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4 Functional Exercises to Try With The Bulgarian Bag

The Bulgarian Bag is the funny “U” shaped bag you often see people sling over their shoulders for movements like lunges and squats. While that is a comfortable way to add weight to those movements, the Bulgarian Bag is meant for so much more.

We do so many exercises in the sagittal plane - push weight away from you, pull weight back to you, step forward and back - but we neglect so many other planes of motion. In the real world, people rotate, move laterally, and absorb forces. The Bulgarian Bag is one of the ultimate tools for training multi-planar loaded movements.

If you aren’t training in these planes yet, here are 4 functional exercises to try with the Bulgarian Bag:


1. Side-to-Side Swing

  1. Hold the bag by the horns, elbows at 90°, in front of the body.
  2. Take a shoulder-width stance.
  3. Start to swing the bag from side to side while shifting your hips to the opposite side. Ex - Bag to the left, hips to the right.
  4. Start to turn your shoulders towards the bag after you’ve learned the rhythm with your arms and hips.

 2. Arm Throw

  1. Start with a swing and establish a rhythm.
  2. Add a bit more effort to the end of the swing and shift the hips back towards the bag. Ex - Bag comes up the right side, push hips to the right. (Feels like “cha-cha”)
  3. Slice the opposite elbow up and across the body to guide the bag to the shoulder. Ex - Bag to the right, slice the left elbow up and across.
  4. Absorb the force softly on the shoulder by softening through the knees
  5. Use your legs to propel the weight back off the shoulder, re-establish the swing, and repeat.

 3. Spin

  1. Start with a swing and establish a rhythm.
  2. Like the Arm Throw, push your hips towards the bag as you swing it upwards. (cha-cha).
  3. Slice the elbows up, keeping them bent, and drive the bag behind your head. Keep the bag moving fast, as we want to minimize “dead spots”. Losing momentum will cause the bag to crash into you. Also try to keep the bag close to the body like a halo, rather than reaching high like a rainbow.
  4. Absorb the motion as the bag comes down the other side of the body, and continue with a swing.
  5. Start with one spin at a time, separated by swings. Progress to consecutive spins in the same direction.

 4. Rotational Snatch

  1. Start with a swing and establish a rhythm.
  2. Like the Arm Throw, push your hips towards the bag as you swing it upwards. (cha-cha).
  3. Rotate the shoulders and hips towards the bag, extend through the opposite side leg. Ex - bag to the right, straighten left leg.
  4. Punch up to extend both arms as the bag gently contacts the forearms.
  5. Finish the movement facing to the side in a staggered stance with the bag above your head.
  6. Drop the bag bag into the swing motion and repeat. 

You have so many options to incorporate these movements into your workouts:



 Dynamic Warmup: 2-3 rounds of 5 for each movement to the right and left

Superset Bulgarian Bag exercises with your current strength exercises for added conditioning and mobility benefit:

  • Bench Press x5
  • Bulgarian Bag Arm Throw x10 each side

Set a timer and finish your workout with a core and conditioning circuit:

  • 20 seconds WORK/10 seconds REST
    • Swing
    • Arm Throw R
    • Arm Throw L
    • Spin R
    • Spin L
    • Snatch R
    • Snatch L
  • Rest 30 seconds and restart for 2-3 rounds.

Choose one exercise for conditioning:

    • 5-10 alternating Spins on each side
    • Repeat every minute on the minute for 4-8 rounds

Try some of these exercises and workout ideas to add some fun and functional movements into your routine!

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