Steve Whelpley started coaching in 2016 after 19 continuous competitive years in the sport of rowing. He is now the Head Coach of Craftsbury's Green Racing Project, an elite training group based in Craftsbury, Vermont. Before coaching, Whelpley rowed as a member of the Green Racing Project where he enjoyed many successes at the World Championship level: 13th in the Men's Single (2013), Bronze in the Men's Quadruple Sculls (2014 World Cup III), and 8th in the Men's Quadruple Sculls (2014 World Championships). He has also coached at his alma mater, Colby College. Whelpley first started rowing in high school and has rowed competitively at the collegiate and club levels. Read more on Steve Whelpley.
When did you first hear the name Concept2 or try one of our products?
The first time I heard the name Concept2 was in the basement of my high school coach's house as he made us do a solo 2000m test one at a time with the rest of our small, humble squad watching. That coach was Gary Ahrens, and it was a Model C. It was 1998 most likely.
Do you remember your first workout on a Concept2 machine? What did you think at first? Do you remember how you felt afterwards?
My very first workout was the aforementioned 2000m erg test. We'd been rowing a couple weeks at that point, but our coaches decided it was already time for us to "understand the distance."
Which Concept2 products do you use? Why have you chosen those products? How do they enhance your training?
I use the BikeErg, the SkiErg, the DYNO, the Dynamic Rowing Erg, and... the ERG. All of the machines distill the sports down to their simplest physiological efforts on a platform of quality construction that can't be beat. It's pretty logical for a rowing coach to incorporate indoor rowing machines into a training program. Especially if your program is based in northern Vermont. At the same time, the BikeErg offers quick, tangible feedback in a cross-training form, while the SkiErg can easily expose athletes to the reciprocal closing of the hip hinge used in rowing.
How do you incorporate Concept2 equipment into your programming?
It is for both sport specific training as well as cross-training. It gets utilized for both low intensity base volume as well as high intensity interval training.
What types of athletes do you primarily work with?
I primarily work with National Team hopefuls, either for the U23 National Team or the Senior National Team in the sport of rowing.
What’s your favorite/go-to workout?
Throwing down tabata-styled intervals on any of Concept2’s products makes for an exhaustive, but satisfying effort.
We’d love to hear a quick story that involves Concept2 equipment–a motivational, funny, or learning moment.
As an athlete, I learned a lot through a hip injury that put me on the SkiErg for a time. While I was no stranger to lactic acid from both biking and rowing, I didn't know what I was in for when I found myself cross-training for an extended period of time on the SkiErg. The fact that you utilize a good portion of your body while remaining stationary on your feet makes for the production of excessive amounts of lactic acid without the concurrent shuttling of it. In other words, the first time I did intervals on a SkiErg, I walked away feeling as if my feet were swollen with bee stings from the abundant amount of lactic acid pooling in them.
What one piece of advice would you give to someone hopping on Concept2 equipment for the first time?
Limit the drag factor and find a way to make the movement more aerobic and sustainable.
What trainers or athletes do you look up to?
Rowing is a relatively niche sport. As such, I respect and revere many coaches and athletes within my sport. At the same time, I appreciate watching the work ethic of more professionally oriented sports and give athletes and their trainers kudos for when they find their way onto an erg like: Dwayne Wade, Conor McGregor, Brian Shaw, Brad Wiggins, etc.
What or who inspires you to keep going?
Athletics is one outlet into the broader picture of life. With the right lens, I think by honing it, refining it, and working at it, you learn more about yourself and the world around you.