High Stress Training: What NOT to Do

As cannabis cultivation continues to evolve, growers are exploring new methods to increase yields and improve plant health. One such method, high stress training, involves physically manipulating the plant to encourage strong lateral growth and maximize bud development. However, with great training comes great responsibility, and there are common mistakes that growers need to avoid in order to successfully execute this technique. In this article, we’ll explore the benefits of high stress training, when to avoid it, common mistakes to steer clear of, and alternative techniques that can yield positive results.

What is High Stress Training?


What Is High Stress Training?
As a cannabis cultivator, you’re likely seeking ways to boost your crop’s yield and overall health. High Stress Training, commonly abbreviated as HST, is one technique that growers utilize to achieve these goals. HST involves strategically introducing stress and damage to the plant during the vegetative stage, encouraging it to redirect its energy towards producing bigger, stronger buds. However, while HST can be a powerful tool in any grower’s arsenal, it’s critical to understand the technique and its potential pitfalls before attempting HST on your own plants.

Benefits of High Stress Training

High Stress Training (HST) is a popular cannabis cultivation technique that involves stressing the plants during their vegetative stage, resulting in increased cola production and higher yields. Here are some of the benefits of using HST:

  • Increased Yield: By applying stress to the plant, HST stimulates an increase in bud and cola production, which can ultimately result in higher yields.
  • Better Light Penetration: When HST is applied correctly, it can allow for better light penetration into the lower parts of the plant. This results in increased bud sites and overall better plant growth.
  • Enhanced Potency: HST can increase the potency of the buds by improving trichome production and overall resin production in the plant.
  • Improved Plant Health: When done properly, HST can also help to increase plant health and vigor by pruning and strengthening the structure of the plant.
  • Creative Expression: HST can be a fun and creative way for growers to experiment with plant training techniques and optimize the growth of their plants.

It’s important to note that while HST can be beneficial for many growers, it’s not a one-size-fits-all technique. Some strains may not respond well to HST, and it’s important to know when to avoid it to prevent any damage or harm to the plants.

When to Avoid High Stress Training

Avoiding High Stress Training

While high stress training can be beneficial for cannabis plants under the right circumstances, there are times when it should be avoided altogether. Here are a few situations in which high stress training is not recommended:

  • Seedlings: Seedlings are too delicate to withstand the stress of high stress training. Instead, allow them to grow and establish a healthy root system before attempting any type of training.
  • Sick or Stressed Plants: If a plant is already struggling with disease, pests, or other stressors, introducing additional stress through high stress training can do more harm than good. Address any health issues before attempting any type of training.
  • Auto-flowering Strains: Auto-flowering strains have a set life cycle and do not respond well to high stress training. Instead, focus on low stress training techniques to maximize yield.
  • Limited Space: If you’re growing in a small space or have limited headroom, high stress training methods such as topping or FIMing may not be practical. Consider using a ScrOG method or low stress training techniques instead.

By knowing when to avoid high stress training, you can help ensure that your cannabis plants stay healthy and strong throughout their growth cycle. Remember to always monitor your plants closely and adjust your training methods as necessary to optimize yield and promote overall plant health.

Common Mistakes to Avoid

Common Mistakes To Avoid
As a cannabis cultivator, it’s easy to get excited about the potential benefits of high stress training for your plants. However, it’s important to approach this technique with caution and avoid common mistakes that could harm your crop. In this section, we’ll explore some of the most common missteps made during high stress training, so that you can steer clear of these pitfalls and achieve the best possible results for your plants. Whether you’re a seasoned pro or just starting out, these tips will help you optimize your training practices and increase your yields.

Mistake #1: Applying too Much Stress at Once

Applying too much stress to cannabis plants at once is a common mistake that novice growers often make. It is important to understand that cannabis plants can only handle so much stress at a time, and overdoing it can cause irreparable damage to the plant.

The consequences of applying too much stress at once include:

  • Stunting plant growth
  • Damaging the plant’s overall health
  • Reducing the yield of the plant
  • Delaying the flowering process
  • In some cases, killing the plant

How to avoid this mistake:

  • Apply stress gradually: It is important to start with small amounts of stress and gradually increase it over time. This will give the plant a chance to adjust and build up its tolerance to stress.
  • Monitor the plant’s response: It is important to pay attention to how the plant responds to stress. If you notice any signs of stress, such as wilting or discoloration of leaves, reduce the amount of stress being applied.
  • Know the limits: Every cannabis strain has its limits when it comes to stress tolerance, so it is important to research the strain you are growing and know how much stress it can handle.

Applying too much stress at once is a mistake that can be easily avoided by gradually applying stress, monitoring the plant’s response, and knowing the limits of the strain being grown.

Mistake #2: Training Plants too Late

One of the most common mistakes to avoid when performing high stress training on cannabis plants is training them too late. Many growers make the mistake of waiting too long, which can lead to several negative consequences. Here are some things to keep in mind:

  • The optimal time to start high stress training is during the vegetative stage. Waiting until the plant has entered the flowering stage can cause a lot of stress on the plant, which can affect the overall yield and quality of the buds.
  • Training too late can also cause the plants to become stunted. Late training can cause the plant to grow in a way that is not ideal for optimal growth and yield, resulting in shorter plants with fewer bud sites. This can lead to a decrease in overall yield and quality.
  • Another consequence of late training is increased risk of damage to the plant. When high stress training techniques are applied too late, there is a higher chance of causing damage to the plant because the stems and branches are harder and less malleable. This can cause the plant to become weaker and more susceptible to disease and pests.

To avoid this mistake, it is important to start high stress training during the vegetative stage, allowing enough time for the plant to recover before entering the flowering stage. This will result in a stronger, healthier plant with more potential for a higher yield and better-quality buds.

Mistake #3: Inadequate Recovery Time

Inadequate recovery time after High Stress Training is another common mistake that can seriously harm your cannabis plants. When you apply stress to your plants, they need time to recover and heal before going through additional stress. Failing to give them sufficient time to recover can lead to stunted growth, reduced yields, and even death.

To avoid this mistake, it’s important to understand the recovery process of your plants. After being exposed to stress, your plants will need to focus on repairing the damage caused by the stress. This will involve diverting energy away from growth and towards healing. During this time, the plant will not be able to handle additional stress until it has recovered fully.

Typically, you should give your plants at least a few days to recover after each high stress training session. This will allow them to fully heal and regain their strength before being subjected to further stress. It’s important to closely monitor your plants during this recovery period, as any signs of stress or deterioration could indicate an underlying issue that needs to be addressed.

In addition to providing adequate recovery time, you can also help promote healing by providing your plants with proper nutrition and care. This includes ensuring they have access to sufficient water, light, and nutrients, as well as monitoring for any signs of pests or disease.

Adequate recovery time is an essential component of successful high stress training. By taking the time to properly care for and monitor your plants during this period, you can help ensure they recover fully and continue to thrive.

Mistake #4: Not Monitoring Plant Health

When performing high stress training on cannabis plants, it’s important to monitor the plants’ health regularly. Neglecting to do so can result in serious issues that can hinder growth and yield potential. Here are some key mistakes to avoid when it comes to monitoring plant health:

  • Not Checking for Signs of Stress: High stress training techniques involve applying stress to the plant to encourage new growth. However, if the stress becomes too much, it can lead to damage or even death of the plant. This is why it’s crucial to constantly check for signs of stress, such as wilting, yellowing leaves, or stunted growth.
  • Ignoring Pests and Diseases: Pests and diseases can quickly spread and cause harm to the plant. Failure to monitor for pests and diseases can result in irreversible damage to the plant or even total crop loss. It’s important to regularly check for signs of infestation, such as discolored leaves, webbing, or pests on the plant.
  • Overlooking Nutrient Deficiencies: Cannabis plants require specific nutrients to thrive. If these nutrients are lacking, it can impact growth and yield potential. It’s important to monitor the plants for signs of nutrient deficiencies, such as yellowing leaves or a lack of new growth. Addressing nutrient deficiencies as soon as possible can prevent long-term damage to the plant.
  • Disregarding Environmental Conditions: Environmental factors, such as temperature and humidity, can impact the health and growth of cannabis plants. Too much or too little of either can cause stress on the plant. It’s important to monitor environmental conditions and make necessary adjustments to maintain optimal growing conditions.

To avoid these mistakes, it’s important to regularly check on the plant’s health and make necessary adjustments. This can involve addressing nutrient deficiencies, adjusting environmental conditions, and taking preventative measures to avoid pests and diseases. By being diligent in monitoring plant health, growers can ensure that their cannabis plants thrive and reach their full potential.

Mistake #5: Doing Nothing at All

One common mistake that growers make when it comes to high stress training is doing nothing at all. While it may seem easier to simply let the plants grow naturally, neglecting high stress training can ultimately result in an inferior yield.

Lack of Control: By not utilizing high stress training techniques, growers are relinquishing control over the plant’s growth pattern. As a result, the plant may not be utilizing all of its available resources and may not be filling out as fully as it could.

Lower Yield: Neglecting high stress training can also result in a lower yield overall. By not shaping the plant, growers may miss out on valuable bud sites and also inhibit the plant from getting the optimal amount of light.

Overcompensating: Additionally, by not actively training the plants, they may overcompensate during the flowering phase and grow too tall or wide for the grow space. This can lead to overcrowding, shading, and ultimately, a less productive yield.

To avoid this mistake, make sure to properly plan out your high stress training techniques and identify the best way to shape the plant for optimal growth. Taking the time to train your cannabis plants can ultimately lead to a better yield and a higher-quality final product.

Alternative Training Techniques

If high stress training seems too intense for your cannabis plants, don’t worry. There are still ways to shape and train your plants to optimize their growth without overwhelming them. In this section, we’ll discuss several alternative techniques that can be used instead of high stress training. These methods will allow you to achieve similar results while avoiding the potential risks of high stress training. So let’s dive into the world of low stress training, the ScrOG method, and topping and FIMing to help your cannabis plants thrive.

Low Stress Training

One alternative to high stress training is low stress training. Instead of causing physical damage to the cannabis plant, low stress training involves gently bending and tying down the branches to create a wider canopy. This technique allows for more light to reach the lower branches, leading to more even growth and higher yields.

Benefits of Low Stress Training

  • Less risk of damaging the plant
  • Can be done throughout the plant’s life cycle
  • Creates a more even canopy for improved light penetration
  • Can increase overall plant yield

One common low stress training technique is the “tie-down” method. To do this, gently bend the top of the plant down and away from the center, then secure it in place using a soft tie, such as plant tape or twist ties. Repeat this process with other branches, being careful not to damage the plant.

Another low stress training technique is called “LST” or “low stress training”. To perform LST, tie down the main stem of the plant so that it is horizontally parallel to the soil. This will cause the side branches to grow upward and create a more even canopy.

Low stress training is a gentle technique that can improve the yield and quality of cannabis plants without the risk of damaging them. It is a great alternative to high stress training for those who are new to cannabis cultivation or those who are looking for a milder approach to plant training.

ScrOG Method

One alternative technique to high stress training is the ScrOG method. This technique involves the use of a screen or net, which is placed above the plants during their vegetative stage.

The ScrOG method has several benefits over high stress training. Not only is it less stressful for the plants, but it also leads to higher yields and more consistent results. This technique is great for growers who want to maximize their yields without risking the health of their plants.

To use the ScrOG method, growers should first top their plants when they are young, usually around two weeks into the vegetative stage. Once the plants have started to grow new branches at the topping point, they can be placed under the screen or net.

Growers should use the net to train the plants to grow horizontally, spreading out the branches and encouraging even growth across the canopy. This allows more light to penetrate the lower branches, resulting in a more even distribution of light and ultimately, higher yields.

Throughout the vegetative stage, growers should continue to train their plants under the net, ensuring that all branches have equal access to light. Once the plants have reached their desired height, they can be moved into the flowering stage.

The ScrOG method is a great alternative to high stress training for growers who are looking for a less stressful way to maximize their yields. By training plants to grow horizontally, the ScrOG method results in more even growth and higher yields with less risk to plant health.

Topping and FIMing

One alternative to high stress training is topping and FIMing, which involves trimming off the top portion of the plant’s main stem or primary shoot. Although both techniques are similar, there are important differences between them that you should know before attempting.

Topping involves cutting off the top of the main stem which stimulates the growth of two new main shoots from the branches below it. This method allows for greater control over the plant’s shape and overall size.

FIMing, on the other hand, is a more precise technique that involves trimming only the top growth of the main stem which may turn into two or four new branches depending on how it’s done. Unlike topping, FIMing can cause less stress to the plant and typically requires less recovery time afterward.

Both topping and FIMing should be done during the vegetative stage when the plant is still developing rather than during the flowering stage. This is because the growth opportunities and recovery time for the plant are greater in the vegetative stage.

Benefits of Topping and FIMing

Some of the benefits of using topping and FIMing include a greater distribution of light and nutrients throughout the plant, which can lead to increased yields, as well as the ability to control the overall shape and size of the plant. Additionally, both techniques can be used to prevent a plant from growing too tall or too leggy.

How to Top and FIM a Cannabis Plant

Before attempting either of these techniques, make sure to have a clean and sharp pair of scissors or pruning shears. It’s also important to make sure the plant is in good health and to avoid topping or FIMing multiple times in a single growing season.

Here’s a step-by-step guide for topping and FIMing a cannabis plant:


1. Identify the main stem of the plant that you want to top.
2. Use a pair of sharp scissors or pruning shears to cut off the top of the main stem. Aim to cut just above the second or third set of leaves to promote new growth.
3. Wait for the plant to recover and new growth to appear, which should take approximately one to two weeks.
4. Once the new growth appears, you can continue to train the plant as desired.


1. Identify the main stem of the plant that you want to trim.
2. Use a pair of sharp scissors or pruning shears to cut off approximately 80% of the new growth at the top of the stem. Be sure to avoid cutting the main stem itself.
3. Wait for the plant to recover and new growth to appear, which should take approximately one to two weeks.
4. Once the new growth appears, you can continue to train the plant as desired.

Topping and FIMing are popular techniques used to enhance the growth of cannabis plants. As with any training method, it’s essential to be prudent and to avoid stressing the plant too much, which can lead to negative consequences.


In conclusion, high stress training can be a highly effective method for increasing cannabis plant yields and overall health. However, it is important to approach this technique with caution and avoid common mistakes that can harm the plant. Remember that plants require adequate recovery time, and that too much stress too quickly can be detrimental to their growth.

Additionally, it is vital to monitor the health and progress of the plants to ensure that they are responding well to the training. Lack of monitoring can lead to further mistakes and prevent plants from reaching their full potential.

If you are unsure about high stress training, or if your plants are not suitable for this technique, there are alternative methods available, such as low stress training, ScrOG, and topping/FIMing. These techniques can also be highly beneficial for increasing yields and promoting plant health.

In summary, when performed correctly, high stress training can be a valuable tool for cannabis growers. By understanding the potential pitfalls and taking necessary precautions, you can ensure that your plants thrive and produce a bountiful harvest.

Frequently Asked Questions

How often can high stress training be done?

High stress training can be done once per growing cycle to avoid damage to the plant.

What is the safest way to perform high stress training?

The safest way to perform high stress training is to start with low amounts of stress and slowly increase it over time.

What should be done if a plant shows signs of stress during training?

If a plant shows signs of stress during training, it should be given a break until it has recovered.

Can high stress training be done on all cannabis strains?

Yes, high stress training can be done on all cannabis strains, but some respond better than others.

How long should a recovery period be after high stress training?

A recovery period of at least one week is recommended after high stress training.

Can high stress training increase the potency of cannabis buds?

Yes, high stress training can increase the potency of cannabis buds by redirecting energy to the main colas.

Is it better to train indoor or outdoor cannabis plants?

It is better to train indoor cannabis plants as they have limited space to grow and respond well to training techniques.

What is the best time to start training cannabis plants?

The best time to start training cannabis plants is during the vegetative stage when they are actively growing.

Do all training techniques require high stress?

No, there are low stress training techniques such as LST, ScrOG, and topping that do not require high stress.

Can training techniques affect the yield of cannabis plants?

Yes, training techniques can increase the yield of cannabis plants by promoting the growth of multiple colas.


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