The Atlas wristband is an activity tracker aimed at athletes interested in free and body weight exercises.
When it appeared on Indiegogo around 18 months ago, it looked like the bees knees to me. I had just started weightlifting using the Stronglifts routine and imagined I might also dabble with the Olympic lifts one day.
Frankly the Atlas wristband seemed to be the perfect next gadget for my wrist. Never again would I need to tax my memory counting to five (Stronglifts is a 5×5 rep and set sequence) and I could throw out a manic crossfit style wod in the garden with every move captured for future analysis.
I ordered it at great expense and then the wait began. It was over a year from order to delivery so I was very lucky that I was still dabbling with weightlifting – not many of my fads last that long. Even then I had to wait a bit longer as my original device was dead on arrival.
When a working model did arrive I rushed outside full of glee for a Stronglifts session.
It was a complete flop.
I had set up a custom stronglifts routine with barbell squat, barbell bench press and deadlift included. I thought it might help the Atlas wristband to detect the correct exercise if it only had 3 to choose from. It seems not.
While it did manage to detect my the squat, it couldn’t count them accurately and refused pointedly to recognise my chest press.
I tried a few more times and had more success using the freestyle list of exercises rather than a fixed routine. It seems that the more exercises it has to choose from the better. It’s not that the Atlas device gets more accurate but it is more likely to register some form of exercise that can at least be corrected to the right form, either on the wristband or afterwards within the app.
If you can’t get the Atlas to register at least one of the exercises you can’t manually add it at a later point. I actually took to writing down my routine so I could alter the recordings after the event.
That was the last straw really, I had a perfectly good app for recording my Stronglifts routine and I didn’t see the benefit of creating yet another logging chore. The Atlas wristband went into the bottom drawer to await a firmware update or two.
Today I dragged it out again to see if the device was now working in a fit for purpose fashion.
Here are my squats, or are they actually deadlifts?
That still strikes me as a big fail.
It recognised the next set but only counted 4 of my 5 reps.
If you look at Amazon they have a mixed bag of reviews but on the whole people seem to be impressed. Maybe I’m just doing it wrong but as far as I’m concerned this device needs to go back into the bottom drawer or better still, eBay.
It’s acknowledged that the device detects exercises based on the movement of the wristband through space. It attempts to recognise the 3D path from a library of movements performed to a set form. You are supposed to watch the video and amend your form to match and it could be that my rendition of a squat or a bench or a deadlift just bears little resemblance to good form. I would prefer the device to cut me a little slack and recognise or learn what my squat looks like and perhaps with a bit more development time Atlas will do just this. There is the suggestion that in the future it will be able to learn new exercises so it ought to be able to learn old ones too.
It would be a pretty useful feature to tell me that my squats are off so that I can work on improving them, better at least than telling me they are deadlifts….
I just don’t think I have the patience to wait for many more updates and may have to go back to counting myself.
Overview of the Atlas wristband
- One of the few activity monitors directed at weightlifters
- Wrist based heart rate monitoring
- A varied list of exercises
- Potential to give useful trend information
- Potential to improve form
- Atlas appear to be actively engaged in the improvement and development of the device
- Atlas can’t count
- Atlas doesn’t consistently recognise exercises
- Without the two points above the stats such as speed are pointless
- The heartrate monitoring is a bit hit and miss
- Its ugly and bulky and can’t be worn with wrist straps
- Its expensive
- Its impossible to read in daylight