In this work, we focus on the family of shell formulations referred to as "solid shells", where the simulation of shell-type structures is performed by means of a mesh of 3D solid elements, with typically only one element through the thickness. We propose a novel approach for alleviating the various locking phenomena, which typically appear in thin structures, based on the projection of strains onto discontinuous coarser polynomial spaces defined at element level. In particular, we present and investigate two different formulations based on this approach. Several numerical experiments prove the very good performance of both formulations. The main advantages of the presented approach compared to existing solid shell formulations are its simplicity and numerical efficiency.