In the past, women have typically steered clear of the weight training area of the gym for fear of bulking up. Luckily, it seems that women's attitudes towards lifting weights are shifting.

More women now understand that because of hormonal differences between sexes, it requires an extensive body building routine for most females to put on real significant mass. Women simply don't have enough testosterone.

But more importantly, women are embracing the numerous health benefits tied to regular weight training. Not only is strength training beneficial, it's essential for maintaining healthy bone mass and normal physical function. These benefits are of particular interest to women, who are challenged with greater loses in bone mass and muscle strength as they get older.

Weight training builds bone density and reduces the risk of osteoporosis.

Women naturally lose bone density with age. Because of sharp decreases in estrogen during menopause, bone density decreases, leaving women susceptible to osteoporosis. Osteoporosis is a condition that causes bones to become weak and brittle, thus susceptible to fractures even from the mildest of stresses. According to the National Osteoporosis Foundation, an estimated 10 million Americans have osteoporosis, and about eight million (80 percent) are women. Strength training, however, can prevent bone loss and even help build new bone. Lifting weights places stress onto bones, which stimulates bone growth and reduces the risk of osteoporosis. The most susceptible area to bone loss is at the hip, so exercises like squats and lunges can help women limit the loss of bone they'll eventually experience.

Building lean muscle boosts metabolism and thereby lowers body fat.

While cardio exercise is often where women turn when looking to lose weight, strength training is actually more ideal. Regular weight training workouts builds lean muscle and the building and maintaining of this new muscle tissue requires energy. This energy is provided by calories. So, as you put on lean tissue, you'll cause your body to burn more calories throughout all the times of the day. You'll be supporting your fat loss efforts, even when you're at rest.

Strength training increases muscular strength, making women more physically capable.

With consistent strength training, women become physically stronger. Even though women in general have less muscle mass, studies have shown that they can develop strength at the same rate as men. With gains in strength, daily tasks will become far easier and women become less dependent on others. Coinciding with muscle strength increases is the building of connective tissue. This increases joint stability, which make women less susceptible to injury.

Regular weight training lower stress and build confidence.

Studies have shown that strength training improves confidence and self-esteem in women. With greater strength, women don't have to ask for assistance in certain tasks, which makes them feel more competent. Strength training has also shown to improve sleep, boost energy levels, and slow down aging. As women become stronger and more lean and reduce body fat, they build self-respect and a sense of self-worth. Feeling "in control" can help reduce the risk of depression or feeling hopeless. Nowadays, women are juggling so many things that stress is nearly inevitable. However, studies have also shown that high-intensity weight training is effective at reducing anxiety.

Weight training boosts heart health by reducing cholesterol and lowering blood pressure.

Heart disease is the leading cause of death for women. However, several studies have shown that high-intensity, short rest weight training workouts are effective at improving cardiovascular fitness. The American Heart Association actually recommends that people to participate in weight training to reduce their heart disease risk. Studies have shown that high-intensity, low-rest weight training workouts are effective at improving cardiovascular fitness. Other studies suggest that weight training increases blood flow to active muscles and thereby could be considered a companion to aerobic training for those looking to build heart health. In addition, the natural reduction in blood pressure that occurs after exercise is greater after strength training than cardiovascular sessions. Be sure to always visit your doctor before starting an exercise routine if you have heart disease. Some patients shouldn't lift weights because of the temporary increase in blood pressure that occurs during training.