Low Stress Training (LST)
A highly successful way of training your marijuana plants to grow shorter, bushier and produce a higher yield is known as LST. LST stands for Low Stress Training and is thought to be a better alternative to topping, FIM'ing, or supercropping.
Many growers are hesitant to actually cut parts of their perfectly healthy plants off, and this is fine, because topping, FIM’ing and super cropping are all high-stress methods of training. Low Stress Training does not slow down growth rate, and you don’t lose your main cola, as with topping.
To LST a marijuana plant, the best time to do it is when it has grown between 3 and 5 sets of nodes, although it can be done at any time (even during flowering) depending on how thick the stem is. The process is done by bending the top of the plant down, between 90 and 180 degrees (without snapping the inner cell walls) and tying it down so that it remains in that shape. You can do this either with metal hooks or drill holes in your medium and tie it to that. You will also want a counter tie at the base of the stem, tied to the medium or something similar. This creates much more light exposure for the lower branches and future bud sites. It also causes the next tallest colas to be “tricked” into thinking that they are the top cola.
Unlike topping/FIM’ing, there is no limit to how many times you can LST a plant. Once you tie down the top cola, all the shoots that are now pointing sideways will turn upright, reaching for the light (usually between 8 and 12 hours) and thus maximizing your yield. The top that you tied down will also keep growing, and you can keep training it as it grows, to corkscrew around the medium, go in an “S” shape, or nearly an shape that fits your specific needs/desires. Since this is a low stress technique, that plant hardly notices and doesn’t have to spend crucial energy repairing damage done by cutting away tops.
You should leave the ties/stakes in place, although the plant will likely stay true to form after 7 - 14 days of being tied down. Using this method, you will be maximizing your yield, keeping your plant(s) short and bushy, and not creating undue stress for these precious ladies.