According to Scandinavian folklore a troll can be a giant or a dwarf; either malicious, or pleasant.
The Scandinavians could have been describing power lifter Jeremy Subin of Redondo Beach. In fact, that's what Subin's friends know him as-- Troll .
Sitting across from Subin, it would be hard to guess his nickname. The 22-year-old Atlantic City native has a gentle face and a mussed-up head of brown hair that make him seem boyish. Subin's knowledge of the development of muscle tissue and the effect of drugs on a body makes him sound like a veteran physical therapist.
But once Subin stands up and walks to a squat rack or weight bench, is it easy to see that he is part man and all troll.
Subin was dubbed Troll by family members when he was in high school because of a hulking physique on his short body. Extending from his 5-foot, 2-inch, 165-pound frame are long, muscular arms. Hands appear small. Short, thick legs propel Subin with a waddle, his arms swinging from side to side. He walks like--a troll.
Subin is a national-class power-lifter in the 165-pound weight class. Last July Subin competed in meets in the Soviet Union with a team of American power-lifting all-stars. He earned a bronze medal at an outdoor meet in Akaban, Siberia, in front of 7,000 people, believed to be the largest crowd ever to watch a weightlifting competition. Subin's opponents weighed the same as he did, but he believes many of the Soviet lifters used performance-enhancing drugs, or steroids.
"They have a very low-protein diet," Subin said. "That may be one reason they're on drugs. All of their coaches joked about it."
The drugs are not limited to the Soviet Union. In the United States, many lifters are on the "juice" but Subin is opposed.
"I'm totally against the idea of using drugs," Subin said. "Nothing comes without hard work. If it ever came down to doing drugs to stay competitive, I'd get out of the sport."
Subin competes in drug-free competitions,
where all the athletes must take a polygraph test and give a urine sample. Positive results in either test result in disqualification.
Subin says steroids give an unfair advantage to lifters but that the risks far outweigh the benefits. Steroid users can suffer from heart disease, skin problems and irritability. Steroids are also known to cause sterility in men
Steroids are especially popular with bodybuilders, who should not be confused with power-lifters. Bodybuilders lift weights to look good, Subin feels good only when he lifts lots of weight.
Subin's personal bests in the three major lifts are not only astounding for a man of his size, they are astounding for men of all sizes. He can squat 575 pounds, bench press 355 and dead lift 515. Weight rooms are filled with legends of lifters who can move massive amounts of weight, but Subin's lifts are totally legitimate, performed to the specifications of judges in competitions.
To put the weight in perspective, Subin squats almost three-and-a-half times his own weight, bench presses a little more than twice his weight and dead lifts a little more than three times his weight. If a 250-pound football player duplicated Subin's feats, he would squat 875 pounds.
"Troll is a stud," said an observer at the Grunt and Sweat Gym in San Pedro, Subin's main lifting venue.
All that weight would stay on the bar or the platform if not for Subin's round-the-clock training schedule. Subin says a champion lifter must work hard not only in the weight room but also outside. He runs sprints on the beach to increase his explosiveness, he works out on a rowing machine to increase his cardiovascular capacity, and he executes strong will in many athletes' favorite room of the house.
"You have to be real disciplined in the kitchen," Subin said. He follows a strict diet of foods such as fish, brown rice, vegetables and chicken. Subin salads have lemon juice for dressing and potatoes must be boiled. If Subin wants to splurge on sweets, he'll have some sugar-free frozen yogurt or raisins and apples.
He does all this to compete only three times a year, with a 12-week training cycle preceding each meet. "I enjoy the meets," Subin said. "There's so much preparation for a couple of minutes of work."
Power-lifting competitions are conducted by weight class. Competitors are given three attempts at a weight in the squat, bench press and dead lift. The weight is increased until competitors are unable to lift the weight. Each competitor's total from the three lifts are added together, and the champion is determined by the highest total.
Subin's next competition is Feb. 3 and 4 in San Antonio, Tex., in the Alamo Southwest Challenge. Subin qualified for the meet with his performance last summer in the Soviet Union.
Subin is well into his training schedule for the meet, but he can't wait to get on the platform, and his fans can't wait to see him.