Planning is paramount in sport. Among different philosophical approaches to planning, periodization is a highly popular concept that refers to structured training periods with ensuing programs encompassing moments of progressively-loaded training, followed by recovery; it is normally deemed paramount to optimize adaptations and performance. While planning provides generic guidelines, periodization refers to the sequencing/ordering of training periods to enforce a given plan, therefore referring to longer temporal scales, and programming refers to more micro-scale aspects. In fact, similar periodization schemes may implement distinct programming strategies. Literature on the topic has used the linear and nonlinear terms to describe the content of periodized programs. However, these concepts have not been clearly defined in the literature, which may lead to inaccurate and misleading interpretations. Moreover, nonlinear periodization is usually using nonlinear programming, but with pre-stipulated sequencing of the training periods. Finally, it can be argued that nonlinearity has been an integral part of periodization since its inception, at least theoretically. In this essay, the literature was critically reviewed to better understand the validity of the linearity and nonlinearity concepts as applied in currently proposed periodization models. In addition, a novel approach for a de facto nonlinear periodization is presented.
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