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Have a Ball With Exercise Ball Workouts

By Jodi Helmer
WebMD Magazine - Feature

You'll often find exercise balls tucked into a corner at the gym, but few people know how to use them in a workout. Personal trainer Julie Schoen thinks the oversized balls are key tools for working up a sweat and building muscle.

"Exercise balls can literally work every muscle in your body and help tone the legs and thighs," she says. Do these moves four times a week to help build long, lean muscles.

Wall Ball Squat

"This is my go-to move for improving the shape of my glutes and thighs," Schoen says.

1. Stand with your back facing a wall and feet slightly wider than hip-width apart.

2. Place the exercise ball between your back and the wall, leaning back slightly to keep the ball elevated.

3. As you lean against the ball, bend your knees and lower yourself into a squat (as if you're going to sit on a chair behind you). Make sure your knees don't jut out past your toes.

4. Return to the starting position. The ball should stay pressed between the wall and your body.

5. Do three sets of 10 repetitions.

Decline Balance Push-Up

This move works the triceps, shoulders, chest, and abs. It's a favorite for Schoen because it has all of the benefits of a regular push-up and more.

1. Start at the top of a push-up position with hands shoulder-width apart, arms straight, and feet on top of the exercise ball. 

2. Keeping your gaze toward the floor, bend your elbows to lower your chest toward the ground. Tighten your core to keep your body straight from head to toe.

3. Press back up to the starting position to finish one rep. If you need to rest between reps, keep your feet on the ball and bend your knees.

4. Do three sets of 10 reps.

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