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How Wresting & Sheep Herding Created the Bulgarian Bag

How Wresting & Sheep Herding Created the Bulgarian Bag

March 10, 2022 3 min read

How Wresting & Sheep Herding Created the Bulgarian Bag

Functional fitness training is full of odd-shaped objects with colourful histories, but what’s the story behind the Bulgarian Bag? It might surprise you to know it was only invented in 2005 – but was inspired by much older traditions.


What is a Bulgarian Bag?

Bulgarian Bags are a fantastic piece of functional training kit, a bit like a sandbag but suitable for a wider range of exercises. Usually made of leather, they are shaped a bit like a croissant (or maybe we’re just hungry…) 

Fun fact: the inventor of the Bulgarian Bag took inspiration from shepherds in his homeland of Bulgaria who would perform acts of strength by slinging lambs over their shoulders and using the animals as load.


What is a Bulgarian Bag used for?

Once you know the origins of this strange-shaped bag, you can understand how many different exercises can be done with it. The shape, weight, and handles make it perfect for lifting, pressing, pulling, loaded carries, and a huge number of lower body exercises as well as adding weight to cardio and conditioning work.

Check out our Bulgarian Bag training blog for a beginner’s guide to the best exercises you can do with your new Bulgarian bag.


Is a Bulgarian Bag like a sandbag?

Bulgarian Bags share some similarities with sandbags, but they’re a totally different bit of kit. Whilst sandbags tend to be awkward to lift and carry, Bulgarian bags are easier to manoeuvre (which makes them better suited to moving quickly or for a lot of reps). The fact that you have to grip the handles means Bulgarian Bags will also develop your grip strength. 

Bulgarian Bags have a smoother outer, which means they’re more comfortable to put on your back, and the weight inside the bag doesn’t move as much as sand in a sandbag.


Who invented the Bulgarian Bag?

Although Bulgarian Bags take inspiration from the ancient art of sheep herding, the kit itself was invented much more recently. Professional Greco-Roman wrestler Ivan Ivanov (who went on to compete at Olympic and World level) developed the Bulgarian Bag in 2005 during his time as Head Greco-Roman Wrestling Coach at the United States Olympic Training and Education Centre.


When were Bulgarian Bags first used?

Bulgarian Bags were first used by the athletes being coaches by Ivanov in the mid-2000s, but it didn’t take long for the equipment to gain mainstream popularity. These days, Bulgarian Bags can be found in functional fitness gyms, S&C centres, athlete training facilities, and home gyms.

Due to their size and adaptability, Bulgarian Bags are a great addition to any home gym (even if your home gym is just a corner of your living room). They don’t need any assembly – just grab them and get going.

Bulgarian Bags can be used in your warm up, for mobility work, to add load to your cardio, or for strength training. They come in a variety of weights so are suitable for pretty much anyone!


Where to buy Bulgarian Bags in the UK

We stock a range of quality Bulgarian Bags that are ideal for home workouts or a gym setting. They are durable, practical, and look good too! Check out our range of Bulgarian Bags in the UK at the Gravity Fitness store.