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  Make your own Bulgarian Training Bag

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The Bulgarian Bag was invented by Ivan Ivanov at around 2005.  Ivanov, a former Bulgarian Greco-Roman Olympic athlete, was working as a U.S. Olympic Greco-Roman wrestling coach at the Olympic training center in Marquette, Michigan and was looking for a training tool that would allow his wrestlers to improve explosive actions and dynamic movements involved in pushing, twisting, swinging, pulling, bending, rotating, squatting, lunging, and throwing.

Ivanov was inspired by the tradition of shepherds performing strength acts with sheep and goats on street fairs in his native Bulgaria. The shepherds were often forced to carry lambs and weak sheep around their shoulders when they were wandering with their herds, and were showing off their strength at festivals. Ivanov based the design of his tool on the body of an ovine and saw its use as a modern interpretation of the old tradition.

Although the Bulgarian Bag was initially designed for Olympic class wrestlers, it came to be adopted by fitness trainers and professional athletes for its ability to increase muscular endurance and make weight training more versatile.  One of the first advocates of the Bulgarian Bag outside the Olympic wrestling circuit was fitness specialist and retired Navy SEAL Stephen Nave. Along with Ivan Ivanov they formed the International Bulgarian Bag Confederation to educate the public and offer advanced instruction to individual consumers, personal trainers and fitness establishments.

The unique shape of the bag created by Ivan Ivanov is designed to achieve both upper and lower body training.

Muscular Endurance Training

  • Training with the bag is designed specifically for building strength and overall conditioning by performing high intensity repetitions with short rest intervals.
  • The number of repetitions for each exercise can be anywhere from 15-30 per set or 30-60 seconds per set with only 10-15 seconds of rest between each set.
  • The sets for each exercise can range between 2 and 5. Remember, bag training is not about lifting it only few times per set, it is about pushing through when you are tired and fatigued. (This is my special recommendation for athletes that have set high goals within their sport)

Explosive Power Training Below are the most coming exercises when building explosive power with the Suples Bulgarian Bag.

  • Upper body:  Spinning the bag to the right and left, power snatches, shoulder throw imitation or baseball swings, throwing the bag over chest - body lock throw imitation, body twists and a few others.

  • Lower Body:  Long jumps, squats jumps, lunges, jumping over the bag sideways, scissors with the bag, swing squats, sprinting with the bag on level surface or on a incline like bleachers or hills.

When training for explosive power, you want to perform 3 to 5 sets of 12 to 15 reps per exercise, with 1 to 2 minutes of rest between sets.

Using the bag during warm-ups:  The bag can be very helpful as a warm up before physical activity, especially before weightlifting. Some of the best exercises for loosening up your muscles are: Spinning the bag, bend over-good mornings, body twists - left to right , squats, lunges among others.  Based on ability and level of preparation, each coach or athlete can custom design workouts to maximize user potential.

Do-It-Yourself Construction



  1. 1:  Heavy Duty Inner Tube (Larin Passenger Tube).
  2. 1:  50lb bag of sand.
  3. 2:  Heavy Duty Zip Ties
  4. 1:  Contractor Cleanup Bag
  5. Duct Tape


This has to be one of the easiest pieces of equipment that I've made (along with sandbags). 

  • Simply cut a small section from the inner tube (including the nipple). 

  • Roll one end of the inner tube up (start from the inside out) and zip tie it to create a handle.  I prefer to run a piece of duct tape over the zip tie for added security and abrasion resistance.

  • When using a fine material like sand, I prefer to stuff a contractor quality trash bag inside of the inner tube to prevent leakage.  Fill the bag with sand and tie and tape it.  (When filling my bag, I continued to weigh it until I came up with 35 lbs.)

  • Roll, Zip, and Tape the other side of the tube.

  • Done!

Some of the plans that I have seen for these bags use a bunch of tape on the handles.  I prefer the rubberized feel of the inner tube.  So rather than purchasing a quality leather bag for $150-$300... I made this great training tool for about $20!



The Bulgarian Bag (

YouTube:  40 Exercises with Bulgarian Training Bag




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