How to power level Pokémon Go gyms in under an hour

It's been an eventful weekend: I traveled down to Philly for a roller derby game, wrote a bunch, and then, this afternoon, took over a Pokémon Go gym for team Mystic at the local wings joint and raised it to max level. In under an hour.

No, I don't have crazy overpowered Pokémon or secret cheats: The trick to helping your team out and keeping your Pokémon safe and sound in a high-level gym is really quite simple.

Need to know how to start playing? Check out our beginner's guide

How to train up a gym in under an hour

Before we get started: While you can do this alone, it helps a ton to bring a friend. You're also going to want two low-level Pokémon (under 200 CP); one of those creatures should be slightly higher CP, and vulnerable to the other, lower-CP Pokémon. (I used a 203CP water Pokémon and an 181CP electric Pokémon.) Why low-level Pokémon? Because they have low HP and are easy to beat. This may seem counterintuitive for a gym you're trying to hold, but trust me.

Finally, make sure you have a bunch of potions.

  1. Drive or walk to the gym you wish to take over (or, if it's already a friendly gym, train up).
  2. Defeat the opposing team (here's how) or, if it's a friendly gym, train against the already-installed Pokémon until a free slot opens up.
  3. When the slot opens, drop in your vulnerable Pokémon (I used a Starmie).

  1. If you brought a friend, have both of you attack the low-level Pokémon with a type it's vulnerable to (I used a Magnemite).
  2. After you beat the first Pokémon, tap the Run Away button and press OK to flee before your creature is knocked out by the next-highest Pokémon in the gym.

Even though you ran away from the second fight, you'll still get XP and Gym prestige for defeating that first Pokémon — and if you used a lower-CP Pokémon to take down the creature in the gym, you'll get anywhere from 400-600 prestige points per fight.

Give your Pokémon who just fought a potion to restore its HP, and you're ready to begin the process again. You can then repeat this step over and over again to power-level your gyms — you'll need about 10-20 successful fights to gain a level, depending on how high your gym has gotten. With a friend, I was able to not only take down a level four Valor gym over lunch, but raise our new Mystic gym to level 10, too.

As you raise your gym's level, you'll open spots for other players on your team to insert Pokémon; as we battled, we had four new 1800CP+ creatures pop in, including a massive 2300CP Snorlax. Your 200CP Pokémon may seem vulnerable, but it has the strength of the rest of the gym around it.


Let us know in the comments!

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.

  • I don't know if there might have been a change to the game, but when I tried, only one trainer's training would count against the prestige. Only when we timed it so that the second trainer would start fighting after the first trainer sees their "You've lost!" screen, would the result actually increase the current prestige. When both start with a prestige of e.g. 6000 shown, the first one ending would increase it to 6500 and the scond one ending would also show an increase from 6000 to 6500. This wouldn't change after a refresh, no jump to 7000.
  • Excellent article, but the last sentence is incorrect though. The lowest CP mon is always first to go when the gym loses a prestige level. Still, this strategy is solid. 9 high CP mons and one weak mon is way stronger that 4-7 medium to strong mons.
  • The article hinted that "Your 200CP Pokémon may seem vulnerable, but it has the strength of the rest of the gym around it.", but how can you drop a low-CP mon AND a 2000-CP one... unless you use 2 -accounts with the same team. Once you leave a low-CP mon then train the gym up to whatever level to leave spots for other teammates, you still cannot drop another mon while your low-CP one is there.