Specific grappling conditioning tools are few and far between. While grapplers can and have used everything in their quest for better speed, strength, and conditioning. In that sense, barbell-based weight training, kettlebells, and gymnastic-like bodyweight training seem to be the methods of choice. Yet, there is a tool out there, that was designed specifically for grapplers. To be completely honest, the original intent was for it to help wrestlers become better. However, it remains one of the best grappling specific tools in the world, if not the very best one. This tool comes from the eastern European country of Bulgaria, a cradle for some of the meanest wrestlers the world has seen. It is the Bulgarian bag, a tool that every grappler has heard of, but a few know how to use it. Today we’ll look at both the Best BJJ Bulgarian Bag for 2020, as well as some training ideas.
Training conditioning for grappling should be simple. That is the one rule you need to follow if you truly want to improve. Grappling is difficult enough on its own to have your training in overly elaborate ways when it comes to conditioning. Crossfit goes straight out of the window here, as it is too intense to be sustainable. Instead, it’s best to choose only one strength and conditioning discipline. For example, go for Olympic weightlifting only as s supplement to your training. Or just grab a pair of kettlebells and leave all other training modalities aside. The best option? Grab yourself a Bulgarian bag. Even better, get the best BJJ Bulgarian bag for guaranteed results! Our top picks for 2020 are below.
The Bulgarian Bag
Have you ever tried to swing around a Bulgarian bag? It is not something that really comes naturally to most people. It is a kind of a hybrid between a kettlebell and a sandbag. Shape-wise, it is not something people are used to seeing when it comes to training strength and conditioning. However, the Bulgarian bag is a proven method that delivers absolute beasts – just take a look at Bulgarian wrestlers.
A Bulgarian bag is a fairly new concept. It was invented in 2005 by former Olympian and wrestling coach Ivan Ivanov. In his quest to produce the best wrestlers possible, he came up with a tool that allowed his students to get in world-class shape fast. The Bulgarian bag is a crescent-shaped leather bag, filled with sand. it has strategically placed gripping handles. The bag’s design is optimal for the needs of grapplers and for convenience. After it’s initial inception in 2005, the bag became part of most “functional” fitness facilities worldwide. The only problem is that not many people really know how to train with it.
The Bulgarian bag allows grapplers to train 360-degree movements in three planes of motion. In terms of functional conditioning for grapplers, it can’t get better. On top of everything, the bag’\s specific handles mean that you’re working grip strength at all times, and from many different angles. If you want to factor in strength, you simply pick up a heavier Bulgarian bag, as they come in plenty of different weights. The original Bulgarian bag is made of goat leather, vinyl, and canvas. Inside, the sand is packed in plenty of small compartments and there’s wool padding on the inside. You can’t go wrong with a Bulgarian bag, especially if it’s from our best BJJ Bulgarian bag 2020 guide below!
The Best BJJ Bulgarian Bag
Before we go into the ins and outs of working out with a Bulgarian bag, let’s see some options. The motto of the manufacturer is that “If it doesn’t say Suples® it’s not a Bulgarian Bag”! In that sense, our best BJJ Bulgarian bag guide offers bags made by Suples. Do not worry though, as there’s plenty of variety available! With Suples, you know you’re getting the highest quality product possible. Within each bag category, you also have multiple weight options to choose from. On top of that, Staples makes 3 different types of bags and even has variations within the three main types.
The Bulgarian bag is a very versatile training tool. The specific shape means it allows you to train both the lower and upper body easily. A huge plus is that you can do your strength and conditioning virtually everywhere. A Bulgarian bag is a great tool to practice at home, or, even better, in the academy. In fact, many BJJ academies worldwide have Bulgarian bags lying around, for anyone that’s in the mood to train. All it takes is to know-how, which we’ll explain as well. Until then, let’s look at the top Bulgarian bag variations for 2020 that you can get for yourself or your academy.
This version of the Suples Bulgarian bag is based on the original one made by Ivanov. The thing about all Bulgarian bags is that they all have the same shape. The differences come in the curve of the bag, the location of the handles, and the type of material and/or grip handles. In that sense, the very first, original goatskin Bulgarian bag looked a lot like this model.
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What you get here is a black Bulgarian bag, with two yellow straps at both ends. Gripping handles include three leather grip pads on the top curve, as well as the two ticker grip surfaces on each end. The straps are in the same position as the end grips but allow for completely different grips. The bag also features the Suples sign in the middle. This Bulgarian bag is handmade and comes with a free instructional DVD. On top of that, you get a 2 year, full money back warranty. The weight you can order this bag varies from 6 lbs all the way to 84 lbs. All in all, there are 15 different weight options for this original Bulgarian bag model. Certainly a timeless one and definitely a contender for the best BJJ Bulgarian Bag you can get in 2020!
Here, we have the Bulgarian bag model you’re most likely to see worldwide. Similar to the original one, this model is the ultimate full-body training tool all grapplers are after. There’s simply no way you can go wrong with it. Even in the unlikely scenario that you buy one that’s too light for you, you’ll still get brutal conditioning and grips workout. However, different weight and size options all but eliminate this possibility.
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Coming in the Suples signature red and black colors, this Bulgarian bag is fast becoming a real essential for any grappling gym. Other colors are also available, with a total of 4 color variations on offer. Apart from the red, you get a yellow, grey, or green color in combination with the foundational black color. The bag is made out of synthetic leather that can last you a lifetime. Sizes here vary from extra small to extra large, each coming at a different weight. The strap and grip pads configuration is very similar to the original model, although this one is thinner and more compact than the original. Perfect for grapplers of all levels, with a 100% money-back warranty.
The “Strong” Bulgarian bag model is probably the best BJJ Bulgarian bag specific to grappling. It is a model that allows for modifications in grip positions, as well as one that comes with variable weight. This bag is heavier, thicker, and more curved than the basic and original models. It is the perfect bag for challenging strength training on top of lung-busting conditioning.
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The handles on the top curve are thicker than the basic ones, making them much more challenging. The two on each end also come in a thicker variation. There’s also a modified gripping surface between the body of the bag and the beginning of each grip pad on the ends. Another original feature is the ability to attach handles at this spot, allowing you better control over this heavy Bulgarian bag variation. The small curve of the bag has a zipper, which allows you to extract or add special individually packed sandbags. This allows you to manipulate the weight you’re working with. Once again, the bag is 100 % leather and comes with a free instructional DVD. The bag is available as an 11-17 lbs, 17-26 lbs, or 26-37 lbs version. Extra strong with a 100% money-back warranty lasting 2 years.
With this model, we’re going into the designer territory. While it is as functional as all others in the very least, this Bulgarian bag also looks really cool. In terms of the model, this one is very close to the basic Bulgarian bag model. In terms of design, it is unique and well worth acquiring.
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The shape and gripping areas are virtually the same as with the basic model. You get three to curve grips, two gripping handles on each end, and two straps. The sign is camouflage, allowing for a spot of individuality. Most of the design’s variations come in the color of the straps, where you have a total of four colors available – green, red, yellow, and grey. the camouflage pattern is your basic forest version camo. The sizes and weight of the bag range the same as with the basic model, from extra small to extras large. Extremely durable and made from synthetic leather.
Wrapping our best BJJ Bulgarian Bag guide for 2020 is the latest model to come out of Suples. It comes in black color with different color straps. Once again, the shape comes in a bit different from other models. In essence, this model is somewhat of a hybrid. It has some features similar to the basic model, and some that remind of the “Strong” model.
Once again, there are plenty of different weight options. The range here is from 11 to 84 lbs, with a total of a dozen variations in between. Design-wise, this bag is simple, highly variable, and perfect for a complete grappling workout. The mandatory free instructional DVD is once again a part of the package. The material for this hand-made bag is once again genuine PVC leather. The innovative model means you get the best of both versions (basic and strong models) so that you can train everything with a bag that’s lighter and easier to handle. Comes with a hook on the inside curve that offers the ability to hang the bag on a wall.
Sample Bulgarian Bag Workout For BJJ
As you can see, choosing the best BJJ Bulgarian bag has to be an individual thing. While you can train with most bags, there are versions that offer the development of very specific grappling qualities. If overall strength and conditioning is your goal, you also have plenty of options to choose from. there are even designer models for those that like to stand out. On that note, let’s see how a sample Bulgarian bag workout for BJJ should look like:
This workout is designed to work as a modified circuit. The 5 exercises are divided into a superset and a giant set that works in a circuit fashion. The result is a very challenging workout that covers everything. You train strength, conditioning, grips, grappling specific movement, and lasts less than 30 minutes. As you’ll see, all exercises are very grappling specific and have a direct carryover to Jiu-Jitsu.
Part 1 – Superset
- Arm Throws To The Side – Complete 10 repetitions on each side, starting to the left. For this exercise, hold the bag at both terminal-end handles, and swing it up and over your shoulder while lunging slightly. Repeat to the other side.
- Swing, Snatch And Overhead Squat – Once again, the goal is 10 reps. With this exercise, you grip the Bulgarian bag the same as previously. The goal is to do the same motion as with a kettlebell swing, but continue the movement into a snatch at the top. When the bag is over your head, go for an overhead squat to complete the motion. You can skip the overhead squat if you have mobility issues or it is too challenging.
- Rest 1 minute after the superset and go straight into the Giant set.
Part 2 – Giant Set
- Bulgarian Bag Pushups – A pushup is a pushup, but it becomes a lot more challenging when you have to do 10 with a Bulgarian bag on your waist. Simply place the bag over your waist and do perfect form pushups before moving on to the next exercise.
- Turkish get-up sit up – This exercise is actually half a Turkish get up. What you need to do is do a bench press, followed by a perfect sit up while holding the bag over your head. Both your arms have to stay locked straight throughout the motion. When you get back to the ground, lower the bag to your chest. Once again, 10 reps are what you’re gunning for.
- Bulgarian Bag Spins – The final exercise requires 10 repetitions on each side. It is predominantly a core movement but does upright. While standing, grip the bag at the ends or use the straps. Stand with feet shoulder-width apart and swing the bag around your head. Once you start, keep going for the full 10 reps without rest. Repeat on the other side to complete the circuit.
- Rest for 2 minutes and repeat the whole circuit again, starting with the superset. The goal is to get 3 to 5 total repetitions of the circuit.