Morpheus Recovery is an application developed by Joel Jamieson for the purpose of optimizing training and recovery. By importing heart rate, heart rate variability, sleep, activity and training data from various devices, this system analyzes the current state of a person’s body and helps them to determine how best to approach training and lifestyle each day.
People in combat sports may know Joel from seeing him in the cage with the former UFC Champion Demetrius “Mighty Mouse” Johnson; Jamieson is DJ’s long-time strength and conditioning coach. He is the author of Ultimate MMA Conditioning, 8 Weeks Out, the developer of the Bioforce Conditioning Coach Certification (which I’ve completed and loved) and the Recover to Win course (in progress for me).
Bioforce HRV was Joel’s first HRV measurement system and I used it (incorrectly) in 2013 to prepare for my first jiu jitsu tournament. I was writing a series for Breaking Muscle documenting my physical preparation and in my research I had found Joel’s website, 8weeksout.com.
WHY DO YOU NEED MORPHEUS?
There are a lot of systems out there that track HRV. Systems like Whoop, Apple and Garmin however the reason I have chosen to use Morpheus is because I believe it’s the best system for tracking HRV and for monitoring fitness programs.
As I mentioned, I took the Bioforce Conditioning Coach certification but I also took the Women are Not Small Men course with Dr Stacy Sims. The “ground breaking” advice offered for women approaching menopause is basically the same strategy Joel uses on all of his athletes: varying training intensities to allow the body to adapt and improve.
A simple way to look at it is this: there are four different types of training days.
- Moderate Intensity / Volume
- High Intensity / Volume
- Rebound Training
If you want to progress, you have to use all four during your training week. Too many of one type of day can cause burnout, low energy availability, or just not show results at all. A basic training week should have all four types of days sequenced. An example from the Morpheus website is below.
With Morpheus, you can see how your body is recovering to ensure that your programming is allowing your body to adapt properly to avoid negative consequences. Monitoring is an essential piece of the training strategy.
Your daily score will be green, orange or red. If it is consistently green, you may not be training hard enough to progress. If it’s consistently orange, you may not be recovering enough. If it’s consistently red, you would have to scale back and focus on ensuring your body has what it needs to adapt and recover. The app has a number of recovery strategies outlined depending up on the state of the body.
The daily score will also affect the heart rate zones that you see during your training with the M5 or M7 monitor. If you have a low recovery score and a hard training session planned, you would scale back your intensity to ensure you are in the correct zone for training that day. Once you understand the system, you will see why so many athletes depend upon it.
IS THE MORPHEUS RECOVERY SYSTEM TOO COMPLEX FOR THE AVERAGE JOE?
In 2013, I’ll admit I was a bit lost with Bioforce HRV, even after (partially) reading the manual. In 2021, Morpheus still has a learning curve for the Average Jane/Joe/Jem. The introduction of the Recovery Challenge in November 2021 has made it much easier for the new user to understand how their training and lifestyle affects what they see on their screens each day.
The daily readings give the basics of the Bioforce Conditioning Coach certification to users in bite-sized pieces right in the app so they can learn over time to intelligently structure their lifestyle to maximize health. Subjects covered are physical and mental stress, sleep, nutrition, recovery methods such as sauna and ice baths, self-myofascial release and breath work.
Users who still have questions will be pleased to have access to Dan Hubley in the Morpheus Users Facebook Group. He’s one of the most knowledgeable and readily available company representatives I’ve ever seen.
MORPHEUS: THE FOUR QUADRANTS
You can see in the screenshot of my home screen that there are four quadrants in the Morpheus app: Sleep, HRV, Activity and Train. Each segment imports information from various devices or external apps and incorporates everything into a daily recovery score.
For me, the upper left section, sleep, is imported from Fitbit. To track sleep I’ve been using the Fitbit Blaze. With the Blaze, the total hours of sleep are calculated based on Fitbit’s algorithms using your heartbeat, heart rate variability and your movement patterns. You may not realize how many times you wake up during the night but as you can see in the analysis below, it can happen quite often. Fitbit deducts those incidents from your total sleep time.
To learn more about the importance of sleep, check out Joe Rogan’s podcast with Matthew Walker.
The upper right segment is the HRV segment and this is what the old Bioforce HRV app used to track. This data is pulled in from the M5 Armband, which you wear on your forearm. At the time of the original writing of this review, I had the first Morpheus Recovery band however I’ve since upgraded to the M5, which I’ll describe more in the Train segment.
So what is HRV?
To put it simply, HRV is: a non-invasive gauge of autonomic nervous system (ANS) function.
The ANS is divided into two branches:
Sympathetic (fight or flight)
Parasympathetic (rest and digest)
Each branch is responsible for relaying info back to the brain and causing changes in the tissues so that the body can adapt to its environment.
How HRV works: the electrical signals from the brain to the heart are broken down into a pattern and quantified as the amount of time from one beat to the next.
The heart beats in different patterns depending on the influence of the two branches of the ANS.
The greater the influence of the parasympathetic nervous system, the higher the HRV value; the opposite is true for the sympathetic nervous system.Source: https://www.8weeksout.com/hrv-training-revolution-day-1/
The M5 arm band has a visual display so users can monitor heart rate and heart rate zones during training. It has an internal memory so if the user isn’t connected to the Morpheus app during training, they can sync with the app afterwards to determine the effect of their training on their recovery score.
For vigorous activities you’ll need a Bluetooth chest strap. The optical sensor in the recovery band cannot get an accurate reading when it is moving very quickly. I used to use the Polar H10 chest strap but this strap had to be connected to my phone in order to track my training. The new M7 Chest Strap from Morpheus records workouts and does not require connection during training.
I have used the M3 Heart Rate Monitor chest strap during BJJ and have not found it to get in the way at all. The new M7 chest strap is much more slim and although I don’t train BJJ any longer, I find it less bulky to wear in all of my training.
If you have questions about specs and capabilities, you can find a full write up here. Regarding my experience with using the chest strap, I find it a lot more convenient than using the Polar H10 because I just put it on, it records my workout and then I import it into Morpheus to see how the training affected my recovery score. I can also connect to Morpheus as I’m training to monitor my heart rate zones as I train.
M7 Chest Strap Specs
- The most accurate ECG and sensor in the industry packed into a slim and lightweight design
- Compatible with ALL Bluetooth, ANT+ and 5 kHz devices and apps.
- 10 hours of memory that can be uploaded directly to Morpheus.
- Up to 200 hours battery life
- Extended range up to 30ft for a better connection.
- Unique ID to eliminate confusion when connecting to the app
Watching the above video, I can really see how Joel has taken all of his previous training and tracking methods and incorporated it into the Morpheus system.
With Morpheus, specifically with the new recovery band that he’s developed for the system, you can easily see what zone you’re training in and adjust your training appropriately. You can see below, I went to the gym on March 6, 2019 to do a rebound workout and so I connected to Morpheus as I was training. My zones were displayed on the screen and when I saw that I was going outside of recovery (blue) and into conditioning (green) I tried my best to slow down and make sure I didn’t go into overload. My workout improved my recovery for the day by 2%.
Initially I was tracking steps with the Fitbit Blaze but where my training was focused on BJJ and strength and conditioning, I decided it wasn’t necessary to track steps where I know I have an average of 7,500 to 10,000 steps every day.
When you purchase the Morpheus Recovery system, you will have access to the online community. For me, this is a big asset because there are a lot of high level of athletes who chime in and help with questions or progress posts.
Since I began using Bioforce HRV, and now the new Morpheus Recovery system, I rely on my daily recovery score to see how my body is doing. It’s a product I wouldn’t want to do without and it’s been interesting to see how Joel has worked over the years to bring everything together into one system so athletes can see the big picture.
In addition to his individual athletic products, Jamieson has recently offered Morpheus for coaches for use in group fitness. I admire Joel’s never-ending quest for knowledge and improvement and look forward to the evolution of the Morpheus system for athletes.
Get your Morpheus Recovery System for $147US and M7 Chest Strap for $57US at TrainWithMorpheus.com. Morpheus can be used with both iPhone and Android.