A Bulgarian bag is a type of weighted exercise equipment. It is a crescent-shaped bag, usually made of canvas or leather, with different sizes of handles sewn to each end. The bags are typically filled with sand — and perhaps other materials such as wool — and come in different weights. Bulgarian bags can be used for a wide range of exercises, including endurance, resistance, and strength training. It can be used to target several areas of the upper and lower body.
Bulgarian bags were invented by the Bulgarian Greco-Roman athlete Ivan Ivanov in 2005. The former Olympic competitor created the equipment to use in his work as a wrestling coach. He was inspired by the feats of strength shepherds in his home country would perform with their livestock at street fairs. The design of the bag enables an athlete to perform many of the same exercises as were demonstrated with these animals. Use of the bag has since spread from professional athletes to other fitness aficionados.
The average weight range of a Bulgarian bag is from 11 to 50 pounds (5 to 23 kilograms). A typical design would be filled with packets of sand, which are often wrapped with wool to give the bag shape. The bags themselves are usually made of goat leather or canvas. There are often several handles of varying sizes sewn to the ends of the bag in order to accommodate a wide range of different exercises.
Bulgarian bags can be used for several kinds of training exercises. The bag can be placed on the shoulders to provide resistance for exercises such as lunges, push-ups, pull-ups, and squats. It can also be used as a free weight, with the athlete holding both ends and lifting the bag up and down in different positions. The bag can also be used to increase strength and flexibility with swinging exercises that move from side-to-side and up around the body.
Benefits of using the Bulgarian bag include a stronger grip; greater endurance; and more highly-developed muscles in areas such as the arms, back, shoulders, and legs. It can also help to strengthen the core and rotational muscles and promote overall joint flexibility. The bags offer a more comprehensive variety of resistance training as it is easier to change position with the bag than with standard static weights. An intense, sustained workout with a Bulgarian bag can also provide an aerobic benefit and increased metabolism.