Specialists, people who have a unique knowledge of how to deal with, help, or teach a special population. We have lots of specialists. Medical residents, and most other graduates, professional and academic, become uniquely trained to be specialists. Many years ago somebody decided women were a special population and therefore needed a completely different training regimen than men did. So instead of lifting barbells women lift 5 pound pink dumbbells and hangout on cardio machines reading magazines and watching television for long periods of time (45 min of boredom). This doesn't make sense at all. Women are not a special population. They make up about half of the entire "human population!"
So why are women to train differently than men if they are indeed not a special population? Someone might say that women have about one tenth of the testosterone of men so they can't, they just can't lift weights. Not heavy ones anyway. Well if that is the case how did Lindsay Taylor throw 222 pounds over her head? Lower testosterone levels does not mean "can't" it means "not as much" and "not as fast" never will it ever mean "can't."
If we concede that women can lift heavy weights we should then ask why don't they do it as much? I think there are many reasons but an important one is the idea that if women lift heavy weights they will look "bulky." In the previous paragraph lower testosterone levels were discussed. Lower testosterone should give women more courage to lift heavy weights because they should know the really "bulky" body builders, men and women, are the ones who use steroids (testosterone and its derivatives). An example of an incredibly strong yet non-bulky weight lifter is Pyrros Dimas. This man won the 3 gold medals and 1 bronze medal in the four olympic games he competed in. He has also won many other international championships in weightlifting. In this video he trains with some heavy weights. At the end of the video he tosses a bar loaded to 440 pounds like its a wooden broomstick. So my point is if a man this strong looks like this (normal looking guy)
than we can assume that a woman with 1/10 the testosterone of a normal man cannot get "bulky," it is just not possible to do without using/abusing anabolic steroids. If you still don't believe me please check out this video of some women weightlifters.
A great example of a non bulky woman weightlifter is Eva Twardokens. Eva competed in downhill skiing events for many years. Since her competitive days she has remained fit and lifts heavy weights. In my opinion performing the olympic lifts and doing heavy squats has not made Eva "bulky" at all.
Other benefits of lifting heavy weights include developing larger and stronger musculature. Big muscles require more calories to sustain than small weak ones do, during work and rest. Therefore, strength training actually helps burn more fat than traditional "cardio" (walking/jogging or waving colorful dumbbells around to hip hop beats). If body composition is a major fitness goal or motivation for you, strength training is the best way to get to the body you want. Period.
I think more women are picking heavy things up and throwing them around more than before. This is changing due to great fitness organizations like CrossFit and a local one here in Iowa called ROC FIT. Be part of the change and leave the pink dumbbells alone and starting squatting under a bar. You can wear pink workout clothes if they suit you, perfectly acceptable.