05/31/2012 07:45 am ET Updated Jul 31, 2012

The Bicep Curl: A Total-Body Workout?

So you hit the gym after work, and as soon as you walk in the door your mind is racing. You only have one hour to cram in your entire workout and don't know how you can possibly fit everything in, from cardio and weight lifting to resistance training and ab exercises.

You start by heading over to the weights and begin with a standing bicep curl. After a few reps you put the weight down and move on to the lat pull down, fearful that you won't be hitting all of the machines and putting in enough repetitions to achieve a "full-body workout."

Wrong. Let's take a step back. If you think a standing bicep curl is only working your bicep, think again. That is one of the biggest misconceptions about working out that many people are unaware of. The body uses more than 50 different muscles just to stay standing.

Once you decide to put a weight in your hand, whether a barbell or dumbbell, everything changes, and your body exerts even more energy. Isolation of any muscle, in this case the bicep, is a total-body activity. In order to do this exercise properly with super strict-form, it will require you to use almost every single muscle in the body. Remember, just to stay standing requires more 50 different muscles, and now we have added weight to the equation.

Doing a bicep curl with "super-strict form" means standing with a slight bend in your knees and driving your heels into the ground with your head and chest up. You need to keep your abdominals engaged during the entire set in order to maintain proper form and work your abdominal muscles. As you keep your shoulders and elbows back you will begin to contract your triceps, and as you curl the bar up it will contract your biceps. Be sure to maintain the squeeze the whole way up and down the curl. It is better to do one perfect rep than 30 incorrectly.

A simple bicep curl will work your abs, gluts, triceps, shoulders and countless other muscles in the body. Like the bicep curl, all exercises require the whole body to work when performed correctly. The next time you are in a rush at the gym and can't decide where to begin, keep this in mind and remember that you don't need to cram in reps on every single machine to work your entire body.

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