Basics of the Bulgarian Bag

FREE Report: Building Strong Fighters and Grapplers!

Part 1 of 3 by Stephen Nave

Bulgarian Training Bag The Bulgarian Training Bag is the ultimate extreme fitness tool for serious Olympic caliber athletes, tactical/combat athletes and the average person wanting to take their muscle strength and endurance to the next level.

With the trend toward functional training, exercises that prepare your body for real-life movements—the Bulgarian Training Bag is on the cutting edge. The Bulgarian Training Bag is truly functional and maximizes your strength, muscular endurance, cardiovascular fitness, mobility, and overall explosiveness.

The unique shape of the bag is designed to allow for both upper and lower body training while emphasizing superior grip strength at all times. The three different types of handles allow athletes to execute exercises using different grips and provide unparalleled variation to your training. The bags come in 6sizes: 11, 17, 26, 37, 50 and 80lb. and are made with virtually indestructible Bulgarian leather. Each size and weight can be identified by the different colors of the strap handle. Listed below are 3 core fundamental movements, the spin, the swing snatch and the arm throw, that make the Bulgarian bag unique.  Check out my Youtube channel for video on these core fundamental movements.

1.  Lateral arm throw (Core movement)

Grab the Bulgarian Bag by the main handles and throw it over your right shoulder so that it rests on your left shoulder blade, keeping the handles as close together as possible. With a slight side lunge on the right leg, aggressively throw the bag off your shoulder, twist your body, and extend your arms while shifting your weight and lunging to the left. Use your core to decelerate the momentum of the bag, and then rapidly accelerate the bag back to the right using your core and loaded leg. Aggressively return to the starting position with the bag over the right shoulder.

2.  Swingsnatch (Core movement)

Start with your feet apart wider than shoulder-width to allow the bag to pass between your legs. Hold the Bulgarian Bag by the main handles, swing the bag through your legs, and then accelerate using your hamstrings and glutes to swing the bag back over and behind your head—the bag should lightly tap you on the shoulders. Then explosively accelerate the bag as if you were going to throw it on the floor, but allow the bag to pass between your legs and repeat the movement, maintaining a slightly bent knee with a flat back and pivoting from the hips.

3.  Press-up

Place the Bulgarian Bag on your shoulders with the main handles pointing forward and the straps against your shoulder—the label should face your back. Put your arms through the straps and around your shoulders. In a push-up position, the bag should sit comfortably centered around the small of your back. Starting from the leaning rest, keep your legs straight and your toes tucked under your feet, and perform a push-up. Do not to bend or arch your upper or lower back as you push up. Keeping your abdominals contracted will help keep you hips tucked under.

4.  Get-up sit-up

Lay on your back and grab the Bulgarian Bag by the side handles and press it overhead with the main handles pointing behind your head. Hold the bag straight up, with your elbows locked. Engaging your core, rise up off the floor, to an upright seated position. Tighten your abs and squeeze your glutes at the top of the motion. Come back down slowly, keeping your arms straight, your entire core tight and the bag still pressed overhead until your body is back in a lying position

Bulgarian Training Bag

5.  Spin (Core movement)

Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart with your toes angled out slightly and grab the Bulgarian Bag by the main handles. Stand upright and with moderate effort swing the bag around your head. Use the downward swing to help generate momentum to swing the bag back around your head. Press your feet into the ground keeping you core muscles tight and activated. Breathing is key and anatomical breathing is best used here. Exhale on the downward swing and inhale as your chest expends and the bag goes over your head.

Sample beginner workout

1. Complete Phase 1 movements, taking 1 minute rest in-between sets. Then move on to Phase 2

2. Each set should take about 1:30 to complete

3. Document your time for each set

4. No rest between movements for each set

4 Set Protocol

Strength Endurance-Metabolic Conditioning

High Cognitive Challenge-Gross Movement Patterns

Total Duration: ___________

Phase One

Phase Two

Movements Reps Set 1 Time Movements Reps Set 3 Time
Spins (right then left) 10/10   Spins (left then right) 10/10  
Swing Snatch 10 Swing Snatch 10
Arm Throw 10/10 Set 2 Time Arm Throw 10/10 Set 4 Time
Push-Ups on Bag 10   Triceps Push-Ups on Bag 10