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Bulgarian bags can be helpful but you may want alternatives. What are some other equipment options with similar benefits?
A Bulgarian bag is a type of crescent-shaped bag with a variety of handles. Some models have a fixed amount of weight. Others can be adjusted to your liking.
The main benefit of this unusually shaped piece of fitness equipment is that it is great for swinging exercises. These typically focus on shoulder muscles, rotator cuff muscles, core muscles, coordination, and a bit of balance.
Whether you don’t enjoy using Bulgarian bags, you find them too expensive, or you want an alternative for any other reason, these Bulgarian bag substitutes can offer you similar benefits.
1. Workout sandbags
There are workout sandbags that can be used as a fitness equipment alternative to Bulgarian bags. These two equipment options are very similar in many areas.
Most workout sandbags come with a variety of handles in different places. While they are still generally not as versatile as Bulgarian bags in this area, workout sandbags do allow you to do many exercises. Including a variety of swings.
An area where workout sandbags have more potential than Bulgarian bags is their maximum weight.
Out of 44 workout sandbag examples, the average maximum weight was 75.89 pounds (34.42 kg). Some even go up to 200 pounds (90.7 kg).
The weight of Bulgarian bags is typically lower. Even the heaviest models generally only go up to 84 pounds (38.10 kg).
To grow and strengthen your muscles you need enough weight to challenge them. For individuals more experienced with resistance training, Bulgarian bags may not be heavy enough. In that case, workout sandbags are a great alternative.
Additionally, good workout sandbags tend to be cheaper than Bulgarian bags of the same weight. Even if you take into account that you will have to provide the sand in workout sandbags yourself.
The next Bulgarian bag alternative is not that well known but it can still offer you powerful workouts. Macebells are basically steel workout maces or in even simpler terms a sturdy stick with a weighted ball on the end.
This sounds a bit weird and this alternative is definitely not conventional but you can use it in a variety of exercises with a focus on swinging the macebell around.
That means macebell workouts can be a great way to train your shoulder muscles, rotator cuff muscles, coordination, and balance similar to Bulgarian bag workouts.
Another benefit of macebells is that they generally last longer than Bulgarian bags. One macebell can potentially improve your workouts for many years and potentially even decades.
On top of that, macebells tend to be sturdier, compacter, easier to store, and cheaper than Bulgarian bags.
One potential downside of macebells is that they tend to come in lower weights. As you gain experience with resistance training macebells may become too easy to see a lot of muscle growth and strengthening.
Additionally, while macebells are also used in swinging exercises, the different weight distribution just does not feel the same as a Bulgarian bag. This can be an upside or downside depending on your personal preferences.
A kettlebell is a metal ball with a handle on top, usually made of cast iron or cast steel. This form makes them not only a good option as resistance in traditional exercises but also great for swinging exercises like a kettlebell swing.
This piece of equipment is not a suited Bulgarian bag substitute for a few exercises but at the same time, it is a lot more versatile that can be used in many other exercises. Partly because kettlebells can easily be held in one hand.
Some of the other benefits of kettlebells include that they also last a very long time without much reduction in value. Even after using them many times, kettlebells will have a very similar sturdiness and strength.
Additionally, you can find kettlebells at relatively heavy weights compared to Bulgarian bags. Especially if you consider that you can hold one in each hand. This is helpful for growing and strengthening your muscles.
A potential disadvantage is that kettlebells often require a slightly bigger initial investment compared to Bulgarian bags and some of the other alternatives on this list.
4. Medicine balls
A medicine ball is a weighted ball that is made from relatively soft material and doesn’t bounce that well. You could use this option in a few swinging exercises but medicine balls are a Bulgarian bag alternative with more of a different focus.
Similar to many free weights, medicine balls can be used in exercises like squats, wood chops, lunges, bicep curls, tricep extensions, core exercises, and many more.
More unique to medicine balls is that you can use them for explosive throwing exercises. These can be great for training your muscle power fitness component.
In some cases like a sideways rotational throw, you also engage your shoulder and rotator cuff muscles a nice amount. You could even get a medicine ball with handles so you can do more swinging exercises.
Besides that, medicine balls are compact to store and relatively easy to take with you.
Some downsides of medicine balls as a Bulgarian bag alternative is that they are typically more expensive per pound and come in lower weights.
Doing exercises more explosively can compensate for this to a certain extent but at some level, this may prevent you from growing and strengthening your muscles a lot with medicine balls.
5. Landmine setup
A landmine setup is an attachment that secures a barbell at the ground level. The landmine setup allows you to do more swinging-like exercises which makes this more of a Bulgarian bag alternative.
As an example, the landmine setup allows you to do landmine rotations which involves swinging it from one side to the other with the help of your oblique muscles.
Compared to Bulgarian bags, the landmine setup still loses in terms of swinging exercise options but because it is a better choice for other areas, this alternative may still be worth it.
The barbell is basically the top fitness equipment option when it comes to how much weight it can hold.
For individuals experienced with resistance training, this piece of equipment is basically a must to grow and strengthen strong leg and back muscles.
Additionally, the landmine setup lasts longer than Bulgarian bags without really losing its value.
An important downside is that the barbell, anchor, and weight plates require a higher initial investment than Bulgarian bags. This can definitely still be worth it compared to all the health benefits you can get but it is something to keep in mind.
For swinging exercises there are better Bulgarian bag alternatives on this list but the landmine setup does allow you to do a few swinging-like exercises with your barbell. Since the barbell is such an important resistance training tool this setup may align more with your fitness goals.