Listen to Stitcher

Coach Mike Rutherford did his “Level One” before there was a “Level One.” The group was so small, Greg Glassman introduced each person. When Greg reached Rutherford, he reportedly said, “He is my Coach. I’ve been learning and copying what Rut does. It is essential to CrossFit now. Our athletes are getting so much better.He is my Coach.” Two attendees of the same seminar (Michael Halbfish and Jeff Martin) confirmed that quote.

 The owner of Bootcamp Fitness KC (CrossFit Kansas City), Rut created the Max Effort Black Box (MEBB) system, and later DBWOD.
As an early advocate of shorter-duration metabolic challenges, Rutherford pulled from many sources, including Glassman. Some of those sources:

Joe Kenn‘s “Tier System”. Kenn was a high school, collegiate and pro Strength and Conditioning coach. He was influenced by Westside, and Rut claims he “harvested” the Max Effort piece of Kenn’s work.

BiggerFasterStronger. Advocates of the 5/3/1 method, as well as a 3-day-per-week training cycle including a full-body lift, an upper-body and lower-body day. BFS is also really big on the trap bar deadlift because of its ease to teach.

Joel Jameson’s BioForce HRV system. “That tool has really exposed a lot about the role of stress outside the gym.”

The original MEBB (3 days/week):

Monday:Total body move, followed by a METCON. Strength work includes motion through every joint, like weightlifting or thrusters.

Tuesday: Rest

Wednesday: Lower body move, like squatting or trap bar deadlifting, followed by METCON

Thursday: Rest

Friday: Upper body move, like dipping or pressing, followed by METCON.

The loading would follow a 5-3-1 pattern for each strength move.

METCON : bias toward shorter workouts with heavier weights.

“I think you’ll get 80% of your returns on this model,” Rut said. “Stick with the stuff that gives you the big returns: pulling stuff off the floor. Squatting, pressing, ground-based movements. Those have always paid us back.”

He followed with: “Coming up with weird moves doesn’t make you a better coach.”

Rutherford was also a founder of, and believes most gyms don’t do enough unilateral (single-limb) exercise programming.

“Single-arm dumbbell pressing is something everyone can incorporate. It might be the best upper-body move someone can do.”

It’s hard to overload without the bilateral movements, though, so most of the strength work in MEBB includes a barbell.

The DBWOD program has been shut down. “We could not make it work selling T-shirts and dumbbells,” Rut wrote on the DBWOD blog. “At this point now, it’s part of my fitness conduit offering.”

His “Fitness Conduit” is basically the programming from his own practice. But he’s given us eight fantastic dumbbell workouts as a gift! Missed it last week? Here’s the link.

You can buy his Max Effort Black Box book here.


Coach Rut recommends reading “Tripping Over the Truth: The Return of the Metabolic Theory of Cancer Illuminates a New and Hopeful Path to a Cure” target=”_blank”>Tripping Over the Truth” by Travis Christofferson. The book is based on the metabolic theory of cancer, as well as the politics and finances of chemotherapy. I find the book complements the Mulvaney interview on this podcast.

Rut also likes Sean Manseau’s book, “By the Numbers” target=”_blank”>By The Numbers.” “I feel like everyone can learn something in the first 8 pages that will make their coaching better.”

Mike can be reached through Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter, as well as

In “Critical Questions,” I talk about automating tasks that aren’t worth your time. Last week’s big 8-Day Giveaway ended on a massive note, with a free email automation from Almost 300 gyms signed up to get the gift (thanks again, Matt and Jake!) and I see “Couch to CrossFit” posts everywhere. Like many, I thought I’d just take the free gift and roll with it…and then realized just how MUCH content they were giving away. So I signed up to have them automate the program for me because my time is worth more than the $99 they were charging.

How do you figure out the value of your time? I provide a simple calculation, and then links to other resources that can optimize your time, like 321GoProject’s Momentum Program.

What will you DO with the time you save? Start by downloading this (it’s free):

10-Hour CEO

Recorded on December 4, 2015.