In today’s comparison guide we have chosen to compare the Bulgarian bag vs sandbag and show their many workout styles and benefits.
The fitness market is filled with new tools and equipment designed to help you reach your fitness goals. Sometimes new technology can be beneficial, but for many people, it’s often better to stick to the basics.
A simple piece of workout equipment like the Bulgarian workout bag also referred to as functional training bags provide you with a way to gain muscle, burn fat, and lose pounds, without the use of technology or the latest fad in workout equipment.
The Bulgarian bag can be used anywhere, indoors or outdoors, which makes it a great addition to anyone’s collection of workout equipment. The Bulgarian workout bag is gaining popularity with athletes from many different disciplines.
Read on to learn about these training bags and find ways to incorporate this unique and affordable piece of equipment into your regular workout routine.
- What is a Bulgarian Workout Bag?
- What is a Workout Sandbag?
- Bulgarian Bag vs Sandbag
- What are the Benefits of Training with a Bulgarian Bag vs Sandbag?
- Why Should You Be Using a Bulgarian Workout Bag?
- What Type of Exercises Can You Do With The Bulgarian Workout Bag?
- 5 Popular Bulgarian Bag Exercises
- Closing Remarks
What is a Bulgarian Workout Bag?
The Bulgarian workout bag, also known as the functional training bag, was originally created in 2005 to help wrestlers with strength and endurance. The creation of the bag is credited to Ivan Ivanov, a former world-class athlete, and wrestling trainer. The invention of the bag stemmed from the need for versatile training tools that were safe to use in the wrestling training room.
The Bulgarian workout bag has a half-moon shape and is usually filled with sand. Most are constructed of leather, synthetic leather, or canvas. The feature that differentiates the Bulgarian bag from the traditional sandbag is the unique shape which allows for a wide range of motion to target many of the body’s muscle groups.
Although the bag was developed with wrestlers in mind, it has actually gained popularity with those who train in other sports. MMA fighters and athletes in other disciplines have used these bags for use as a way to enhance their workout.
What is a Workout Sandbag?
Sandbags are similar to the Bulgarian workout bag in some ways, but the methods of use and the end results from these two pieces of equipment can vary greatly.
A sandbag has a different shape and creates a different range of motion when used. Sandbags are designed to change their shape as they move which can target many different muscle groups during use. They have no consistent form which makes them challenging to use.
Sandbags are often used for CrossFit training. The problem that many people have with using sandbags is that they are very difficult to control due to the shifting of the sand inside. This lack of control is can be frustrating which is why many athletes and trainers prefer the Bulgarian bag to traditional sandbags.
There are however others who welcome this uneven weight distribution as it helps to strengthen stabilizer muscles and improve balance. Which for some athletes can be an important part of their workout routine.
Bulgarian Bag vs Sandbag
When you’re using a Bulgarian bag, you can rely on more consistent movements that help you target specific areas of the body.
It doesn’t have the instability associated with standard sandbags which gives you complete control over your movements.
The weight inside the bag doesn’t shift with your movements like it does when working out with a sandbag. This means exercises are precise and highly controlled by your strength and abilities.
These functional training bags come in different weights and most brands are differentiated by weight based on the colors of the handles. You may want to invest in a couple of different weights of Bulgarian bags to use for different types of exercises.
What are the Benefits of Training with a Bulgarian Bag vs Sandbag?
Functional training bags have extremely versatile and have many benefits which will be explained later in detail. But first a quick list of the reasons you may want to invest in a Bulgarian workout bag:
- can be used for a wide variety of workout styles
- improves overall body strength and agility
- excellent for core conditioning
- highly dynamic and functional training
- combines cardio and strength training into one
- the perfect tool for increasing your grip strength
- extremely durable
- available in many weights and sizes
Titan Functional Training Bags -- All Sizes!
The Bulgarian bag is designed to change your grips when compared to the grips used with traditional sandbags. With its unique design, you can more easily build strength and gain muscle in your forearms while also increasing your hand grip strength.
For those who have trained with sandbags in the past, understand that your grip on the Bulgarian bag will be somewhat different and will require much more control as it typically envolves much faster movements.
There are also exercises, many of which force a high core response, that can only be done with this type of bag. These exercises work out several muscle groups at once and will greatly increase your workout efficiency. So when you have limited time to work out, this bag makes it easier to hit various muscle groups simultaneously.
The following video shows a few different commonly performed Bulgarian bag exercises:
Why Should You Be Using a Bulgarian Workout Bag?
Nearly anyone can benefit from using a Bulgarian workout bag. It’s an excellent option if you’re looking for ways to improve your endurance and strength. These bags are quite affordable when compared to other workout equipment and they don’t require a lot of space for use or for storage. They come in several different weight options with 18 pounds, 26 pounds, and 37 pounds being some of the most common sizes available.
While gaining strength is not the main focus of using the functional training bag, hence the lower weights of the bags, you can build muscle in areas of your body that may be lacking with the use of other types of equipment. The main challenge that comes with using the bag is learning the techniques.
The Bulgarian workout bag is a great tool to increase your flexibility. The use of the bag teaches you to balance your body in new ways, especially when doing spin-style exercises. If you’re experienced in working with kettlebells, you can get a similar feeling to those swing exercises but with a more dynamic movement.
The use of the Bulgarian bag helps you learn control and allows for full-body movement. This dynamic movement makes you use those often neglected core muscles, which means better balance and stability during exercise and everyday activities.
Working out with the Bulgarian bag requires you to keep your body stabilized and gives you the motivation to keep your core muscles engaged during the workout. A strong core is the goal of many fitness enthusiasts and when you can train those extremely important core muscles at the same time you do other muscle groups, you’re able to better utilize your workout time.
One of the great things about using the bag is that you’ll know immediately when your form is off. This helps prevent ineffective workouts and also reduces injuries related to poor form.
The Bulgarian workout bag is travel-friendly and perfect for those who like to get in a good workout on vacation. You can use the bag indoors and outdoors, depending on the way you prefer to train.
These bags are also extremely durable and can stand up to heavy-duty usage. They last for many years which makes them a good investment if you’re looking for workout gear on a budget.
The flexible handles on the Bulgarian bag give you the option to target specific muscle groups and provide an efficient way to increase your grip strength
What Type of Exercises Can You Do With The Bulgarian Workout Bag?
One of the best things about these training bags is that you can easily incorporate it into your regular workout routine. Most of the exercises that use the bag are simple in design and easy to do correctly, even for those who aren’t experienced in the gym.
Learning proper bag control is the challenge with the Bulgarian bag. There are plenty of online videos that can show you specific moves and techniques to help you get the most from your workout using these functional training bags. Athletes and exercise gurus of all types have found nearly endless ways to use the Bulgarian workout bag.
Functional Training Bulgarian Bag Workout of the Week:
You can check out the available Suples Bulgarian Workout Bags here on Amazon.
5 Popular Bulgarian Bag Exercises
The following exercises can be done as a warm-up or can be used for a full cardio workout using circuit training. If you’re new to using the bag, you can start slowly with 20-25 second circuits and buildup to longer circuits as your grip increases and your muscles gain strength and awareness of the movements.
Some popular Bulgarian bag exercises include:
- rotational swing
- lateral swing
- swing to squat
- lateral lunge
Halo: The halo is a popular exercise that involves holding the bag above your head and swinging it one rotation. Ideally, you switch directions with each rotation which helps open up the shoulders. This exercise also helps create a stronger core and makes you conscious of keeping your spine in proper alignment to prevent injury.
Rotational Swing: In this Bulgarian bag exercise, grab the bag in front of your body and swing it in a circle, while dropping your knees during the lowest point. To get the most from this particular move, you should change directions every 15-20 seconds. This movement works the shoulders and helps you keep your obliques engaged. Twisting your torso during the swing helps you keep momentum and keep those core muscles active.
Lateral Swing: Like the previously mentioned rotational swing, the lateral swing also works the shoulder and oblique muscle groups. With the lateral swing, you place the bag around your neck with the weight behind your head. The movement involves stepping to one side, then the other side, while slightly shifting the bag with you to each side. This move works best when you focus on keeping your torso in the upright position as you push your hips into a slight squat.
Swing to Squat: The swing to squat move works just like it sounds. You begin by swinging the bag between your legs as you dip down slightly, then swing it up over your head and onto your shoulders. Once the bag is resting on your shoulders, lower into a squat position, then remove the bag from your shoulders, and repeat the sequence. This exercise works the hamstrings, glutes, and your core muscles. It works well for those who struggle with getting into a deep squat position doing other moves.
Lateral Lunges: Our last Bulgarian bag exercise is the lateral lunge, which is great for building strength in your quads and glutes. This move involves putting the bag over one shoulder while holding it securely with both hands. Take a wide step to the side and lower the bag until you feel a pull in the groin muscles. Return to the starting position and repeat the sequence. Not only does this move help you with posture and spine alignment during exercising, but it also helps work your glutes and gives you more mobility in your hips.
Bulgarian workout bags can also be useful to add extra weight to body-weight exercises. Finding ways to use the bag when you do push-ups, traditional squats, lunges, and more, can add more resistance to strengthen your muscles and increase your endurance. Using one of these bags during your regular workout routine allows you to vary your movements to work different muscles and prevent boredom.
If you’re looking for effective and efficient workout gear, the functional training bag may be perfect for you. These bags can be used by nearly anyone to help gain strength, endurance, and build lean muscle. They are similar to traditional workout sandbags in some ways, but can actually be easier to use, and better for overall body conditioning.
The shape of these functional training bags is what sets it apart from other sand-filled bags. This half-moon shape allows for a wide range of motion to work those muscle groups that often get neglected during other types of exercise. Plus, when you consider the price of the Bulgarian workout bag, and the convenience of being able to use it anywhere, you can see how great an investment it can be for anyone looking for a new and innovative way to get fit.
If you’re looking for a way to add a new element to your regular workout routine, need to increase your grip strength, or just want to try some new techniques, the Bulgarian workout bag is a great addition to your workout gear.
With over 30 years of experience in strength training and fitness, Mark LaRue is the founder of Fitness Mastered, a blog to help educate fitness enthusiasts of all fitness levels, ages, and gender. We write topics that range from weight training tips and exercise routines to home workout machine and fitness related product reviews, to name a few.