Robinson training at Michael Johnson performance

By: Keith Ryan Cartwright February 05, 2014@ 10:45:00 AM

Pistol Robinson has never learned the fundamentals of weight training until recently. Photo by Andy Watson /

FORT WORTH, Texas ― Robinson is the last professional bull rider in what is expected to be a growing list of Built Ford Tough Series-caliber riders to begin training at Michael Johnson Performance, which is located in McKinney, Texas.

Robinson joins Jory Markiss and Matt Triplett, who both began training with Olympic gold medalist Michael Johnson and his elite team led by Lance Walker.

Robinson began training this week after going through a four-hour long evaluation process last week.

“I really didn’t know what to expect,” said Robinson, who – during his initial visit with Walker – witnessed some of the top college football players training for the upcoming NFL combine. “I was like, ‘Oh yeah, this is the real deal.’ This isn’t your run-of-the-mill 24 Hour Fitness or Planet Fitness.”

“They were going through the type of workouts you would expect a professional athlete to go through all the time.”

For the past 18 months Robinson has been training alone.

However, even he used the term “training” loosely.

Although he was motivated enough to do it every day, he had never trained before and was unsure of what to do. He watched others and asked questions, as well as emulating and mimicking their routines and regimens, without truly understanding the reason behind doing what he was doing.

Pistol Robinson rides Black & Blue for 87.75 points during the second round of the 2014 Sacramento Invitational. Photo by Andy Watson /

“I’ve never had a trainer,” Robinson said. “I’ve never had somebody tell me this is what I need to do to make this better or this is what I need to do to make this better.”

According to Robinson, he had been doing the best he could by reading up online and watching YouTube videos.

Despite being a professional athlete since he was 18, last week he went from amateur training to being among some of the most elite athletes in the world under Johnson’s guidance and the watchful eye of Walker, who is working closely with Robinson.

Robinson had never trained prior to his recovery and rehab after sustaining two broken legs in the opening BFTS event of the 2012 season in New York.

He missed an entire year and returned last season.

Upon his return to bull riding, he focused on regaining his timing by competing at Touring Pro Division events and self-training at a local gym.

Aside from college and pro football players, Robinson now finds himself among golfers, soccer players, Olympic athletes and others.

Walker said they’ve made a conscious effort in the past few years to reach out to athletes in sports they haven’t previously worked with at Michael Johnson Performance. They recently began working with bobsled participants and ballet dancers before reaching out to the PBR.

“I know the potential of something like this,” Robinson said, “that it could elevate somebody’s game.

“They’ve never done anything with bull riders, but they’ve worked with every kind of athlete—the top athlete of every kind of sport out there. Why wouldn’t they do bull riding? And why wouldn’t they make us better?”

Robinson wanted to work with Johnson and Walker as soon as he read about it last month when Jory Markiss and Matt Triplett first started. It took until last week for them to schedule his initial evaluation and he began training in earnest this week.

He was there Monday and Tuesday and returned today for a third session before traveling to Anaheim, Calif., on Thursday, for this week’s BFTS event. Robinson intends to train with Walker any time he’s in Texas and not competing at a bull riding event.

Robinson said he liked the fact that Walker instinctively understood that bull riding had nothing to with being big and strong.

In fact, weighing only 135 pounds, Robinson is among the smallest, more wire-framed riders among the Top 35 in the world standings (and overpowering a bull that weighs in upwards of 2,000 pounds is not an option).

Bull riding is a combination of reaction, coordination, reflex, core strength and flexibility.

Although he didn’t know what to expect a week ago, Robinson said he now expects to become a better athlete and in turn that will make him a better bull rider.

He felt better about himself training on his own and now with the help of proven experts, he said his confidence “is through the roof.”

“I can’t hold back the excitement,” Robinson said.

He added, “This isn’t training. This is sports science.”

Follow Keith Ryan Cartwright on Twitter @PBR_KRC.


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