I suffered from some nasty lower back/sciatic nerve pain during the last months. Both my primary care physician as well as the orthopedic specialist thought that there isn't anything particular wrong with my back (like a disc injury or such), but that it was the unspecific kind of back pain due to weak muscles, bad posture, being too sedentary etc. and that it ought to improve with exercise.

So I had about a dozen physical therapy sessions, also took a class for back pain exercises, and thankfully my pain got indeed better, albeit with ups and downs. But of course I should keep doing the exercises to remain pain free, yet the ultimate goal of "I want the pain to not come back" alone isn't great to sustain motivation for me. It's too general and doesn't really offer any accomplishments to work toward and such.

Because the exercises I learned are basically a mix of bodyweight strength exercises, balance exercises and stretches, I figure that I should be able to use the strength exercises to measure progress somehow for motivation. I enjoy tracking things, but I'm not sure how to go about it with exercising.

I mean, I have noticed some progress with exercises becoming easier, so I can manage more repetitions, and sometimes when there were different versions I can now even do the more difficult exercise than just the easiest kind (though overall my fitness level is still pretty bad, like for example I can't manage any push-ups, not even the easier kind where you are on your knees rather than toes, but am still at the level where you push against a wall). But I'd like to properly track things and have a couple of realistic, concrete goals so I see improvements.

I tried looking at the bodyweight strength training books in my library to get an idea for how this is usually done, but I have to admit that the books I found were all rather off-putting. Like the ones aimed at women all seemed to be a horrible assemblage of body image and weight loss issues, and the ones aimed more towards men had a slightly different set of body image and weight loss issues that were almost as awful and often mixed that with some kind of, I guess, weird power fantasies? I'm sure there must be decent strength training books out there, but my skimming led me to think that it is one those genres you best not venture into without recs. So I mostly backed away from consulting those.

Basically I'm looking for advice with which kind of exercises or exercise progressions (like with the different kinds of push-ups getting more difficult) are good to see your progress and motivate yourself, when you don't track increased weight like with lifting stuff.
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