The Anatomy Of A Bulgarian Bag


Gripping The Main Handles

The main handles of the Bulgarian bag which are tapered by design are used for gripping during lifting and swinging movements, the user is forced to squeeze hard to hold onto the bag building a tremendous amount of grip strength.

When holding onto the main handles the trick for a strong grip is to effectively use the thumb crease, this is the crease that joins the main handles to the bag and gives you the ideal spot to place the thumb when gripping the main handles.

The straps are used primarily to assist the grip whilst holding onto the main handles, never attempt to swing the bag by the straps. They are used by looping them round the wrists, twisting them around the main handle and then grabbing hold of the handle. They are also colour coded to quickly identify different weight bags whilst training. Remember, if you do decide to use the straps you’ll be reducing the potential grip strength benefits which is a key benefit of Bulgarian bag training.

Bulgarian bag microphone grip

Building A Powerful Grip

There Are 3 Types Of Grip Strength

  1. Crushing.
  2. Pinching.
  3. Support.

The Bulgarian bag is one of the few training tools that will train all 3 types of grip strength.

Grip strength is one of the most overlooked aspects of many strength training programs and a weak grip will put you at a severe disadvantage in many sports as well as in every day life.


Use a crush grip when gripping the main handles, squeeze as tight as you can to stop the bag from slipping through the fingers whist swinging. An MMA fighter or Rugby player will need this type of grip strength.


You can use a pinch grip (or crush grip) when gripping the side handles and top handle. Pinch grip is grip strength through the fingers with fine motor control and is the most overlooked grip strength of the 3, a rock climber would need this type of strength.


The Bulgarian bag is excellent for building support strength which is the ability to grip something for long periods of time, i.e carrying bags of heavy shopping.

Bulgarian Bag Holding Positions

All these different Bulgarian bag holding positions have very unique benefits so try incorporating as many of them into your training program as possible.

  • Rack
  • Zercher
  • Back
  • Shoulder
  • Bear Hug
  • Overhead
  • Headlock


The rack will be one of the most prominent holding positions you’ll use with the Bulgarian bag. Grab the Bulgarian bag by the main handles, resting the bag high on your chest whilst keeping your spine neutral. Roll your elbows forward and under the Bulgarian bag so that your elbows are pointing forwards and down. With the load held in front of the body the weight will try to pull you forwards so actively engage the core to stay upright. Enure your shoulders stay packed down and retracted to maintain a good posture throughout.


The Zercher hold will really challenge the core and arms. Place the Bulgarian bag in the cradle of your arms whist keeping your core braced and spine neutral. With the Bulgarian bag placed at the front of the body the load will want to pull you forward, ensure you maintain an upright position with your shoulders packed down and retracted.


The Bulgarian bag is the perfect shape for holding in the back position with the bag wrapping nicely around the neck. Place the Bulgarian bag across the back of the shoulders, just like you would do when performing a barbell back squat. Ensure the Bulgarian bag is not pressing forward on the neck and keep your chest up proud, shoulder blades retracted, core tight and spine neutral.


Place the Bulgarian bag on one shoulder, place one hand on top to stabilize the load and keep your head straight and spine neutral. Because the Bulgarian bag is unilaterally loaded the shoulder hold will really challenge the core to keep the spine in a vertical position.

Bear Hug

The bear hug holding position is excellent for developing arm gripping strength. Hold the Bulgarian bag vertically in front of the body by wrapping your arms tightly around the Bulgarian bag. Keep your head straight, spine neutral, core tight and shoulders packed down.


The overhead hold is an extremely challenging position for the core muscles and great for building strong durable shoulders. Hold the Bulgarian bag overhead with your arms fully locked out, shoulders packed down and core braced tight.


The headlock hold is another great position for developing arm gripping strength whilst unilaterally loading the core. Wrap one arm underneath the Bulgarian bag on the side of your hip, if you’re using a really heavy Bulgarian bag you might want to use your other arm for support. Keep your core braced tight, shoulders packed down, chest proud and your shoulder blades retracted.