What’s the Difference Between Sandbags and Bulgarian Bags?
These two “bags” may seem similar at first, but they don’t share a lot in common when it comes to training. Find out why.
Sand is what makes the sandbag distinct. The greatest benefit of the sandbag is the fact that it is uncooperative when lifting. This “movement” is the main part of the sandbag’s benefit, partly because the weight and partly because of the types of exercises you can (or can’t) perform with the shifting sand.
The shifting requires effort to stabilize. Compared to conventional weight training this produces a unique challenge. The result is that you build strength and conditional reactions that can be applied in the real world.
Picking up a sandbag is like picking up a wiggling child. You have to be careful that the fella doesn’t wiggle out of your control.
Sandbags reflect the movements that actually occur in real life settings. I have seen and used different sandbags but only those with a certain amount of movement will force you to make adjustments. I personally use and recommend Brute Force.
The Bulgarian Bag
The Bulgarian Bag is totally different. There is no movement or shifting of weight inside the bag. The Bulgarian Bag movements and exercises are more precise and can therefore be done with a faster action.
One of the major benefits of the Bulgarian Bag is how it dramatically challenges your grip. It does wonders to develop the muscles of the hands and forearms. There are unique exercises that can only be done with the Bulgarian Bag, and these movements force a core response from the body (somewhat similar to that of sandbags but not exactly the same).
The spin exercise is an extremely dynamic full-body movement, is one of the core exercises of Bulgarian Bag training. The “spin” is what the swing is to kettlebell training. It is basic but extremely dynamic. It requires you to spin the bag around your head and body for repetitions.
Ideally you’ll be moving your elbows up and down as you spin the bag around your head over each shoulder. The spin motion involves counteracting dynamic forces and requires constant stabilizing throughout the core. Your core must be engaged during the spin or the force of the bag will pull you out of position, a sure indication that your form is off.
The Bulgarian Bag can also be used to perform a variety of exercises like cleans, snatches, squats and various swings. It is relatively low weight (18lbs, 26lbs, or 37lbs) so strength is not the device’s main focus.
Functional strength and full body stamina are its key benefits. It is a great tool to develop endurance with a combination of specific movements unique to the Bulgarian Bag.