work activities."
While you’ll always want to discuss EMS with your doctor before making any purchases, the company notes you shouldn’t use any Marc Pro device if you have:
- Cardiac pacemakers, defibrillators; or other implanted metallic electronic devices
- Following acute trauma or fracture
- Following recent surgical procedures
- Critical ischemia of lower limbs
- Abdominal or inguinal hernia
- Cancer or cancerous lesions
How Much Do Marc Pro’s Devices Cost?
These devices are priced as follows:
- Marc Pro: One payment of $649.95, or 12 installments of $54.16 each
- Marc Pro Plus: One payment of $949.95, or 12 installments of $79.16 each
We also found the devices for sale on Amazon at the same one-payment prices.
Both models come with six packages of reusable electrodes, with four electrodes in each package. Pro tip: The company notes the average electrode set lasts between 20 and 25 uses, which can be maximized by only applying to clean and dry, oil, and lotion-free skin.
Accessories (replacement electrodes, chargers, shirts, etc.) are priced between $1.99 and $34.99. All devices come with a 30-day refund policy, less S&H charges, as well as a two-year warranty.
In order to reach customer support, you’ll need to call 855-MARC-PRO (627-2776) or send a message through their site’s contact form.
What Are Marc Pro Customers Saying In Their Reviews?
Between the Standard and Plus models, Marc Pro’s devices had nine combined Amazon reviews, with an average rating of about four stars at the time of our research. Among these, compliments frequently referenced improved relaxation, reduced pain, and ease of use. Of the two complaints, one referenced high price and limited functionality, while the other related to less-than-optimal quality.
Back in 2014, Competitive Cyclist provided some in-depth insight into their experience with the device, finding: “On big days, a Vega Nutrition shake, food, and an hour with the Marc Pro nearly eliminates next-day lethargy.” And in the end, “the difference in recovery time between Marc Pro sessions and those without it is very noticeable.”
More recently, Gear Junkie concluded, “This device is for those who want to maximize training results by improving and speeding up the recovery process. It is a big investment, coming in at $950 for the Marc Pro Plus and $650 for the Marc Pro.”
“However,” they emphasized, “if you are a professional athlete or someone who is highly invested in your training then it may be worth the cost.”
Similarly, ChipChick concluded, “If you want to hack your recovery time and improve muscle conditioning, this is for you. With all the commitment that goes into a serious fitness regimen (gym costs, supplements, food, trainers, transit), this is a reasonable investment to make the most out of what you do. I will be using this tech in my fitness routine for sure.”
From a company perspective, Marc Pro is based out of Huntington Beach, CA, and was by CEO Ryan Heaney. According to their bio on the Marc Pro website, the founders have more than three decades of combined experience “researching, designing, manufacturing, and selling electrical stimulation devices in the medical field.”
In addition, we’re told their devices have been sold “to players and trainers from over 100 professional and amateur teams,” with “over a dozen peer-reviewed published studies on [their] specific technologies.”
Are There Other Devices Like Marc Pro?
While we found dozens of third-party TENS and EMS devices perhaps competing for many of the same customers as Marc Pro, we didn't encounter any that specifically claimed to utilize decaying waveforms. As such, if this is your primary determinant, it seems to be the only game in town.
If you’re perhaps looking to pay meaningfully less and stick with more traditional TENS/EMS technology, a lot of the process will depend on your specific needs and preferences (again, after speaking with your doctor).
For example: Do you need multiple channels? A large display? More than four electrodes? How many modes and intensity levels will you need? Do you prefer rechargeable lithium batteries, or standard AA or AAA options? Is budget a concern? These are all factors that could impact your overall decision.
Don’t forget about the company, either. Do they have a standalone website? A Better Business Bureau listing and rating? Mostly positive online customer feedback?
Does all of this bode well for Marc Pro?
Our Final Thoughts About Marc Pro
Based on the prices of their two models, there’s little doubt that Marc Pro probably isn’t the brand for you if bottom-of-the-barrel pricing is one of your primary must-haves.
But if you’re willing to pay for unique waveform technology that could potentially help relieve pain and has been clinically shown to cause a significant increase in calf strength (although not necessarily other muscles in the body), it seems most customers report positive—if not somewhat limited—experiences.
And even if it doesn’t meet your needs and expectations, the company stands behind their devices with a 30-day refund policy, although you might be out a few bucks in return S&H.