Weight training is hard to fit in sometimes. Besides, as a runner I don't care much for working out indoors. But there are gains to be made from regular weight training: A stronger core helps give you better form, preventing injuries. Increasing your upper body strength can help cure muscle imbalances caused by activities other than running (like bowling).
But who has the time (and money!) to go to the gym? Do you really want to pay $50 a month to get in your car, drive to the gym, workout, shower (maybe) then drive home? All that driving is a waste of time. You can run just by stepping out your front door. Why can't weight training be so simple?
Actually it can be simple and inexpensive. A home gym doesn't require a ton of space and you can make your collection of workout equipment as extensive or minimalist as you want. Here are the basics of what you need and about what it costs to buy it. So don't spend money on a gym membership that you won't use, buy equipment that will taunt you as it sits idle in your den!
You can buy no equipment at all and still get a great workout. Pilates and Yoga, while they often require instruction have no equipment to buy, so once you have the knowledge, you're working out for free. Pushups, crunches and body-weight squats are also great ways to get yourself strong without any equipment at all. Watch this video for examples:
Sometimes called a Swiss ball, a physioball is used to provide an unstable surface to workout on. Mark Verstegen's Core Performance program emphasizes the physioball as a way to strengthen your core and add a bit of extra intensity to simple exercises.
I use a ball called the Gaiam Stability Ball (now called The Firm Stability Ball ). I like it because it feels sturdy and compared to other balls it is much firmer and holds it shape well. Other brands can seem squishy and loose form no matter how well they are inflated.
The Iron Gym.
I've seen it marketed with several different names. Basically, it's a chin-up bar that won't damage your doorway. In endurance sports, performance is all about strength-to-weight ratios. And for your upperbody the gold standard of that measurement is the pull-up.
It's also advertised as a versatile piece that you can use for dips and push-ups, but mostly I use it for pull-ups. And I've used the kind that screw into your doorway, and the price of the "Iron Gym" is comparable and those other ones will definitely mess up your doorway.
Dumbbells are one of those things that you can pretty much spend as little or as much as you want on. It's also a great thing to buy piece-by-piece. My dumbbell collection (only about half are shown below) began with just a 10 and 15 pounder. Then I got a 20 and 25 and my wife brought into the marriage a set of 2, 3, and 5 pound vinyl dumbbells. Finally I bought the "olympic" set with interchangeable weights, which are a bit cumbersome and are too long to do many exercises effectively.
"Hex" bells (pieces where the weighted ends are hexagon-shaped) are often sold "by the pound" at stores like Dick's or discount stores like Dunham's and are an inexpensive way to buy individual pieces. You'll notice in the picture that the hex bells and Olympic sets have tape on the handles. I learned a trick that if you put a piece of duct tape on your dumbbells before each workout you'll slowly improve your grip your strength from having to grab a wider and wider handle - and it works!
This was the last piece that I purchased. Mostly because it wasn't until we moved into our new house that I had space for a weight bench. Mine is very simple, no moving parts (except the adjustable back angle) and no barbell rack (because I don't own a barbell).
You can buy them as simple or as complex as you want and can get a very plain one for very cheap. But I like having the adjustable back angle to do incline and decline exercises such as the bench press or "Y-T-W-L-I" (or was that "Y-T-L-W-I"?) upper back workouts.
You can also consider a medicine ball or elastic bands for stability and cable exercises. I do love my medicine ball for push-up variations, and while I'm less enthused about the elastic bands, they are the easiest way to do "cable" exercises at home.
So you could spend $50 a month at a gym, or you could spend half that every month and by the end of the year have a home gym that will do everything you would want to do at that fancy gym in an inconvenient location.
Granted, there are good reasons to go to a gym. Personal advice and training, being able to workout in a group, not having the space at home or the opportunity to meet members of the opposite sex, are all reasons you might rather go to a gym. But if your budget is tight, you may want to consider these options to workout at home instead of spending $50 a month on a gym membership.
Also, if you own workout equipment and you don't use it, it taunts you from whereever you have stashed it. Sometimes, in the middle of the night I can hear my underutilized speed rope calling me names for quitting on it after just a few weeks. (Don't worry speed rope, your turn is coming...)