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performance-enhancing drugWorking out with music is not a new concept, however more and more science is illustrating just how much of an impact listening to music can have on a workout. One leading expert on the psychology of exercise music has even claimed that music can be classified as “a type of legal performance-enhancing drug.” Such a claim is not backed lightly, as more and more scientific research is demonstrating that listening to music can actually alter how both the body and brain react during physical exertion.

How Does Music Measure Up to Performance-Enhancing Drugs?

Music has been cited as being able to distract from pain and fatigue. In addition, listening to music can elevate mood, increase endurance levels, and reduce feelings of perceived effort. That is quite the jam-packed list of positives from hooking up to headphones during a workout. However, it is recommended that in order to maximize the effectiveness of using music during a workout, the right mood, rhythm, and cadence are all selected. Workout playlists have been created with the most popular songs that most people are blasting on the elliptical or spin bike.

Listening to music allows for you to be distracted in a positive way, can increase an individual’s effort during physical exertion, and can encourage movement when you hear certain sounds or beats. While there are many positives to listening to music during a workout, the Marc Pro team wants to remind you that if you listen to music when you workout, please use caution, especially when heading outdoors to run or cycle with headphones. In addition to boosting workout efforts, music can also increase recovery efforts by reducing blood lactate levels at a quicker rate. So for the ultimate in recovery, consider blasting music after a hard effort while also using the Marc Pro or Marc Pro Plus. You will be singing your way to more recovered muscles, less muscle soreness, and better performances while getting to hear your favorite tunes!

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What is the Grace WOD?

grace wodThe Grace WOD is one of the staple Crossfit workouts used to track progression over time. To complete this workout, athletes must finish 30 reps of clean and jerks as fast as they can. The standard barbell weights used are 135lbs for men and 95lbs for women. A high pain tolerance is required to get through the workout but the best Crossfit athletes are able to complete Grace in about one minute.

Post-Grace Recovery

After completing Grace, your hands/forearms, hamstrings, and traps are going to be fatigued. To get the most from your WOD, prevent injuries, and perform better at your next training session, make sure you incorporate recovery techniques. Brian Mackenzie shares how he uses Marc Pro post WOD to ensure a full and fast recovery.

Target 1: Grip Placement

The gripping involved with clean and jerks is going to take a toll on both your hands and forearms. Brian first suggests targeting the hands and forearms. Place one pad on the palm of your hand and the other pad from the same channel on the densest part of your forearm. Turn the intensity up so it’s strong yet comfortable.

Target 2: Traps & Hamstrings Placement

The movement involved with clean and jerks is going to be taxing on your traps and hamstring. For this, Brian recommends using channel A on the traps and channel B on the hamstrings. Place one pad on the left trap and one on the right, turn up the intensity. Next, place one pad on the left hamstring and one on the right. Make sure it’s on the densest part of the muscle to get the best contraction. To get a good result, use this placement for about 15-20 minutes; however, feel free to use for longer to see an even better result.

 

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resolutionsThe holidays came and went like a cold winter breeze, snapping in and out and ending with the epic countdown leading to the New Year. With the New Year, comes the tradition of setting resolutions to start the year out fresh and with great intentions.

However, for most individuals, resolutions disappear almost as quickly as they were created. The notion of going to the gym at 5:00am everyday, eating healthier, or spending more time with family starts losing its appeal within a week of starting the new “habit.” So how do you make these resolutions stick so that you can see progress when the countdown comes again for 2018? The Marc Pro team has some tips to help you maintain your 2017 resolutions.

Make Realistic Resolutions

The great thing about a resolution is that it is just a “goal” with a fancy name. A goal can be modified to fit your individual needs. So even if you resolved to go to the gym everyday at 12:00am on January 1st, you can still modify your resolution to make it something that you are actually able to maintain. For example, if you have never gone to the gym but want to start going more regularly, make it a goal to start hitting the weights and cardio 3 times per week. There are no rules that say you cannot modify this resolution later to increase the amount that you are doing, but allow yourself the possibility of achieving your goal instead of making it impossible from the start.

Follow the Leader

Do you find it challenging to make goals that are right for you? Or do you not know what a good resolution may be for you? Follow the leaders on goal setting—our Marc Pro athletes. These individuals are in the habit of constantly reflecting and creating goals throughout the year. Take some of their advice so that you can make your best resolutions for 2017.

Write Your Resolution Down

If you see your resolution on a Post-It on your bathroom mirror everyday, it is much harder to ignore than if the goal is in your head alone. Write your goal down and put it somewhere where you have to see it everyday.

Revise, Revise, Revise

This may have been stated previously, however, it is very important to remember that goals shift and change as an individual shifts and changes. Reflect on your resolution regularly to see if you have achieved your goal, if you need to make your next goal more challenging, or still have more work to do to reach your ultimate peak.

What are your goals or resolutions for the year? Do you create different goals for your athletic and personal lives? Tweet at Marc Pro with your responses. Happy New Year and best of luck with your 2017 resolutions!

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goal settingThe first step in accomplishing your goals is setting them. The Marc Pro team asked our athletes, “How do you set goals for yourself?” with the hopes that these athletes’ responses can inspire your own goal setting.

Goal Setting with the Marc Pro Athletes

Ben Greenfield

How do you set goals for yourself?

I test my blood, urine, stool, saliva and nervous system health for key biomarkers, then customize and adjust my daily habits, bio-hacks, workouts, diet and supplements accordingly!

What is your main goal for 2017?

To continue my pursuit to teach people how to attain an optimized human machine with a high functioning brain and body. But for my personal health specifically, I’m planning on putting on about 15 pounds of muscle, along with speed, power and strength in 2017!

Brian MacKenzie

How do you set goals for yourself?

Through inspiration. That can come through pain, suffering, joy, or love. It has to be felt though, and I have to understand that feeling. If I don’t explore the feeling nothing will occur.

What is your main goal for 2017?

To get closer to what we are naturally capable of doing and being.

Emily Bridgers

How do you set goals for yourself?

Evaluate your priorities first and then set realistic goals based on how you prioritize. Make sure those goals/priorities are in line with your lifestyle and have a plan to make them happen. Make general and specific goals. Write them down because you are more likely to achieve them!

What is your main goal for 2017?

Be present. Continue to push the boundaries of my athletic potential and lead by example throughout my fitness/competitive journey.
In other words, appreciate my talents daily and the people around me that have allowed me to get this far. Honor these gifts by continuing to pursue CrossFit competitively and being the best athlete, coach, and influencer possible.

Philip Mooney

How do you set goals for yourself?

I like to think about what would make me proud, and what would make my daughter proud of me. The answer to that can usually be found by winning a big race!

What is your main goal for 2017?

I’d like to set the fastest time riding from the bottom to the top of Mt Tam on Railroad Grade.

Chris Harland-Dunaway

How do you set goals for yourself?

First I think of a race I love and have the ability to win (this requires some ambition and imagination, but also an idea of races you’ve succeeded in the past). I then address the main weakness in the way of me winning that race. Is it tactics? Conserving energy? Having a better threshold? Having better punch? Having a better sprint? I think that identifying your main weakness in your way is the best way to take on a challenging goal, and then really addressing it once or twice a week in some way, for months.

What is your main goal for 2017?

Win White Rock Road Race.

Sam Boardman

How do you set goals for yourself?

For me, and much like many other people, setting goals equates to growth, both on and off the bike. Whenever my coach and I map out the races for the season, or my general training, every year we have tried to up the intensity bit by bit. Whether that meant augmenting the volume or hitting races with a more competitive start list, the objective has always been to push my body and mind further and further out into that unknown gray area of physical and mental limitation, trying to make the unknown known. And I think, getting on a more existential level, that’s the whole point of sport. When you boil it down, in the grand scheme of things winning a race means very little to those other than the person who actually won it, and that’s because of that process of discovery. Understanding that YOUR own body is the one capable of overcoming that obstacle, be it a hill, a certain distance, or just some stupid fast peloton full of other racers just as gritty as you are, is what makes bike racing so special, and what guides my goal setting process. What are the steps I need to take to achieve that euphoria? That being said, that euphoria doesn’t always come in the shape of actually winning a race. This year, being new to the team, I have very few goals that don’t include the team.

What is your main goal for 2017?

This is my first year racing at the domestic elite level, and I right now, my only goal is to be a sponge. My teammates have amassed an unbelievably amount of experience that I want to absorb and learn from. If that means working for another teammate, I am more than happy to do so. But if I were to pick a specific race, I would have to say the Chico time trial. I have a score to settle with that stage that has been haunting me for the better part of the year, and I am intent on getting that monkey off my back with a result this year.

Blake Anton

How do you set goals for yourself?

I do it based on a couple of criteria. First is what races are fun and I love. Sometimes it is the course, the spectators, or the region. Second is what are the team’s goals? Got to keep the guys upstairs happy! Lastly, is what would push and develop me most as a rider? Reaching outside of your comfort zone in bike racing is tough, because you generally get your teeth kicked in, but you have to do that to push yourself in training, trying to eek every drop of potential and performance out. And every one in a while, you get lucky, have great legs, and it becomes your day.

What is your main goal for 2017?

Poyang Lake will probably be my biggest goal for the year. It is an incredibly beautiful race in a stunning region of China, is quite difficult, and is a major team race.

Sam Bassetti

How do you set goals for yourself?

One of the things that drew me into this sport in the first place was a desire to find out how good I was and how good I could become. When I first started racing in the Nor Cal High School Mountain Bike Racing League, I wasn’t fighting for podium spots. I was fighting to finish inside the top 50. Seeing the work I began putting into the sport translate into results was always very satisfying, and it still is today. The desire to see how good I can be has become a guide for my goal setting.

What is your main goal for 2017?

My goals always force me to ask myself, “Can I be that good? Can I be that fast?” This year I want to win the Sunset Road Race stage of the Redlands Bicycle Classic.

What are your goals for 2017? Tweet your goals to the Marc Pro team at www.twitter.com/themarcpro.

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The words “swelling” and “inflammation” are typically considered synonyms, however, each word has a very distinct definition and application. Inflammation is classified as a protective response from the immune system to injury, infection, or irritation. Typically, this reaction is accompanied by one or more of the following: pain, redness, loss of function, and swelling. Inflammation is the start of the healing process and is implemented to protect the body from additional injury.

swellingSwelling

Swelling can occur when a part of the body becomes inflamed. However, it is caused by the accumulation of fluid in tissues throughout the body, or in a specific region of the body. As a result, swelling can actually occur within the body without inflammation occurring. To push the parameters even more, swelling therefore cannot be used as a synonym.

Inflammation

Most athletes have experienced inflammation as a result of a sports injury throughout his or her career. It is almost considered to be a rite of passage in the sports world. Subsequently, an athlete may experience swelling as a result of that inflammation in a specific region of the body that was injured (for example, fluid pooling when an ankle was twisted).

In addition, many athletes and individuals may have experienced swelling with no inflammation when traveling via plane. For many, ankles and legs can swell with the shifts in cabin pressure and altitude leading to some impressive “cankles” and swollen legs post-flight. This can be considered a common example of an instance of swelling resulting without inflammation or injury.

Understanding the differences in medical terminology allows for athletes, weekend warriors, and 9 to 5 workers to better understand what processes are happening in the body. With this additional level of understanding, pains, injuries, inflammation, and swelling can be described in more depth, and subsequently, utilized appropriately with the correct meaning to better convey what is occurring in the body. Further comprehension of the body’s function can allow for better treatment options. For example, in the case of swelling, low stress, non-fatiguing muscle contractions are a great way to activate the lymphatic system to flush out waste that has built up in the tissue. This can drastically speed the rate at which excess fluid leaves the area since the lymphatic system is a passive system that relies on muscle activation to function. Learn more about Marc Pro’s technology that allows for non-fatiguing muscle contractions.

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yin yogaYin Yoga is a slow-paced style of yoga with postures, or asanas, that are held for longer periods of time—for beginners, it may range from 45 seconds to two minutes; more advanced practitioners may stay in one asana for five minutes or more.

Yin Yoga is a lot less popular style of yoga in the West. It is also known to require a few sessions to warm up and understand the practice since it targets the deep connective tissues of the body as well as the fascia that covers the body. Spiritually it is also known to regulate the flow of energy in the body.

Yin Yoga is also quite unique because you are asked to relax in the various postures. This leads to softening of the muscles. Postures can be held for three to five minutes and even upwards of 20 minutes at a time. Utilizing Yin yoga can drastically increase your range of motion when practiced daily.

Yin yoga conceptually has been around for thousands of years. This meditative approach has a physical focus that is much deeper than other types of practices. The focal point resides more with deeper tissues. With age, flexibility decreases within the joints. Yin yoga is a great way to maintain that flexibility.

One must connect deeply with one’s self. This includes feelings, sensations, and emotions.

Known benefits of Yin yoga are:

  • Calming and balancing to the mind and body
  • Regulation of energy in the body
  • Increased mobility
  • Increased lubrication of joints
  • Increased stamina
  • Lower stress levels
  • Better flexibility.
  • Release of fascia throughout the body
  • Deeper flow state and relaxation

Yin yoga also teaches you how to really listen to your body. This is due to the fact that you focus intently on positions without going in and out. Jumping around to multiple positions quickly takes away from the focus. Yin is also a tremendous compliment to other styles of yoga.

It also helps strengthen you both physically and mentally since you’re spending long periods of time in an uncomfortable position. It teaches perseverance. With that being said, Yin is essential to anyone interested in Yoga. If you are looking to step up your yoga game, try signing up for an online subscription program like ROMWOD, which you can do at home.

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holiday travelThe holidays are in full swing, with all of the joy and pleasantries that accompany spending time with friends and family. And then there is the travel to reach all of these friends and family members. Holiday travel can be far less than enjoyable, especially when you keep comparing all of the treats and goodies that you will be able to indulge in when you reach home with long lines and airport food.

With holiday travel can also come aches and pains as you cram yourself into different spaces to make the journey feasible. Small airplane seats (and worse if you have to take the dreaded middle seat), crowded buses, and jam-packed trains can make your body scream out from discomfort. The Marc Pro team has a few tips to help make your holiday travel more enjoyable so that you can arrive at your destination feeling more recovered than ever before.

Holiday Travel Tip #1: Pack Your Snacks

No matter what, your own snacks are always better than the foods that are available in a bus or airport terminal. Take the time before you head out for your trip to prepare some fruit, vegetables, and healthy snacks (like nuts or hummus) to take with you. Your body will thank you for some tasty nourishment that will keep you away from the Cinnabon cart.

Holiday Travel Tip #2: Drink Water

It may sound simple, but staying hydrated during travel can make a tremendous difference in how your body feels post-trip. Drinking water can help with your kidney performance, and actually decrease muscle cramps and pains.

Holiday Travel Tip #3: Move Around

It is easy to get trapped on an airplane during a long flight and stay in your seat the entire time. Set a timer to get up during the flight at regular intervals, and walk around, stretch, and stand up. Not only will your body feel better moving around, but your mind will appreciate a change in scenery as well to make the time go by faster.

Holiday Travel Tip #4: Consider Using the Marc Pro While Traveling

The Marc Pro is not just a great tool for helping with recovery post-workout or after a long work day, it can be extremely useful to help an individual avoid the “dead-leg airplane feeling.” Simply attach the electrodes to your legs and/or back during a flight, power the Marc Pro on, and notice the difference in how your body feels after getting off your flight or long ride.

Do you have any advice for ways to help your body navigate a long trip? Share them with us on Twitter or Instagram. The entire Marc Pro team wishes you safe travels during this holiday season, and fewer aches and pains as well!

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recovery methodStephanie Schappert, Professional Runner for Hoka One One and the New Jersey New York Track Club, performed an experiment to find the best recovery method. Stephanie has an impressive list of career highlights including:

Career Highlights:

• 2016 US Olympic Trials 1500m Semi-Finalist
• 2015 World University Games Team USA Member (1500m -4th in final)
• 4 x NCAA DI All-American
• 4 x Penn Relays Championship of America Winner
• 8 x Big East Champion

 

Learn more about her real experiences with three different recovery methods, including no tools, a TENS unit, and the Marc Pro.

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As a professional runner, the success of my career is measured in time. Every race I toe the line, the hope is to improve my personal record by mere seconds (down to .01 of a second – yes even a 100th of a second can be a defining measure!). At this stage in my career, yes increasing my mileage and intensity of my training sessions is important, but RECOVERY is just as critical. I work diligently to recover quicker so I can be prepared to workout harder and experience those break through races. Even off the track time is essential as I look to recover as quickly and efficiently as possible.

So check out how I tried 3 different recovery methods to find the best result…

Monday- Recovery Method #1:

AM workout: 10.5 miles and gym session.

PM recovery: No recovery device used.

Reaction: Next morning’s run my legs are still feeling yesterday’s workout and overall slightly fatigued. Happy for an easy recovery run and an extra cup of coffee!

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Wednesday- Recovery Method #2:

AM workout: 10 miles and gym session

PM recovery: TENS machine targeting hips and hamstrings

Reaction: Next morning the TENS machine helped relieve a few targeted tight spots. Overall, legs were still feeling a bit stiff and sore.

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Friday- Recovery Method #3:

AM workout: 11 miles total for the day and gym session.

PM recovery: Marc Pro Plus, Single Leg Whole Focus (both legs).

Reaction: I left my morning session feeling tired, the real tightness and soreness set in a few hours later. After a nourishing dinner, I sat on the sofa using the Marc Pro Plus Single Leg Whole Focus for 20 mins on each leg (watching your favorite reality TV show is also key during recovery!). On Saturday, I woke up feeling rested and less sore than the morning after my Monday and Wednesday workouts. I often struggle with restless legs the night after a hard workout or race, but I feel like the Marc Pro took this out of the equation. The Marc Pro helped flush out some of the lactic acid from Friday’s workout and left me feeling recovered and ready to head out the door for Saturday morning’s 13 mile long run.

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Are you still waiting to experience the Marc Pro difference for yourself? Let Stephanie’s experiences with recovery serve as the nudge you need to bring your recovery game to another level. Whether you are an athlete, or someone who feels aches and pains after a long day of work, the Marc Pro could be the perfect tool to help you perform and feel your best each day. Check out www.marcpro.com to learn more about how you can try the Marc Pro risk-free.

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Activities of modern life, such as typing at a computer or even just being on our phones, have ultimately changed our body’s mechanics. We tend to have internally rotated shoulders, tight hip flexors, and many other issues that arise from being in a seated position or a position that is less than ideal (ie. head down looking at a phone). While modern life has provided us with many conveniences and improvements in the quality of our lives, there are also many problems that have resulted. To offset these issues, we need to be sure to take the necessary measures, such as practicing mobility exercises, to promote mobility, range of motion, and recovery so our bodies can stay healthy and active.

According to Brian Mackenzie, these are the top 3 mobility exercises everyone should be doing on the daily.

mobility exercisesMobility Exercise #1: Couch Stretch

• Find a wall
• Place knee about 6 inches from wall
• Bring other foot in front of body. Be sure to stay forward and do not let hips roll out to the side
• Activate glutes to bring hips towards the floor
• Squeeze for 3 seconds and release for 3 seconds. Repeat this multiple times to get hip flexors to open up.

There are a ton of variations around this stretch. In fact, they call it couch stretch because you can actually do it in a couch. To do this variation, put one leg back in the couch and have your other leg on the floor, then just lean back.

mobility exercisesMobility Exercise #2: Pigeon Stretch

• Find a platform that is slightly lower than your hips
• Place one leg on platform so that your shin is straight across and perpendicular to your body
• Keep rear foot that is on ground straight. If you turn your foot out, you’re just cheating yourself. Switch legs and repeat.

Another variation of the pigeon stretch is lotus or half lotus. A lot of Yogis use these positions since they are a great way to widen and open up the hips while still being able to access the diaphragm. While doing lotus or half lotus, set shoulders in external rotation while legs are crossed to get your spine in the desired position. For those who have never done this before, start with half Lotus and progress to full Lotus when you are ready to take it to the next level. Lotus creates a great way to stay mobile, especially when in a seated position.

mobility exercisesMobility Exercise #3: Shoulder Internal Rotation Stretch

• Lay down on ground
• Set shoulders down so that they touch the ground and lift hips
• Slide hands underneath hips. If you can only get your hands up to your hips that’s fine, but try to work your way up to getting your hands flat higher on your back.
• Once hands are in place, slightly lower your body down.
• Make sure shoulders remain touching the ground throughout the entire stretch
• Sit for 3 seconds with body lowered then bring body up
• Slowly lower body while squeezing your shoulders outward as you get lower and lower. Repeat this a few times.

Because we take part in activities that cause our shoulders to rotate internally, such as typing and texting, we need to perform other movements to offset these issues, like mobility exercises. After just 3 sets of the shoulder internal rotation stretch that takes about 10 seconds total, you will immediately experience more range of motion.

These 3 mobility exercises are essential for staying mobile, staying healthy, and maintaining or increasing range of motion. If you haven’t yet incorporated these or other mobility exercises into your daily routine, it’s time to start now. The best part is they take only minutes or even seconds and can be done almost anywhere.

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pain managementWe have all felt pain. We know that falling down and scraping our knee is painful. We know that breaking a bone can lead to excruciating pain. We know that after a tough workout, it might be painful for the body and back to move after being so sore. All of these experiences can be placed in the ‘pain’ category, but what is pain, and how does it actually relate to what is happening in the body?

Pain is classified as an individual feeling discomfort, distress, or even agony. There is no blanket understanding of what pain means for the masses, as pain is a completely individual experience.

What you are experiencing with pain may be completely different from what someone sitting next to you with a similar injury is experiencing. As a result, pain scales are commonly used to help better understand what one person is experiencing in regards to pain.

Pain is organized into two main categories: Nociceptive Pain and Non-Nociceptive Pain. Nociceptive Pain occurs when specific pain receptors become activated, including those that sense hot and cold, vibrations, stretch, and when damaged cells yield a specific chemical reaction. Non-Nociceptive Pain includes pain related to nerves and the sympathetic nervous system. This type of pain can occur with pinched nerves or other nerve issues, or when a soft tissue issue occurs causing sensitivity around the injured area.

Pain can be managed through injury prevention techniques and regular rehabilitation exercises, especially in regards to chronic injuries with Non-Nociceptive pain. Like pain, finding the best prevention methods are typically very specific to each person. Taking the time to properly warm-up and cool-down can help decrease the potential for injury, and in-turn, pain for an athlete or weekend warrior moving forward. When pain does set in, using techniques like yoga or the Marc Pro Plus can be very beneficial for relieving pain.

The phrase “No Pain, No Gain” is proudly plastered along locker room walls to inspire athletes to push through pain and physical discomfort.  However, should pain be heeded as a warning to stop pushing, or as something that we need to push through and learn our limits?

Tell the Marc Pro team your thoughts on Twitter about pain—is it something to push through or something to respond to immediately?  Is there a good balance between being ‘hard-core’ and knowing your body’s needs related to pain?

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