This was a long awaited book from Joel, especially if you have already purchased BioForce HRV, since this is the manual that accompany the system and it was slightly delayed because Joel was improving and extending its content. Luckily for us, because the book is much more than the simple user guide for BioForce HRV. The wait is justified.
The binding of the book is very similar to his first book Ultimate MMA Conditioning. This means it survived twisting, bending and text underlying I usually do to the books and it will survive frequent referencing. It has 130+ pages, with black-and-white graphics and big font for easy reading.
The Ultimate Guide to HRV training starts with Quickstart User Guide section that allows you to jump start the whole process of monitoring and using BioForce HRV, along with short FAQ.
The next section of the book – The Stress Of Training – deals with basic understanding of stress, homeostasis, allostasis, adapatation, training process and training continuum. Joel have unique skill to put complex issues from different research fields in a reader friendly way and holistic/unified way. I haven’t read something so concise, short and easy to read when it comes to very complex and crucial fundamentals of training theory.
The following section – Managing the Training Process – deals with how to use HRV along with other monitoring tools to optimize your training process and thus adaptations, avoid overtraining, stagnation and injuries. Before reading this chapter (and whole book) I thought that the higher the HRV the better, but now I’ve learn that this is not the case and that different ‘reactions’ occur at different phases of the training continuum (according to Joel).
In the chapter on management of the training week (microcycle), Joel discusses different models of weekly load distribution, starting with traditional, high/low, intensive, balanced and extensive. I have never before read this kind of information on one place, along with when to use certain models and why. Joel only forgot to include ‘block’ organization of the weekly load, where you have heavy days back-to-back. Also, you can find an easy way to utilize HRV to calculate weekly load.
In Managing the Training Block chapter, Joel provides GREAT summary of different (should I call it) periodization strategies, their usage, pros and cons and current misunderstandings. It covers linear loading, undulating loading, concentrated loading, volume loading, and uniform loading. I really loved how he explained the confusion between ‘western periodization’ and linear loading. You can also find basic principles of block programming and how to create Macro Training Blocks.
The book finishes with Recovery and Regeneration chapter. Compared to other sources out there, this chapter actually explains why it is bad to use ‘shotgun’ approach to recovery and regeneration and why it is important to use the right tools for the job at the right time. After reading this chapter, and whole book, I can honestly say I finally understand the difference between sympathetic dominant and parasympathetic dominant over-reaching and which methods and tools to use to restore autonomic balance.
As I have stated in the beginning of this review, this book is a lot more than a manual how to use BioForce HRV. Joel has an outstanding ability to simplify and connect very difficult problems and put them into ready to use guidelines which can be very easily seen upon reading this book.
In my opinion, even if you never ever plan using HRV (bad for you) you should definitely check this book because it clarifies some of the very complex problems of training organization in simple and friendly language. I will definitely reference this book and re-read it numerous times as his Ultimate MMA Conditioning.
The only negative thing about the book is that it is not referenced with peer-reviewed research, but it was not intended to provide review of the literature in the first place. Anyway, having a reference to back-up some claims would improve the overall quality of this book.