‘GTA Online’

How To Power Level GTA V’s Stats

GTA V, in my opinion, is a masterpiece. I think this is the first truly great game to come out of Rockstar’s studio for a long time; it’s unprecedented in terms of depth, replayability, detail, ambition of world and storytelling. Indeed, regarding depth, there are a plethora of gameplay mechanics in action at any one point when the player is in game. Perhaps you’re on mission, and the mechanics in play are dialogue and driving. Perhaps you’re free roaming around San Andreas and the mechanics are the sublime Character Switch, and shooting, or buying clothes.

But no matter what you’re doing in the game, one mechanic is consistently present. The player-character Stat system. In GTA V, as you all will know, there are  seven stats for all three main characters; Michael, Franklin, Trevor. All three, and your multiplayer character, have these stats: Stamina, Shooting, Strength, Stealth, Flying, Driving, Lung Capacity, and Special.

Unfortunately, not only do all three protags begin with unique levels in each stat, but some stats are definitely harder to level than others. Shooting for example, increases to max almost without effort as you play the story missions and the Strangers and Freaks side missions. Stamina increases quickly too, as you tend to spend your spare time sprinting everywhere- and are forced to do stamina-buffing sports as parts of side missions.

As I said, some stats are incredibly tough to improve, even when you’ve nearly finished the game. So here’s a “cheat sheet” (maybe “tip sheet” is more appropriate) on the best ways to max out the tougher stats in GTAV.

Multiplayer Stats seem to be a totally different ball game, I imagine skills level up by the same means, but it takes ages to do so. Can anyone confirm this in the comments?

The toughest stats in my opinion are: Stealth, Lung Capacity, Driving, and Strength.

The Easy Stats 


As said above, basically by doing story missions and just playing the game, you will quite quickly level up your shooting skill to max. I had all three characters at, or near, max, by halfway through the story (probably 35/69 missions in). If you really want to power-level it, go to an Ammunation shooting range with the character. The target-shooting minigame is surprisingly good.

Only a couple of tips are needed for the Ammunation Shooting Range:

– Don’t do all the Pistol Challenges until you have the AP Pistol unlocked. On the 3rd Pistol challenge, you need to use the AP Pistol’s automatic fire, and walk left to right (or right to left) with the target, shooting constantly, trigger always pressed. That way your aim stays steady and every shot hits the target, so your combo goes up.

– In fact, if a challenge seems too tough in general- just quit it if you don’t have the third weapon yet. This means you’ll have to get at least Silver in challenges 1 or 2 to unlock it. Some of the challenges can only be done when you have the best weapon option.

– In GTA Online, I recommend finding a Survival mission, and farming the heck out of it. These unlock after level 10, I believe (anyone can keep me right in the comments section.) Shoot hundreds of dudes. Get that level up. It took me about an hour or two of straight grinding on the Industrial Factory Survival Mission to get half a Shooting level. This will be a long one.

– Apparently also in GTA V (including Online), shooting vehicles gives you stat improvements. So standing on top of a bus, and shooting it repeatedly with your pistol, should result in your level improving pretty quick. It’ll still probably take 10-20 minutes to max out.


Playing through the story in Singleplayer will get your stat up fast enough. If you really need tips:

– Triathlons power level Stamina.

– Riding bikes power level’s stamina (my personal favourite method is to do cross country trips riding bikes, or go on store-robbing sprees using a bike as a getaway. That way you need to cycle quick to escape.)

TheDonMega also suggests, if you’re not averse to cheating, using the Fast Run cheat to run really quick. He says it takes about 20 mins to powerlevel it in that instance.

– The Fast Run cheat is: Y, Left, Right, Right LT, LB, X.

In GTA Online, I recommend the BMX tip above, playing Tennis with friends, or doing bike races. Survival co-op modes are surprisingly good at power levelling it, as you find yourself often sprinting around in terror to avoid the villainous hordes.


Do the flying school to about Tutorial 7 or so, and you should be maxed, or nearly maxed out, on your flying skill. Peasy.

For GTA Online? I don’t have a technique yet. I imagine there will be a good Flying Race you could do to power level it. I haven’t found much use for Flying in GTAO, as even at level 0 or 1, flying is easy to do.


Special stats improve by using the special ability.

– Do Trevor’s Rampage missions. Beat people up. Be crazy. (Be Trevor.)

– Race as Franklin, this’ll force you to use that driving special ability repeatedly.

The Tough Stats


UPDATE: Corey Matchitt has provided a great tip in the comments:

– He says that  if you use a car to get on top of a bus (while it’s still being driven)

– You can repeatedly press the right trigger (R2 on PS3 or Rt on X360) to stomp on it

– This counts as an attack, and the bus won’t be damaged. It won’t eventually explode (unlike a car).

– Using this method you can power-level Strength in 12 minutes. 

– But watch out for cops, as you’ll probably gain a star for damaging property. However, you won’t fall off because buses are long and heavy and standable. Unlike a car, you won’t fall off when they move. Just keep on stomping.

Update 2: – I have personally found it best to:

– go to the Western freeway and get on top of the large (though not juggernaut-sized) trucks that travel there in early morning/ later evening. They’re the haulage trucks which are slightly bigger than Armoured Vans.

– These trucks begin to flip out and drive really fast when you start stomping on them, so even if you get a star, the cops tend to have trouble keeping up (they’ll get out their cars to pursue you as if you’re on foot).

– On top of that, you can vault onto these trucks via the front cabin- you don’t need a car like to get on top of the bus.

– The user Ty suggests also beginning a private game with a friend, and doing above to any vehicle, or even better, your friend’s personal one. Cops won’t come to get you, and you can do it until you max out the stat.

Original post: One of the most frustrating stats. There are only two good ways I’ve seen to do this:

– Punch people. A lot. If you get in fights constantly– that is, every time you see a couple of dudes on the street while you happen to be walking by them, fight them- you will level up the stat quite quickly. However, it also gets very tiring quickly, and what’s worse is you’ll end up getting 1 star constantly as people nearby call your actions in. Apparently your stat goes up 1% for every twenty punches or something. Christ. But it’s the best way- just get in fights all the time. I’ve seen quite a bit increase in Trevor’s Strength stat after punching almost everyone I see for about five hours of Singleplayer gameplay.

– Play golf. Other sports seem to increase Strength, but the only one which made any noticeable mark on the stat’s bar seemed to be golf. Even then it was marginal.

– In GTA Online, I’m pretty sure getting a friend and grinding Strength at an Armwrestle, or playing a sport, or just punching folk will do the trick. I haven’t researched time improvements.


Update: the_bst_666 provides an incredible tip:

– get your character up a mountain, enter stealth mode, then walk down the mountain.

– Gravity will make your character walk down faster, almost at a run when it’s a steep part (watch you don’t fall.) Stealth levels up by “distance walked” not “time spent sneaking”, so this gets your Stealth level up to max in no time!

– The user Ty recommends using a rubber band to push your thumbstick forward while your character’s in a safe place, like the beach or a long stretch of country side. This definitely works.

Original post: Stealth improves the more you walk around in Sneak Mode, and the more guys (who can’t see you) you knock out by pressing B or Circle while behind them. A really great tip I saw for stealth is this:

– Go to a theatre

– Put on a movie

– Put on Sneak Mode, and creep around while the movie plays.

This way you’re entertained, AND you get to powerlevel Stealth! It’ll probably still take some hour or so to powerlevel it to 100%.

For GTA Online? I have no idea. Stealth doesn’t even seem particularly useful (although I have a suspicion you don’t shot up on people’s minimaps in Deathmatch when you sneak).


Update: The user Ty has a great tip for levelling up Driving in GTA Online:

– go to the airport, and host the race there (the figure of eight around the airport runways.)

– Choose Motorcycles for the race.

– You apparently zip around the track setting a track speed of around 46 seconds

– Ty says that after 25 laps he had maxed out his Driving stat, going from level 1.5 to max, level 5.

Original post: I found a really good hack for levelling this up.

This isn’t official, but the stat seems to improve the more near-misses you have. I haven’t heard any official line on this- it’s meant to only improve by driving itself and doing stunt jumps- but it’s the same mechanic by which Franklin’s special ability levels up. Get near misses and drive into oncoming traffic. Considering that Michael’s Special also levels up exactly the same as Shooting, I wouldn’t find this too surprising.

– I very easily power-levelled Trevor’s Driving skill by doing this. It took me perhaps ten or twenty minutes to get him from Level 2 to Level 4, and it wasn’t boring: 

– Wait until it’s after 8pm, that’s 2000 in-game.

Get a motorbike

– Go to the Olympus Freeway (the big, dual-carriaged road on Los Santos’ North-Eastern side, which runs straight North-East out of the city.)

– Ride into oncoming traffic while it is exremely busy at this time.

– Sit in between the two lanes, weaving between the heavy traffic on either side, and drive straight until you hit countryside, then turn and come back in (still on the wrong side of the road).

Trevor’s Driving stat is notoriously hard to increase- and nobody knows why. But using this method, I honestly increased it incredibly fast. I experienced the best traffic in-game around 2100, but there may be a better time (or several better times).

Unfortunately, I don’t know if this works for GTA Online. Driving, like all of the Online stats, seems to increase so slowly. I’m almost at Level 3 after TONS of driving. I reckon stealing cars and getting them to Mod Shops will be a good way of power-levelling driving, as it keeps you on the move. Or getting a bounty and going on the run.

Lung Capacity:

Update 2: I wasn’t sure about this, but readers Niek Galle and UglierThanMoe have both confirmed a great way to quickly increase Lung Capacity:

– Get scuba diving gear, and swim under water.

– Wait underwater. For every minute down there you’ll get 1% in the stat. So stay down there for a good hour and a half and you should get the stat up to 100%. (Good thing there’s quite a lot of cool stuff to explore underwater).

– Don’t stray too far from the coast or you’ll get eaten by sharks. I’ve heard mention that they roam around certain secret spots, too, but I haven’t had that confirmed.

If you aren’t sure how to get the scuba gear, here’s a quick guide:

– Purchase the Sonar Collections Docks for $250,000 on the North West coast of San Andreas.

– Board a Zodiac (the black spec-ops dinghy) or get in the yellow submarine.

– Ride out into the ocean (not too far again)

– Hold Y (or Triangle) to get out the vehicle, and your character will automatically have a scuba tank and mask on

– Go swimming!

– If you don’t have enough money for the Sonar Docks, you’ll have to either airlift the submarine from the Sandy Shores airfield (a huge effort), or find a Zodiac. You end with a Zodiac after two missions, I believe, the Merryweather scuba heist and the one with Trevor and Michael escaping via the Alamo Sea West river rapids. Apparently one also spawns outside the Marina Safehouses/ Garages, though I haven’t seen this myself. Seems very rare.

Update 1: Reader TheDonMega suggests using a couple of cheats for your singleplayer characters, to power level their stats. If you’re okay with cheats- here’s the quick way. For Lung Capacity, I think cheats are totally justified. What a rubbish stat.

– TheDonMega says to turn on the Infinite Health cheat, which lasts for five minutes.

– Just sit underwater for the five minutes. You even get the counter in the bottom right. It’ll still take a while- your skill goes up 1% for every minute underwater.

– The Invincibility cheat is Right, A, Right, Left, Right, RB, Right, Left, A, Y.

Original: Lung capacity is the absolute worst. I wish it was just incorporated into Stamina (which could have been made twice as hard to improve anyway).

Basically, to improve lung capacity, all you can do is swim. Underwater. Which you can only do for about ten or fifteen seconds, at a stretch, to begin with. Even with Lung Capcity fully upgraded, you still only get perhaps a minute of underwater breathing. Which isn’t very realistic (some people IRL can be underwater for several minutes), and also makes the game less fun. Bummer. They misjudged this one, I think.

– Seeing as the only way to improve lung capacity is to swim underwater, I timed how long it takes you to gain a level. For me to get from Level 3 to Level 4, it took me about twelve, maybe fifteen minutes.

– To get from Level 4 to Level 5, it took me about ten minutes also, give or take a minute. It seemed shorter. But that may have been because I accidentally swam into the Navy’s base and got four stars (all of these skills are easier to power-level when you’re running away from cops. An incentive!).

– So, to get Swimming all the way up, I’d say it’ll probably take near enough an hour.  For each of your characters, you’re probably looking at an hour and a half, straight, dull (and kinda dangerous) underwater swimming. At least forty minutes, from the general starting value of Level 1. 

– The way I levelled up, was simply swimming from the East coast of San Andreas, all the way down to the city. I would swim underwater until my “air bar” was flashing, then I surfaced for a stroke or two, and immediately dove back underneath. Doing that constantly, it took about twenty five minutes, and got me most of the way to Los Santos. Then I simply swam about until I reached max level.

The only way to improve Lung Capacity is to put the time in. If you intersperse it for each of your characters your looking at a pretty big chunk of game timeYoga also increases Lung Capacity- but not by much.

For GTA Online, again, I don’t know how much longer this will take. You might be looking at 4x more time grinding underwater.


So I hope these tips have been useful! I’m very grateful that Rockstar revived the Skill Stat system from San Andreas in GTAV, and it’s definitely improved here. If it weren’t for total asshole skills like Stealth and Lung Capacity. Still, it’s a good system. And I hope my cheat sheet has helped in any way!

If you know better than me on any of these, or have any of your own tips, let us know in the comments!

There are 14 comments

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  1. Corey Matchitt

    Hey i got a tip to increase strength, if you get a car to help you hop on top of a bus all you have to do is hit R2 constantly and it’ll boost your strength much fast took 12 mins online to fill from level 1 – Max, NOTE: When on the bus you will get one star for public damage but since the bus will be moving you will most likely lose them, in the odd chance the bus crashes and you fall off just hop back on and continue 🙂

    • Alex S.

      That’s definitely an issue. I’ve found kind of a fix for it though! I’ll update the article with this.

      Go to the freeway on the island’s West coast around earlier morning or later evening, you’ll find a lot of big trucks. Not lorries/ juggernauts, but big trucks, slightly larger than a armoured van. If you climb on these and start stomping (you can even vault on frontways), they start accelerating away like mad. Even if you get one star the cops tend to lose you while you stand up there, stomping away, and it’s easier to do this for ages. I also can never find buses in GTA Online, but these vans are in abundance.

  2. Ty

    For online strength if you go into a closed friend session and have one of your friends sit in a car you can hit it over and over to level. You won’t get any stars and it took me about 15 minutes to go from one bar to max

    For stealth you can simply go into stealth walk and rubber band your thumb stick to make you walk in circles. Takes a little while but as long as you are somewhere safe you can leave an let it do it by itself.

    For driving the fastest way I found was to go to the airport and do the race there. Choose motorcycles and you will have around 46 second laps. 25 laps took me from 1.5 bars to max.

    Hope tees tips help!

  3. the_bst_666

    I found a quick way to level stealth is climbing the top of a mountain and going stealth to the bottom. You run down the mountain side in stealth takes no time at all and it’ll be maxed out.
    That’s my little secret for it

    • Alex S.

      This is a fantastic tip. I’ll have to check it works, but it sounds like it will- IIRC Stealth works by distance walked not time walked. I’ll add it, cite you, and say it needs to be confirmed.

  4. Niek Galle

    For lung capacity i used the scuba diving gear, it increases your lung capacity skill.
    I putted my character underneath a rock or coral so he couldn’t float back to the surface. Went to watch some tv and it maxed out.

    • Alex S.

      That’s weird mate, using Scuba Gear definitely didn’t work for me. My Lung Capacity never went up while I was underwater with it. Was this in GTAO or GTAV? I tried it in GTA V extensively, didn’t work.

    • TheDonMEGA

      for lung capacity just put in the invincibility cheat and go underwater for the entire 5 minutes.. ur lung capacity goes up 1% for every minute ur underwater.. using this cheat allows u to stay under the whole time, your air meter goes empty but u dont die or get health taken from you for 5 minutes. i have done this with each character and with each one it only took about 20 minutes each. u can also put the cheat in and fast run cheat in and level up your stamina aswell, just keep putting it in when the 5 mins is up and continue to level up. fairly fast and easy if u dont mind using some cheats its great way to do it

  5. UglierThanMoe

    An extremely easy way to increase lung capacity is to get ahold of scuba gear. Lung capacity increases by 1% for every minute spent underwater, and it doesn’t matter at all whether you’re wearing the scuba gear or not.

    The legit way to get scuba gear is to purchase the Sonar Collections Dock for $ 250,000, which makes a Submersible (the small, yellow submarine) spawn next to the dock. Get into the submarine with any character you wish, get out again, and you’ll be wearing scuba gear. Now just jump into the water and dive, but don’t stray too far from the coast or you risk getting attacked by sharks.

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