Bulgarian Bag

The Bulgarian Bag (BB) is a functional movement tool invented by Ivan Ivanoff — a highly accomplished international Greco‐Roman Wrestler and coach. Although he developed the tool for wrestling it can be used by an extremely wide range of users and is probably the most versatile functional training device available. Because of the bag’s unique shape and composition, it allows loaded movement in all three planes of movement. The BB facilitates functional overload in rotational movement patterns not possible with any other training modality, along with allowing a total body conditioning workout that addresses strength, power, anaerobic endurance, cardiovascular fitness, and high levels of caloric expenditure for weight management.

Functional Core Conditioning

Because the design of the bag facilitates functional rotational movement, as well as linear movements in the sagittal and frontal planes, it provides tremendous benefits for core strength and stability.

 Athletic Conditioning

The design of the bag and programming provide a system for dynamic functional conditioning in all planes of movement with an emphasis on power-endurance conditioning and strength endurance that provides specific conditioning for sports requiring high levels of strength and power output over more prolonged periods of time, such as all combat sports.

Dynamic Functional Balance
Because the exerciser is being exposed to dynamic movement patterns involving inertia, momentum, and ground reaction forces in multiple planes — using the bag challenges balance in a dynamic way resulting in greatly increased stability during athletic movement patterns.

Rhythm and Timing

Like a kettlebell the BB teaches the user to generate force in a rhythmical fashion and many movements demand specific synchronization and timing along with the ability to use momentum and acceleration. As a result, muscles are taken through all three types of muscular contractions, including extensive eccentric overload to control the movement of the bag while doing specific cyclical movement patterns such as the “spin” which is one of the signature movement patterns of BB training.

Functional Grip Training

Because of the shape of the BB’s main handles, there is a constant emphasis on grip. And, since many movement patterns involve the use of acceleration and momentum the grip is challenged extensively in a unique way compared to other training methods including the kettlebell. Since the handles come to a point and are gripped in an overhand fashion the thumb and pinky finger are squeezed together using the hypothenar and thenar muscles of the hand in addition to extensive use of virtually all other hand and forearm musculature. Also, since many of the movement patterns such as the spin involve swinging the bag in a circular movement pattern the grip is constantly challenged with the hands regripping as forces change throughout the movement pattern. This grip challenge is quite unique and within a short period of time users quickly notice a significant increase in grip strength that directly improves force production in virtually all upper body movement patterns. And, in many sports such as grappling sports, football, and climbing this grip strength is crucial for success.

The BB also provides the ideal complement to other forms of functional training, such as kettlebells, because it allows overload during functional rotational movement patterns that are not possible with any other modality.

Metabolic Conditioning and Reverse Periodization

Bag workouts are designed around higher intensity anaerobic intervals with varied work/rest ratios depending on the exerciser and goals. These workouts often involve intervals of volume/cardio exercise movements with strength movements and power movements resulting in training multiple energy systems and addressing strength, power, and endurance in a total body format. At the same time the bag teaches excellent movement skills through its extremely wide range of movements and exercises including everything that can be done with a dumbbell, barbell, and kettlebell; along with unique functional movements that cannot be done with any other modality. This type of metabolic conditioning workout results in improvement in anaerobic and aerobic capacity with extensive excess post‐exercise oxygen consumption (EPOC) generated during recovery. As such BB workouts can generate extremely high caloric expenditure both during AND after workouts making the bag an ideal choice for weight management programs.

Unlike traditional periodization models, reverse periodization supporters do not feel that you must build an “aerobic base” through prolonged high volume low intensity exercise done first followed by increasing intensity after the base has been developed. Rather, in this model initial volume is kept low while relative intensity is kept high for shorter durations and less total intervals per training session. Then over time the duration and/or total number of high intensity intervals per session are progressed. So, in this model, the focus is on progressing the volume of high intensity exercise intervals, rather than focusing on starting with high volume and low intensity and progressing intensity. While there is no one answer to which system of periodization is superior there is no question that the BB and programming are directly in line with the growing trend of higher intensity exercise programming, including many different protocols such as Tabata, Peak 8, PACE, and Metabolic Conditioning.

This also makes the BB one of the most popular training modalities for all combat sports which demands extreme anaerobic and aerobic capacity; total body strength; the ability to generate power for prolonged periods of time; dynamic balance and stability; and the absolute necessity for grip strength and endurance. For more information on the Bulgarian Bag and programming go to www.suples.com.

Contact Greg at greg@maurer3.com.

Greg Maurer

Greg Maurer

Greg has 27 years of experience in the commercial fitness industry. This includes extensive expertise with new product launches and the creation of the education and programming infrastructure to allow for the successful integration of new products and programs into existing business models including health clubs, studios, athletic training centers, rehabilitation centers, senior centers, and chiropractic centers.

As the Director of Education for Sproing Fitness he created the education platform and training systems. This includes training Master Trainers to train and certify other trainers in the use of the Sproing Trainer for personal training, athletic training, and physical therapy.

His hard work, leadership, passion, and extensive knowledge of health and fitness give him the tools to launch new technologies in the health and wellness industry.
Greg Maurer


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