Hands on with the new Skulpt Chisel

img_0540.jpgMany people train with the specific goal of weight loss. But your weight is a very coarse measure. It gives no indication of how much of your body weight comes from bones (which are good to have), muscle (which is good to have), water (another useful component) and fat.

What we usually mean when we discuss weight loss is a reduction in body fat. However, the trusty old bathroom scales don’t give a great indication.

That’s where the Skulpt Chisel fits in. It measure the composition of your body quickly and easily.

What’s in the box?

The Skulpt Chisel comes with

  • A charging cradle
  • A USB charging cable
  • A small spray bottle for water
  • The Skulp Chisel

Starting out

Once the Skulpt Chisel is unpacked, it’s a good idea to charge it for a little while before getting started. That’s a good idea as it will give you time to install the free Skulpt app. – it supports iOS 8.3 or later and Android 4.3 or later. You’ll also need to create an account with Skulpt.

The app can be set to send you regular alerts to remind you to exercise, eat under a specific calorie count and other information.

With the Skulpt Chisel charged up, I launched the app which prompted me to pair the Skulpt with my iPhone (I tested with an iPhone 6s) over Bluetooth.

Using the Skulpt Chisel

The edge of the Skulpt Chisel is equipped with a lighting system that changes colour depending on what you’re doing.

  • Pulsing blue: Bluetooth pairing mode.
  • Solid green: On/Standby Mode
  • Solid red: Ready to measure
  • Pulsing green: Measuring
  • Personalized colour: Connected

The front of the Skulpt Chisel doesn’t have a display – other than the Skulpt insignia, it’s as plain as plain can be. It’s close relative, the Skulpt Aim has a small display but, based on my use of both devices, that’s a nice to have rather than essential feature.

imageTo measure the composition of a body part, you turn the Skulpt Chisel on,  moisten the sensors – that’s where the little spray bottle comes in – place it on the body part being measured and tell the app you’re measuring. Within a couple of seconds, the Skulpt Chisel tells you it’s done and you can move on to the next body part.

To get an estimate of your percentage body fat, you need only measure three parts, biceps, quadriceps and abdominals. The Skulpt app can use that, with an algorithm to give a measure of your body fat percentage. However, you can measure forearms, chest and shoulders as well although that’s not necessary for a body fat percentage estimate.

In my case, it correlated very closely with my Fitbit Scales and a recent scan I had done with InBody. That gives me confidence that the Skulpt Chisel is quite accurate.

Although the app is focused on measuring personal progress, there’s a guest mode that can be used by personal trainers, for example, who want to track their clients.

The science

 Electrical Impedance Myography (EIM) is the Skulpt Chisel’s secret sauce. The back of the device has an array of 12 sensors that send a weak electrical impulse through the muscle area being tested and measure how long that impulse takes to move through the tissue.

Electricity flows through different tissue types at different rates. By measuring that time and applying some fancy maths, or algorithms, it’s possible to calculate the composition of tissue.

As well as measuring your body fat, the Skulpt Chisel measures your muscle quality. Skulpt says “muscle quality is the force a muscle produces relative to its size”. Previously, I’ve written about differnt muscle fibres. We have three types of muscle fibres: slow, fast and very fast muscle fibres.  And they all contribute to strength and endurance differently. But as our bodies store fat, they start to deposit it in places that are less than helpful. For example, within out muscles.

Muscle quality is a measure of how much fat is stored within muscles.

Buy it or leave it?

The Skulpt Chisel retails for US$99.

That’s not cheap but if you’re serious about measuring your progress then it can be a useful tool. I can imagine bodybuilders and figure models using it to monitor individual body parts.

Personal trainers will find it useful but it’s value for recreational trainers will depend on how serious they are.

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