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How to take a gym and level it up in Pokemon Go!

Gyms play an integral part of the Pokemon Go experience. We'll teach you how gyms work, how to take one, and how to level it up!

Published onOctober 2, 2016

One of the central mechanics in Pokemon Go is the ability to take and control Gyms. Once you pick a team, you’ll immediately start competing with the other two teams for the Gyms in your general area. There are two ways to interact with Gyms. The first is to capture it from an opposing team. The second is to level it up to make it harder for opposing players to take down. We’ll cover how to take a Gym and level it up in Pokemon Go!

What is a Gym in Pokemon Go?

Gyms are strategically located places around the world that various teams can capture and control. They are generally points of interest in your community. Popular Gym locations include churches, landmarks, monuments, schools, and similar places of note. There doesn’t seem to be much of a rhyme or reason to the choices that Niantic made when it comes to placement because we’ve seen churches with two gyms and schools with none. However, the defining characteristic is that they are all places that are available to the general public during most hours of the day and the vast majority of them are accessible without being required to enter any buildings.

Pokemon Go Gym

How does a gym work?

When a team owns a Gym, they can place Pokemon onto that Gym. Here are some quick facts about Pokemon Go gyms:

  • Each player can only place one Pokemon in a Gym at a time. However, you can place a Pokemon on an unlimited number of Gyms. If you have 15 Pokemon, you could conceivably place a different one on a Gym and control up to 15 Gyms.
  • Each Gym has a certain amount of “Prestige”. You earn Prestige by fighting your own team’s Gym and it will lose Prestige when it is defeated by trainers from other teams.
  • The maximum number of Prestige Points that a Gym can have is 50,000. The maximum level it can attain is level 10.
  • Each time a Gym gains a level, players on that team can place one additional Pokemon on it. At max level, your team can place up to 10 Pokemon on that Gym.
  • Every 21 hours, you can go into the Shop and earn some free Poke Coins. You’ll get 10 Poke Coins and 500 Stardust for every Gym that you control. If you “trade in” while you have Pokemon on five Gyms, you’ll receive 50 Poke Coins and 2500 Stardust. You can find the option to do this in the Shop (where you buy Poke Coins) at the top right corner of the screen.
  • It is far easier taking a Gym in groups than by yourself. Especially if the Gym has a high level.
  • Finally, and perhaps the most obvious, you’ll need to actually join a team in order to engage with Gyms. The three options are, of course, Team Valor, Team Mystic, and Team Instinct. You learn more about the ethical ramifications of your team decision by clicking here.

Now that we have a baseline for how Gyms work, let’s talk more about leveling them up and taking them down!

Pokemon Go Pokemon Team

How to fight an opposing Gym in Pokemon Go

Okay, you’ve got a team of Pokemon and there is a Gym in your sights. Here is how you take down a Gym and make it yours:

  1. Tap on the Gym to open its main interface. Here, you’ll be able to scroll through the Pokemon on the Gym to see what you’re up against. You’ll also be able to see how many Prestige Points a Gym has. Be sure to take note of how much Prestige it has!
  2. Once you’re ready to battle, click the icon on the bottom right corner. A screen will pop up showing you your team of Pokemon. If you need to, put your favorite six Pokemon in there. When  you’re ready to start, click the Go button.
  3. You will now be thrown into battle with the Pokemon in the Gym. The mechanics are insanely easy. However, if you need a primer, here’s a tutorial on how to battle your Pokemon!
  4. If you win your battle with the first Pokemon, you’ll immediately begin engagement with the second one, then the third, etc until all of the Pokemon have been defeated or until all of your Pokemon are knocked out.
  5. Once you have won, you will see the victory screen. You’ll earn some experience points and you’ll also see how much Prestige you’e taken from that Gym. If you’ve taken enough, the Gym will lose a level and you’ll have to fight fewer Pokemon next time.
  6. Go to your items and use Revives and Potions to heal up your Pokemon!

You have beaten all of the Pokemon on the Gym! You are a master of Pokemon Go and the world is your oyster, right? Not so fast!

How to actually take down a Gym in Pokemon Go

Like we mentioned earlier, every Gym has a certain amount of Prestige. When you defeat a Gym, you don’t actually overtake it. Instead, you’ll remove a portion of the Gym’s Prestige. Thus, in order to take down the Gym, you’ll have to fight it repeatedly to remove all of its Prestige. On lower level Gyms, this requires only a couple of battles. On maxed out Gyms, this could take all day. Make sure you’re prepared with plenty of time, recovery items, and bring friends along to help. Your friends can attack Gyms at the same time as you! Here are some quick tips on taking down Gyms in Pokemon Go:

  • You will only take down the Gym once its Prestige reaches zero. This may take several attempts. Note, you don’t overtake the Gym. You will simply remove the other team from it. You will have to re-enter the Gym and place your Pokemon there in order to capture it for your team.
  • A Gym earns levels after attaining a certain amount of Prestige. For instance, a level four Gym requires 8000 Prestige. If you knock a Gym below 8000 Prestige while battling it, it will return to level three. If it has four Pokemon, the weakest one of them will be forcibly removed and the Gym will only have three Pokemon left!
  • Thus, as you whittle away the Prestige, the Gym will slowly get easier and easier to conquer.

Pokemon Go Gym

How to level up a Gym in Pokemon Go

Leveling up a Gym is essential in its defense. At its core, all you’re really doing is attacking your own Gym. The difference is when you win, you’ll be adding Prestige to your Gym instead of removing it. Here is a short step-by-step guide on how to level up a Gym in Pokemon Go:

  1. Follow steps 1-6 outlined above. Except this time, instead of attacking an opponent gym, attack your own instead.
  2. You will get far less Prestige for winning against your own Gym than your opponents will get for defeating it. Because of this, you will need to attack your Gym far more times to level it up than your opponents will when they defeat it.
  3. How much Prestige you earn your own Gym depends on what level your Pokemon are, how many Pokemon you defeat on the Gym, and what their power is. If you take down a 1200CP Flareon with an 800CP Vaporeon, you will earn more Prestige than if someone took it down with a 1500CP Vaporeon. You can exploit this mechanic and level up Gyms wicked fast.
  4. A Gym’s level has no bearing on the Pokemon inside of it. A Pokemon on a level three Gym is just as powerful as it would be on a level 10 Gym. The only perk to leveling up a Gym is the ability to add more Pokemon to its ranks.
  5. Currently, you can only take one Pokemon with you when you level up a Gym. In a future update, you should be able to bring a full team. When that happens, training on Gyms and taking down Gyms should work pretty much exactly the same way.

A few additional fun facts about Pokemon Go Gyms

There are a few other things you should probably know before heading out to take down your nearest Gym:

  • When your Pokemon is assigned to a Gym, you will be unable to use it. It cannot battle, you cannot level it up or evolve it, and you cannot heal it. Your Pokemon will be returned to you if it is removed from the Gym. At that point, you will need to heal it before you can use it for battle again.
  • You will know if your Pokemon is on a Gym by checking your Pokemon team. Pokemon that are at Gyms will have little icons next to their picture. When they are returned to you, that little icon will disappear. This is a quick and easy way to determine if your Gym still stands. If the icon is still there, the Gym still belongs to you. If not, then hop in the car and prepare to go take it back!
  • All Gyms are ordered from the weakest Pokemon to the strongest automatically. It doesn’t matter who puts their Pokemon down in what order, the Gym always rearranges it to go from weakest to strongest.
  • “Cashing in” your Gyms every evening in the Shop is the only way to earn Poke Coins aside from paying real money. At least for right now.

Pokemon Go Gyms are, by far, the most complex mechanics in the game. The Prestige, the battles, the nuance, etc has lent itself to tons of strategies, tips, tricks, and more. You’ll likely learn most of this while you battle gyms and learn plenty along your path to taking all the Gyms in your area. If you have any good tips, tricks, or stories about Gyms in Pokemon Go, tell us about it in the comments!

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