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Try it: the Bulgarian bag

1. It taxes the core.

The bag’s odd, curved shape makes it lever-like. Think of the mace. Most of its load sits outside of your grip at the top of a long staff. As you move that weight farther from your body, your core needs to work harder to maintain control.

In the same way, if you hold the Bulgarian bag by its ends and swing it away from you (as you would in the squat variation below), that forward momentum forces increased engagement. “The main muscles that will keep the bag stable during those quick movements are the lats and abs,” DiPoalo says.

2. It’s versatile.

This piece of equipment has three handle options: You can either grasp it at its thickest portion (minimizing the lever effects), by the straps (exaggerating the lever effects), or at both ends (with the lever effects falling somewhere in the middle). Not only does this challenge your grip in different ways, but it also makes the bag versatile.

“The handles on the front are great for controlled, resistance-based movements while gripping the bag by its straps allows you to swing it during explosive exercises like skaters,” DiPoalo says.

3. It trains mobility in all planes.

This is perhaps the bag's most important benefit. “The ability to move with resistance in every direction is at the core of building a strong, functional body,”  DiPoalo says.

Try it:

The first two dual-sets in the routine he created below include a hip-dominant exercise (the squat and deadlift) and a knee-dominant one (the lunge variations) for balanced lower-body strength. You’ll end with a core-cardio combo to increase your post-workout calorie burn.

With minimal rest, this circuit-style workout can act as your cardio routine for the day or as a finisher to your regular strength session. Do it once or twice a week for optimal results using a load that allows you to maintain proper form for every rep. You could either use the bag, which comes in weights ranging from 6 to 84 pounds, or a ViPR for similar benefits, DiPoalo adds.

Dual-set 1

Perform 3 rounds of the combo below, resting 45 to 60 seconds between rounds.

1A. Forward lunge to overhead press

Stand with feet together, holding the Bulgarian bag by its front handles with the ends on your shoulders. Lunge forward with the right leg, resting your left knee on the ground. At the bottom of the lunge, press the bag overhead and lower it back to your shoulders. Return to start for one rep. Complete 12 reps on this side, switch sides and repeat, then move to exercise 1B.

1B. High pull to squat

Stand with feet wider than hips, holding each end of a Bulgarian bag in front of your hips. Using your arms for momentum, swing the bag up so it rests on your forearms, then lower into a squat. Return to start for one rep. Complete 15 reps.

Dual-set 2

Perform 3 rounds of the combo below, resting 45 to 60 seconds between rounds.

2A. Overhead press to single-leg deadlift

Stand with feet together, holding the Bulgarian bag by its front handles with the ends on your shoulders. Raise your left knee, then press the bag overhead. Simultaneously lower the bag to your shoulders, kick your left leg behind you, and hinge at the hips until your torso and leg are parallel to the ground. Return to start for one rep. Complete 12 reps on this side, switch sides and repeat, then move to exercise 2B.

2B. Halo + lateral lunge

Stand with feet together, holding a Bulgarian bag at shoulder width in front of your chest, with its ends hovering above your shoulders. Perform a halo going clockwise around your head, then lower into a lateral lunge with your right leg. Return to start for one rep. Complete 12 reps on this side, then switch sides and repeat.

Core finisher:

Dead bug pullover

Lie on your back with knees bent at 90 degrees, shins parallel to the ground, holding a Bulgarian bag by its thickest point with arms extended directly above you. Simultaneously lower the bag to the ground behind your head and extend the left leg until it’s parallel to and hovering above the ground. Return to start, then repeat with the right leg for one rep. Complete 3 sets of 12 reps, taking minimal rest between sets.