How to beat a gym of high-level Pokémon in Pokémon Go!

If you've struggled to take down a rival gym thanks to its seemingly endless supply of high-powered Vaporeon and Snorlax, don't despair: By smartly organizing your Pokémon, you can defeat even the toughest opponents.

Know thy enemy's weaknesses and vulnerabilities

Every creature in Pokémon Go has a type — be it Normal, Fire, Water, Electric, Grass, Ice, Fighting, Poison, Ground, Flying, Psychic, Bug, Rock, Ghost, Dragon, Steel, or Fairy — and two attacks that may either be the same type, or they may differ. My top-tier Vaporeon, for example, is a Water type with two Water abilities — Water Gun and Aqua Tail — while my Lapras is a Water/Ice type with Ice and Dragon abilities.

Here's the thing: Those types aren't just cool tidbits about the Pokémon. They're balanced against the other creatures in the game, giving you strengths against certain Pokémon — and super weaknesses against others.

As such, if you're scoping out a gym, you're going to want to balance your fighting Pokémon team against the defending crew.

Here's a quick list of each element type, and what opposing types of Pokémon are best-suited to take them down:

  • Normal: Fighting
  • Fire: Water, Ground, Rock
  • Water: Electric, Grass
  • Electric: Ground
  • Grass: Fire, Ice, Poison, Flying, Bug
  • Ice: Fire, Fighting, Rock, Steel
  • Fighting: Flying, Psychic, Fairy
  • Poison: Ground, Psychic
  • Ground: Water, Grass, Ice
  • Flying: Electric, Ice, Rock
  • Psychic: Bug, Ghost
  • Bug: Fire, Flying, Rock
  • Rock: Water, Grass, Fighting, Ground, Steel
  • Ghost: Ghost
  • Dragon: Ice, Dragon, Fairy
  • Steel: Fire, Fighting, Ground
  • Fairy: Poison, Steel

If you don't know what type of Pokémon you're facing, you can always check your Pokédex: Tap on the Poké Ball icon in the bottom center of your screen, then select the Pokédex icon and the creature of note.

If you haven't caught the Pokémon but still want information about it, you can also check Pokémon's official online Pokédex for types and weaknesses.

Once you know the defender Pokémon's weaknesses, you can assemble a team to beat them.

How to pick Pokémon to defeat high-level opponents

Knowing your opponent's weakness is the first and perhaps biggest tool in your tool belt when building a team. If I'm battling a Vaporeon, for instance, I want to make sure I'm selecting a roster of Electric and Grass Pokémon.

But type is only the first factor: I need to make sure my attacking Pokémon have high enough HP to defend against a high-powered creature. A level 22 Vaporeon has around 160 - 180 HP and uses attacks that can drain up to 90 HP at a time; as such, I need to make sure my creatures can handle some rough-and-tumble action.

Even if you don't have high-HP Pokémon that also target your opponent's weaknesses, see if any of your powerful creatures have individual attacks that fall into those categories.

If you're out of luck and don't have any high-HP Pokémon with opponent weaknesses, however, I suggest starting the fight off with your highest-HP creature; fill the rest of your attacking roster with Pokémon that target your opponent's type, and use them once your strongest Pokémon faints. (Ideally, they'll also have gotten the defending creature down to 50 percent or less HP by that point, making your weaker creatures more effective.)

The best way to farm XP at gyms

Even if you know you're never going to beat that 2500 Dragonite atop the level nine gym near your local coffee shop, you can still use type weaknesses to get some good trainer XP from the encounter.

To get XP and lower your opposing gym's prestige, you need to defeat just one of the Pokémon at the gym — and if you do it with a creature that has lower CP than the one you just defeated, you'll get a bonus.

In other words, if you're battling an Electric-type Pokémon with 600 CP, taking it out with a 800 CP Vaporeon might only net you 50 XP; attack it with a 500 CP Geodude, however, and your win bonus jumps up to 250 XP.

As such, using the Pokémon weakness chart, you can often win battles against creatures hypothetically hundreds of CP more powerful than yours — and improve your trainer level like crazy while doing it. You may get wiped out in the second gym battle, but it doesn't matter: You only need one win to make it all worth it.


Having trouble taking over gyms or farming XP from them? Let us know below.

Serenity Caldwell

Serenity was formerly the Managing Editor at iMore, and now works for Apple. She's been talking, writing about, and tinkering with Apple products since she was old enough to double-click. In her spare time, she sketches, sings, and in her secret superhero life, plays roller derby. Follow her on Twitter @settern.