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Jigsaw race mats are great for team building as well as individual mental speed and agility.
Warming up and cooling down is a vital part of exercise. It is often overlooked as being superfluous but warming up helps introduce the muscles to upcoming dynamic movements. Cooling down through stretching is an important part of a balanced exercise regime and early introduction to both warming up and cooling down is good practice. The warm-up mat is designed for this purpose.
The Step-up mat makes use of the ubiquitous gym bench which is of a good height and stable. The main muscles used are the quadriceps and the hamstrings (front and back of thighs) as well as the glutes. Core muscles are engaged to maintain stability. Step-ups are a good lower body work out. Repeating this exercise helps to build strength and stamina.
Star jumps strengthen deltoids, the large muscles at the top curve of your shoulders, and the trapezius muscles between the shoulders and neck. Star jumps also work major leg muscles, including quadriceps, hamstrings (front and back of thighs), abductors and adductors (inside and outside of thighs) and calves. The core muscles are engaged to maintain balance.
Speed bounce is a dynamic activity. The challenge can be simple so that it is simply a two-footed jump from one side to the other. However, the challenge level can be increased by introducing timed challenges and precision challenges. How many bounces in 30 seconds? How many bounces landing with accuracy onto the footprints in 30 seconds? Speed bounce uses calves, quads and hamstrings and engages the core muscles to carry out the activity. Speed bounce increases heart rate and is a good calorie burner.
Skipping is a full-body workout which uses the abdominals to stabilise the body, legs for jumping, and shoulders and arms for turning the rope. Regular skipping improves muscle tone in both the upper and lower body. Skipping helps balance and coordination and, if carried out at a moderate level, increases the heart rate and burns calories.
Plank is very effective core exercise. It should not be overdone but done in moderation and with good technique. Plank will help develop core muscles and an understanding of why core strength is important. A strong core will help performance in all sports. It will help in later life with posture which will, in turn, prevent back problems. Care must be taken to prevent sagging of the stomach and to maintain the rigid 'plank' shape. Knees can be used instead of the full plank position to reduce the difficulty level and this will reduce the risk of poor technique.
Sit-ups and crunches strengthen the rectus abdominal muscles which leads to better posture and, in turn, helps to protect the lower back. To avoid neck strain, we suggest fingertips touching the temples, or forearms crossed with hands touching opposing shoulders, rather than hands clasped behind the neck. It may be helpful for a classmate to anchor feet flat to the ground to make the pivot motion easier.
Swimmer is great for lower back and core strength, both of which are vital for good posture, flexibility and agility. It is important not to over-flex during this exercise, but to raise the opposing arm and leg only a few inches to feel the benefit. The exercise can be carried out by simply raising and lowering an arm and leg or raising and holding for a count of up to four seconds before lowering. Swimmer mat strengthens muscles on the back, the glutes, the quads and, specifically, the lower back. It is advisable to tense the core/abs at the same time so as not to put strain on the back/spine.
Tricep dip uses the gym bench which is also used for step-ups. Tricep dips on the bench are fairly simple to learn. Arms should be shoulder-width apart and hands gripping the edge of the bench for stability. The starting position is sitting on the bench with legs extended straight out and heels down. Once stable and confident, slide forward and take the body weight on the arms without the shoulders hunching. Slowly lower the body down and then back up without over-extending or straining and working at all times within comfortable limits. Keep elbows in to prevent hyper-extension of joints.
Rocket Jumps can be used as part of the warm-up routine or as a stand-alone exercise. Rocket jumps get the heart pumping and the lungs working. Rocket jumps use the explosive power of the calves and quads to propel the body upwards. The deltoids lift the arms and the core stabilises the body in the air and towards landing. Bending the knees upon landing prevents jarring of the back.
The Balance mat focuses on fine motor skills and concentration. The exercise is a progressive one where points of contact are reduced until the only point of contact is one leg. The exercise difficulty can be increased by including a blindfold.
The benefits of the hula hoop are sometimes overlooked; but carried out properly, hula hooping can provide a significant body workout. Core muscles are engaged to create the oscillating movement which also benefits the lower back, in turn increasing the range of spinal movement, strength and flexibility. Glutes, quads and hamstrings are engaged in the action as well as, to a lesser degree, the arms. The brain is engaged due to the concentration required to maintain the rhythmic and constant movement of the hoop.
Press-ups are a tough exercise to carry out well, but when done correctly work many muscles. The triceps (back of the arms) are the main arm muscles engaged, although deltoids (shoulders) get a workout too.
With the Press-up mat, the pectoral (chest) muscles are targeted and the abdominals are engaged due to the fact that the abdominals are used to keep the body straight.
It is hard to push the entire body weight up from the floor using only the arms, and so a good introduction to a press-up is to kneel and push the body up with knees on the floor. Once this is mastered, the progression is to a full press-up.
The lunge is a lower-body exercise that works several muscle groups at once. The targeted muscles include the glutes along with the hamstrings and quadriceps. The calf muscles engage at the thrust whilst the abdominal muscles and back muscles act as stabilizers.
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